Critical Technology Fund

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What is the Critical Technology Fund?

The Critical Technology Fund provides funding to develop critical and emerging technologies to provide the country with a clear competitive advantage, accelerate productivity growth, and create well-paying jobs and secure supply chains.

 

Objectives

The objectives of the Critical Technology Fund are to:

  • give Australia a clear competitive advantage
  • accelerate productivity growth
  • create well-paying jobs.

 

Background

The Australian Government is committed to backing the Critical Technology Fund to provide the country with a clear competitive advantage, accelerate productivity growth, and create well-paying jobs and secure supply chains.

The Government has announced an investment of $1 billion in the form of a Critical Technology Fund as part of the broader National Reconstruction Fund. 

This Critical Technology Fund is an investment in building strategic capability in Australia, powering economic growth and creating jobs. 
 
The Critical Technology Fund will support home-grown innovation and value creation in areas like AI, robotics and quantum. The government has also committed to a goal of 1.2 million tech-related jobs by 2030. The Government is also committed to fostering resilient global supply chains for critical technologies as they are essential to the prosperity, security and well-being of our nation. Critical technology development and ongoing research and development can help our nation address future challenges across all sectors and for all citizens. To reach our critical technology potential, our whole nation needs to identify and understand what our critical technologies are, where our strengths lie and any gaps. 
 

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Call 1300 658 508

Critical Technolgy Fund

What are critical technologies?

The Critical technologies are current and emerging technologies with the capacity to significantly enhance or pose risk to our national interest.

Australia’s ability to harness the opportunities created by critical technologies has significant impacts on our economic prosperity, national security, and social cohesion. Technological advances drive increased productivity, growth, and improved living standards; but also have the potential to harm our economic and national security interests and undermine our democratic values and principles.

The List of Critical Technologies in the National Interest provides that focus and forms the basis for further discussions around investment and collaboration across all sectors of the economy.

The List underpins all our efforts to:

  • Promote Australia as a secure nation of excellence for investment, research, innovation, collaboration and adoption of critical technologies – globally and in our region
  • Ensure secure critical technologies supply chains
  • Reach our goal of 1.2 million tech jobs by 2030
  • Maintain the integrity of our research, science, ideas, information and capabilities – enable Australian industries to thrive, and maximise the value for our nation from critical technologies. 

 

Critical Technologies

Advanced materials and manufacturing

Manufacturing physical objects by depositing materials layer by layer according to a digital blueprint or 3D model. Additive manufacturing systems use a variety of techniques to print objects in various sizes (from nanoscale to room-sized) and materials (including plastics, ceramics and metals). Applications for additive manufacturing include rapid prototyping and making custom or small quantity components.

New materials created by combining two or more materials with different properties, without dissolving or blending them into each other. Advanced composite materials have strength, stiffness, or toughness greater than the base materials alone. Examples include carbon-fibre-reinforced plastics and laminated materials. Applications include vehicle protection, signature reducing materials, construction materials and renewable energy wind turbine components.

Materials with large amounts of stored or potential energy that can produce an explosion. Applications for advanced explosives and energetic materials include mining, civil engineering, manufacturing and defence.

Advanced magnets are strong permanent magnets that require no or few critical minerals. Applications for advanced magnets include scientific research, smartphones, data storage, health care, power generation and electric motors.

Superconductors are materials that have no electrical resistance, ideally at room temperature and pressure. Applications for superconductors include creating strong magnetic fields for medical imaging, transferring electricity without loss, and hardware for quantum computers.

Clothing and equipment to protect defence, law enforcement and public safety personnel and defence platforms from physical injury and/or chemical or biological hazards. Examples include helmets, fire-retardant fabrics, respirators, and body armour.

Systems that produce fine chemicals and pharmaceuticals using continuous-flow processes, rather than batches. Compared to batch chemistry, flow chemistry can make fine chemicals and pharmaceuticals faster, more consistently and with less waste products.

Substances applied to the surface of an object to add a useful property. Examples include anti-biofouling coatings that prevent plants or animals growing on ships or buildings, superhydrophobic coatings that repel water from solar panels or reduce drag on the hulls of ships, electromagnetic absorbing coatings that make airplanes and ships less visible to radar systems, thermal coatings that reduce heat loss and increase energy efficiency, and anti-corrosion coatings that prevent rust.

Systems and processes to extract and process critical minerals safely, efficiently and sustainably. Australia has an abundance of critical minerals and has the opportunity to be a global leader in the ethical and environmentally responsible supply of key critical minerals.

Systems and devices that can cut and shape raw materials into complex and highly precise components. Examples include computer numerical control (CNC) mills, CNC lathes, electron discharge machining, precision laser cutting and welding, and water jet cutting. Applications for highspecification machining processes include making aerospace parts, and components for other manufacturing devices.

