NSW launches R&D fund and new tech vouchers

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

The New South Wales government has launched a new $6 million research and development fund to help scale innovative products and is also offering new “TechVouchers” of up to $50,000 to businesses working with research organisations in a bid to spur R&D in the pandemic recovery.

Applicants to both programs will need to show their work directly addresses the impact of COVID-19.

The $6 million R&D Fund will open later this month through a single round competitive grant scheme. It targets innovative products that have been developed by New South Wales businesses, offering grants between $250,000 and $1 million to scale the products to a global market.

TechVouchers have previously been offered to NSW-based SMEs with a value up to $15,000. But a new “COVID-19 edition” will jump to $25,000 for smaller projects up to six months and $50,000 for larger 12-month projects.

The new vouchers are available to technology-rich startups, scaleups or small and medium enterprises working with research organisations to “accelerate the commercialisation of innovative R&D products and services that address the many disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic”.

The vouchers can be used to subsidise access to publicly funded research organisations including 11 New South Wales universities, CSIRO, National Measurement Institute, ANSTO, Defence Science and Technology Group, and the NSW Institute of Sport.

Applications for both programs will be assessed by expert panels. But final determinations will be made by Investment NSW, the new agency within the Department of Premier and Cabinet cluster.

The New South Wales Government has launched a $6 million R&D Fund

Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres announced the two programs on Wednesday, saying they would help stimulate R&D and drive a “resilient, post pandemic economy”.

“This investment in R&D encourages collaborative projects to design or validate products, complete product testing and certification, enhance existing product capabilities, or facilitate entry into international markets,” Mr Ayres said.

“The new $6 million R&D Fund will help grow our standout businesses to attract local investment and take their innovation to the world as we look forward to a global economic upsurge.”

Grants from the R&D Fund are available to New South Wales-based SMEs with at least 50 per cent Australian ownership. The product must directly address “the impact of COVID-19″ and have the capacity to hit the market within two years, with businesses also needing to hold IP rights.

Mr Ayres said the COVID-19 edition of the TechVouchers program would reduce the cost of access to research facilities and equipment.

“Successful TechVoucher projects will not only enable greater engagement between businesses and researchers but will give both parties more opportunity to access additional grant programs to reduce commercial risk for businesses and underpin funds raised by businesses,” he said.

Several universities encouraged the use of the vouchers, which have already been used to fund research in areas like quantum technologies.

Archer Materials used a TechVoucher to progress early-stage development of its 12CQ quantum processor chip technology at the University of Sydney’s Research and Prototype Foundry facility.

“TechVoucher support enabled us to reach key milestones in the development of the chip, which is the only proposed qubit architecture in the world with the proven potential to operate at room temperature and integrate to modern devices,” Archer Materials Quantum technology manager Dr Martin Fuechsle said.

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