Govt-funded support for NSW deep techs to cross valley of death

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

Deep tech startups will next week have access to free commercialisation training and a chance at a six-month incubator residency under a New South Wales government-funded program designed and run by Cicada Innovations.

Targeted at companies with cutting edge but not market tested technology, the three-stage program is designed to get more startups across the valley of death and employing people in the state.

“This should help give them that business capability and the support network to do that. We’ve done it before,” Cicada Innovations chief Sally-Ann Williams said.

Cicada Innovations

The new Deep Tech Commercialisation Training Program (DTCTP) is modelled on the longer running NSW Health Commercialisation Training Program, which is also delivered by Cicada Innovations and tested an expansion last year.

The New South Wales government is investing $318,000 to fund the new standalone program for deep techs to complement its $5 million competitive Physical Sciences Fund and Small Business Innovation and Research Program.

These programs have revealed encouraging science and technology but varying levels of commercialisation.

“Most of them are very early stage in their research and development and they’re exactly the sorts of people that we exist to support and help them discover how to bring it to market,” Ms Williams said.

The DTCTP will offer a free online course to take participants through the key elements of building a successful deep tech business. In the second component selected companies will gain access to a two-day intensive acceleration component, before the most promising are awarded a six-month residency at Cicada Innovations.

The residency comes without an equity stake for Cicada Innovations, which already counts several quantum, artificial intelligence and agritechs as residents and has been operating for two decades.

“It’s purely about building capacity in New South Wales and trying to really uplift the business capability of our deep tech sector in the state,” Ms Williams said.

Minister for Science, Innovation and Technology Alister Henskens will announce the program on Friday as a way of helping companies cross the so-called commercialisation ‘valley of death’.

“By helping companies gain a clearer commercialisation perspective and a stronger appreciation of factors such as market analysis, supply chain issues and customer engagement, this program will help them secure later stage capital and remain in NSW while they grow and scale,” he said.

Agritech startup and Cicada Innovations resident Lleaf is evidence of the potential benefits of getting a local deep tech into the global market.

Based on the research into light spectrum shifting dyes by the University of NSW’s Dr Alex Falber, the company commercialises light emitting plastics to improve crop yields by up to 20 per cent. It raised $3.5 million in funding this year.

Lleaf chief operating officer Chris Wilkins says the doors opened by the incubator were critical to its commercialisation and eventual expansion into Europe and the Middle East.

“I don’t think there is a better place in Australia for a startup to go,” he told

“The backing and connections to the universities is incredibly valuable. the quality of the network Cicada provides is second to none. Founders gets excellent guidance in who to talk to when they have certain needs. For me, that’s a business home.”

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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