Materials with essential features measuring less than 100 nanometres and technologies for their manufacture. Applications for nanoscale materials include, paint, pharmaceuticals, wastewater treatment, data storage, communications, semiconductors, and nanoscale tracking markers for critical materials.

New synthetic materials that have properties that do not occur naturally, such as the ability to bend light or radio waves backwards. Applications for novel metamaterials include energy capture and storage, radio antennae, and adaptive camouflage.

Smart materials are materials that have properties that change in response to external action. Examples include shape-memory alloys that change shape when heated and self-healing materials that automatically repair themselves when damaged. Applications for smart materials include clothing, body armour, building materials and consumer electronics.

AI, computing and communications

Systems, processes and techniques for analysing large volumes of data (i.e. ‘big data’) and providing useful and timely insights, usually with limited human intervention. Applications for advanced data analytics include medical diagnosis and treatment, acoustic analytics, regulatory compliance, insurance, climate monitoring, infrastructure forecasting and planning, and national security.

Systems and processes to design and fabricate sophisticated integrated circuits using process nodes below 10 nanometres. Examples include systems-on-chip (SoC), field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), stacked memory on chip and specialised microprocessors for defence industry

Devices and systems that use light to transfer information over optical fibre or free space (i.e. air or the vacuum of space) and use laser technologies, adaptive optics and optical routing to transfer information faster, more reliably, more efficiently and/or using less energy. Applications for advanced optical communications include high-speed earth-satellite communications, short-range visible light communications (i.e. ‘Li-Fi’), narrow-beam laser communications and multi-gigabit broadband and corporate networks.

Devices and systems that use radio waves to transfer information over free space (i.e. air or the vacuum of space) and use novel modulation techniques, advanced antenna designs and beamforming technologies to transfer information faster, more reliably, more efficiently and/or using less energy. Applications include communications satellites, cellular networks (e.g. 5G and 6G), wireless local area networks (e.g. Wi-Fi), short-range wireless communication (e.g. Bluetooth), sensor networks, connected vehicles, implantable medical devices and mobile voice and data services for public safety and defence.

Artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms are computer algorithms that perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence. Applications for artificial intelligence algorithms include personal and workplace virtual assistants, process automation, virtual and augmented reality, creating more realistic video game environments and characters, public transport planning and optimisation, crop and livestock management, and defence.

Artificial intelligence hardware accelerators are computer hardware optimised and purpose built to run artificial intelligence algorithms faster, more precisely or using less energy than is possible using non-optimised general-purpose computer hardware. Applications for artificial intelligence hardware accelerators include processing on board smartphones, portable virtual and augmented reality systems, and low power internet of things (IoT) sensors.

A distributed ledger is a database that is consensually shared and synchronized across multiple sites, institutions, or geographies, accessible by multiple people. Blockchains are one type of distributed ledger that stores information in blocks that are chained together using mathematical principles that are very hard to forge or corrupt. Because anyone can mathematically verify and audit transactions recorded in a blockchain, multiple participants can contribute to, or rely on, a shared blockchain to store information—such as timestamped cryptocurrency transactions—without needing to trust either each other or a mutual third party (like a bank or stock exchange). Applications for distributed ledgers include cryptocurrencies, verification of supply chains such as for product provenance and emissions monitoring and verification, tracking recoverable and recyclable product content, land records, and share trading.

Computer systems that exceed the performance capabilities of consumer devices (i.e. widely available desktop and laptop computers) by an order of magnitude. High performance computers— such as supercomputers—can process large volumes of data and/or perform complex calculations that are impossible or impractical using consumer devices. Applications include climate modelling, computational chemistry and high quality computer graphics for film and television.

Computer algorithms that automatically learn or improve using data and/or experience. Machine learning is a type of artificial intelligence. Applications for machine learning include computer vision, facial recognition, cybersecurity, media creation, virtual and augmented reality systems, media manipulation (e.g. deepfakes), content recommendation systems, and search engines.

Systems that enable computers to recognise, understand and use written and/or spoken language in the same ways that people use language to communicate with each other. Natural language processing is a type of artificial intelligence. Applications for natural language processing include predictive text, language translation, virtual assistants and chat bots, summarising long documents, sentiment analysis, and making technologies more accessible and inclusive.

Systems, algorithms and hardware that are designed to enable a cyber security benefit. Applications for cyber security technologies include but are not limited to; operational technology security, trust and authentication infrastructures, protection of aggregated data sets, protection of AI systems and supply chain security.

Biotechnology, gene technologies and vaccines

Processes that use living cells to make useful chemicals or materials. Examples include fermentation products, biologic medicines such as antibodies and enzyme replacement therapies, and enzymes for environmental remediation and recycling plastics.

Natural or synthetic materials that can safely interact with biological systems (e.g. the human body) to support medical treatment or diagnosis. Applications for biomaterials include medical implants, such as artificial joints and heart valves, scaffolds to promote bone and tissue regrowth, biosensors and targeted drug delivery systems.

