Up to $50,000 is available under the Innovation Connections initiative to help SMEs connect with researchers and foster innovation.

Innovation Connections

Innovation Connections

The Innovation Connections initiative will expand and refocus the existing Research Connections programme to drive new industry-led collaborations between researchers and small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The partnerships will foster the development of new ideas with commercial potential and will identify the knowledge gaps preventing business growth.

Innovation Connections supported by the Australian Government through its Entrepreneurs’ Programme.



Australia’s collaboration on innovation between industry and the research/higher education sector is the lowest in the OECD. Australia is missing out on world first innovation, local jobs growth and global competitiveness opportunities that are stimulated by greater collaboration and workforce mobility between the industry and research sectors.

The Australian Government is working to relaunch Research Connections as Innovation Connections with an expanded reach through the addition of 8 new Innovation Facilitators located across metro and regional Australia.  Furthermore, there will be an addition of 2 new grant components to further support collaborative research between business and the research sector, namely the placement of Industry Graduates and Business Researchers.



The Innovation Connections programme will:

  • provide more Facilitators so more businesses can access Australia’s innovation infrastructure, particularly in regional areas
  • make matched grants available to support graduate and postgraduate researchers placements in businesses
  • make matched grants available to support business researchers to be placed in publicly funded research organisations
  • identify opportunities to access research and development and testing facilities and develop specialised training options by working more closely with the vocational education and training sector.



Eligible SMEs must meet the following criteria:

  • have an annual turnover or operating expenditure between $1.5m and $100m (or a minimum turnover of $750,000 in remote regions)
  • have an Australian Company Number (ACN) or an Australian Business Number (ABN)
  • have traded for at least three years and are financially solvent; and
  • operate in one of the five growth sectors covered by the Australian Government’s Industry Growth Centres Initiative:
    • Advanced manufacturing
    • Food and agribusiness
    • Medical technologies and pharmaceuticals
    • Mining equipment, technology and services
    • Oil, gas, and energy resources, OR
  • provide enabling technologies and services (e.g. ICT) to one of the growth sectors listed above.


Innovation Facilitators

Eight additional facilitators have joined a national network of Innovation Facilitators to help Australian businesses access knowledge, engage with researchers and foster innovation to grow their businesses.

The Innovation Connections initiative, which is part of the Entrepreneurs’ Programme, has been expanded through the National Innovation and Science Agenda.

The eight additional Innovation Connections facilitators are: Mario Martini (Townsville), Mitch McGuire (Gold Coast), Mary Frey (Sydney), Jacqui Watt (Canberra), Greg Ward (Melbourne), David Monck (Adelaide), Brendon McAtee (Perth), Paul Mason (Melbourne).

View the full list of facilitators.



The Entrepreneurs’ Programme is currently running and will expand from 1 January 2016 to progressively offer these expanded services.



  • The University of Queensland – $55,000.00
  • Clarity Pharmaceuticals – $55,000.00
  • CSIRO – $55,000.00
  • UnityHealth – $48,400.00
  • UAV Vision – $33,000.00
  • Charles Darwin University – $23,272.70
  • Q Sera – $55,000.00
  • HatchTech – $32,968.65
  • Queensland University of Technology – $55,000.00
  • The University of Newcastle – $54,905.95