Up to $200M is available from the CSIRO Innovation Fund to support the early stage commercialisation of innovations.
CSIRO Innovation Fund
The CSIRO Innovation Fund is a joint government–private sector fund that will help Australia’s home-grown innovations become successful businesses. This will create jobs and boost Australia’s productivity and exports.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is our national science agency and for more than 100 years it has advanced Australia with a range of inventions, innovations and knowledge breakthroughs that have changed and improved the lives of people here and around the world. As our economy transitions from a mining investment boom we need to ensure our strengths in science are bolstered and ready for the future. Given its integral role in Australia’s research and science sectors, CSIRO is uniquely placed to lead this transition and deliver innovation across a broad range of national challenges and opportunities.
The new CSIRO Innovation Fund will support the commercialisation of early stage innovations from CSIRO, Australian universities and other Australian publicly funded research bodies.
The CSIRO Innovation Fund was launched in December 2016. It will invest in start-up and spin-off companies, existing SMEs engaged in translation of research, and company formation opportunities. This investment is designed to:
- Improve the translation of publicly funded research into commercial outcomes and stimulate innovation in Australia.
- Help successful businesses to grow – amplifying Australia’s productivity and exports, and generating jobs, particularly in priority sectors of the Australian economy.
- Boost the Australian innovation ecosystem as those individuals and companies supported by the Fund go on to further stimulate productivity and a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.
The CSIRO Innovation Fund comprises a commitment of $70 million in government funding and $30 million revenue from CSIRO’s WLAN programme and, commencing in 2017, will be seeking additional private sector investment to take the capital up to a target total value of $200 million.
How will the CSIRO Innovation Fund be managed?
The CSIRO Innovation Fund will be managed as an early stage technology venture fund and as a separate legal entity to CSIRO. The Fund will, however, be managed by a subsidiary company of CSIRO which is ultimately accountable to the CSIRO Board and will also be subject to the regulatory processes that oversight venture funds, for example Innovation and Science Australia . The Fund will have its own governance and decision-making structure, including an investment committee that will include independent members.
What private sector investment will contribute to the CSIRO Innovation Fund?
The CSIRO Innovation Fund’s capital raising from the private sector will commence in 2017. Investment in the Fund will only be open to ‘wholesale investors’ (that is, professional investors and companies that manage investments in opportunities), not to retail or ‘mum and dad’ investors.
It is important to note that CSIRO and the Fund do not presently hold an Australian Financial Services Licence and have a limited authorisation under the licence of a third party to provide certain general financial product advice to wholesale clients in connection with the CSIRO Innovation Fund.
The CSIRO Innovation Fund will invest in start-up and spin off companies, and SMEs engaged in the translation of research generated in the Australian publicly funded research sector. The Fund will have a unique value proposition to investors and potential investment opportunities. It is expected to:
- be open to investment proposals from CSIRO, universities, other publicly funded research agencies and their partners including SMEs
- focus on proposals that bring forward the commercialisation of ‘deep technology’ across government-aligned national industry priorities as currently articulated through the Industry Growth Centres
- invest for both commercial return and national benefit
- focus its investment toward companies establishing themselves and with most assets in Australia during their formative years.
The intent is that funding will be provided without co-investment where necessary to kick start very early stage proposals and to address the initial ‘Death Valley Curve’ in pre-seed and seed funding, but co-investment will be encouraged.
Who will make up the CSIRO Innovation Fund team?
Following a rigorous recruitment process, Mr Bill Bartee has been appointed leader of the CSIRO Innovation Fund Investment Managers team. A recruitment process for investment managers for the Innovation Fund is also underway, to form the Investment Managers team.
In the first 3 – 4 months of 2017. The leader of the CSIRO Innovation Fund investment team commences in February and other members of the Investment Managers team are currently being recruited. It is anticipated that the Fund will be in a position to receive proposals for investment by the Fund in the period a couple of months after February 2017. The Fund website will be updated with further details about the applications procedure during February/March, 2017.