Qld funds university-industry program for the regions

Brandon How

A new $7 million program aimed at increasing research collaboration between regional universities and industry in Queensland will be delivered by CSIRO.

Funded by the state government, the program will provide grants of up to $50,000 to university-industry research collaborations, to be matched by the participating SME, and increase opportunities for regional universities to engage with industry.

The program’s objective is to increase research commercialisation out of Queensland’s regional universities over the next three years. It is set to launch in Spring 2024.

Queensland’s chief scientist Professor Kerrie Wilson and Queensland’s Science and Innovation minister Leanne Linard in the state parliament building. Image: LinkedIn

CSIRO’s SME Connect team will administer the program on behalf of the Department of Environment, Science and Innovation.

The four partner universities are James Cook University, Central Queensland University, the University of Southern Queensland, and the University of the Sunshine Coast.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Queensland government said regional universities tend to have less access to investors and industry networks compared to non-regional universities, leading to “lower rates of commercialisation and engagement between industry and the research sector”.

Queensland’s Science and Innovation minister Leanne Linard said the state government has “listened to the sector and recognised the importance of targeted support across regional Queensland”.

To qualify for the program, SMEs must have less than $20 million in annual turnover, be at least one year old, be registered as operating in Queensland, and be able to match the $50,000 grant funding in cash.

The SME Connect team will provide project facilitation services and the matched funding for SME research projects delivered by a partner university.

Masterclasses for researchers and SMEs will also be held to “improve collaboration and create new commercial opportunities”, according to CSIRO, in addition to regional networking events.

The program also includes four Queensland-specific rounds of Innovate to Grow cohorts, a free online program that helps SMEs progress research and development opportunities.

It is a 10-week online program that provides access to researcher connections, a self-paced learning platform, guest speakers and expert feedback.

The latest announcement follows a $20 million allocation from CSIRO to the SME Connect Team in early April.

In addition to the Innovate to Grow program, the SME Connect Team delivers the Kick-Start program. This similarly provides matched funding of up to $50,000 and facilitation services to help formulate SME research questions.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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