Search begins for $392m Industry Growth Program chief

James Riley
Editorial Director

The Department of Industry, Science and Resources has started the hunt for an executive to run the $392 million Industry Growth Program that was unveiled in the federal Budget earlier this month.

Global search outfit Korn Ferry has been engaged to find a well-connected commercialisation leader to join the department’s senior leadership team as executive director. The position was advertised on Tuesday.

The executive is a non-ongoing position for up to four years – a two-year contract with a two-year potential extension – with both an explicit role within the Industry Growth Program and a supporting role in building business commercialisation and SME growth across the department and the broader public service.

The $392.4 million Industry Growth Program initiative was the surprise industry development program of the 2023 Budget. The initiative aims to help SMEs and startups get their ideas off the ground and is aligned with the priority areas of the National Reconstruction Fund.

Parliament house Canberra

The department wants candidates with deep and demonstrated commercialisation expertise, as well as experience in startup investment, and would have an understanding of the Australian and global innovation landscape.

The executive director would be expected to represent the government as a senior spokesperson and be the public face of commercialisation and SME growth.

The successful candidate would be expected to engage the team of expert advisers that would deliver services, as well as industry partner organisations.

Through matched grant funding and mentorship and advice programs, the Industry Growth Program is supposed to build a pipeline of investment ready companies and projects that could be considered by the National Reconstruction Fund.

The government says the ambition is to create a kind of “end-to-end” shepherding of high potential companies through an industry support system that maximises returns to the taxpayer. The matched grant funding of the Industry Growth Program would lead companies toward the NRF.

The $15 billion NRF is expected to be operational in some capacity by the end of the year.

The government says it wants a pathway for local entrepreneurs and researchers to commercialise their ideas in Australia rather than being forced to look for support offshore.

The Industry Growth Program covers much of the same growth as the previous government’s Industry Growth Centre Inititative. The funded centres are expected to become self-sustaining by the middle of next year when the program concludes, although they may yet play a role in the Industry Growth Program.

The program also replaces elements of the maligned Entrepreneurs Programme, which was the subject of a damning audit last year.

Applications for the role close on 20 June 2023.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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