Tools and techniques for directly modifying one or more of an organism’s genes. Existing techniques include CRISPR gene editing and molecular cloning. Applications for genetic engineering include making crops that are more nutritious or require less water or pesticides, treating genetic diseases by replacing faulty genes with working copies and cell therapies that treat diseases by extracting, modifying and reimplanting patients’ own cells.

Tools and techniques for quickly sequencing (i.e. ‘reading’) the genetic material of human beings, other living organisms and viruses, and for analysing and understanding the functions of those sequences. Applications for genomics and genetic sequencing and analysis include identifying the genes associated with particular diseases or biological functions, identifying new communicable diseases, crop and livestock breeding and predicting how effective drugs will be for different patients.

Devices, tools and techniques that use the special properties of nanostructures to monitor or modify living organisms. Applications for nanobiotechnology include more targeted pesticides, biosensors that can detect and count flu viruses, and bioactive nanocapsules that can deliver drugs to where they are needed and nowhere else, reducing side effects and enabling doctors to use more powerful drugs.

Nanoscale machines made from components like DNA. Applications for nanoscale robotics include targeted drug delivery, identifying cancer cells and moving molecules to assemble drugs or other nanoscale robots.

Systems and devices that directly monitor, or interact with, the brain or nervous system. Applications for neural engineering include biofeedback monitoring, sensory prosthetics and devices to supplement or replace damaged nerves.

Systems for identifying or designing new types of antibiotic and antiviral drugs that can treat bacterial and viral infections in humans and animals safely and effectively. New antibiotic and antiviral drugs must be continually developed and tested to ensure there are drugs available to treat both new infectious diseases and existing bacterial and viral diseases that become resistant to existing drugs.

Nuclear medicine uses radioactive substances to diagnose or treat diseases. Applications for nuclear medicine include imaging internal organs and tissues, viewing biological processes and using radiopharmaceuticals to treat cancers and other diseases.

Radiotherapy uses ionizing radiation to treat diseases by damaging the DNA in targeted cells, killing those cells. Applications for radiotherapy include treating some types of cancer and treating other diseases caused by overactive cells.

Designing and constructing biological systems and devices that have useful functions not found in nature. Applications for synthetic biology include creating microorganisms that can clean-up environmental pollutants and recycle plastics, manufacturing animal-free meat and dairy products, and biological computers.

Tools and techniques to quickly develop and manufacture vaccines, drugs, biologic products and devices used to diagnose and treat emerging infectious diseases and medical conditions caused by exposure to harmful chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear substances. Applications for vaccines and medical countermeasures include public health emergencies, industrial accidents and defence.

Energy and Environment

Solid, liquid or gas fuels produced from biological or organic sources. Examples include biogas and biodiesel derived from plant biomass, and bioethanol from crops such as corn and sugar cane.

Systems and devices that transfer energy between two points in free space. Applications for directed energy technologies include powering consumer electronics, recharging electric vehicles, powering aerial drones, ground-space energy transfer, wireless sensor networks and internet of things devices, and advanced weapons.

Devices that produce electricity from stored electrochemical energy and tolerate multiple charge and discharge cycles. Electric batteries utilise various materials and chemistries (e.g. lithium-ion (Li-ion), nickel metal hydride battery (Ni-MH)) and form factors (e.g. flow batteries for stationary grid storage, polymer electrolytes for vehicles and personal devices). Applications for electric batteries include electrified road and air transport, smartphones and personal electronic devices, medical devices and grid energy storage.

Sustainable production, storage, distribution and use of hydrogen (H2) and ammonia (NH3) for heat and electricity generation. Hydrogen and ammonia are potential low or zero emission, zero-carbon alternatives to fossil fuels and electric batteries. Applications for hydrogen and ammonia include energy storage and as a fuel source for aviation and marine transport, long distance road transport and heating.

Electricity generation using the energy released when the core of an atom (called the atomic nucleus) splits into two or more lighter atomic nuclei. Applications include energy production for selfcontained and/or remote uses, such as space travel, submarines, scientific research and medical isotope production.

Processes to safely dispose of, or reuse or reprocess for useful purposes, radioactive waste products from medical, industrial and research practices. Examples include converting radioactive liquid waste into synthetic rock to minimise leeching and reprocessing spent radioactive fuel for use in long-life, low-power batteries. Applications include environmental protection and extending the useful life of nuclear material.

Devices that convert solar energy into electricity using layers of semiconductor materials. Applications for photovoltaics include low-emissions power stations, rooftop solar power, spacecraft and personal electronics.

Electrochemical devices that can store large amounts of energy in small volumes. Supercapacitors store less energy and for shorter durations than rechargeable batteries (hours or days, rather than months or years), but can accept and deliver charge much faster than rechargeable batteries, and tolerate many more charge and discharge cycles than rechargeable batteries before performance degrades. Applications for supercapacitors include regenerative braking, smartphones and personal electronic devices, grid energy storage and defence.

Quantum

Mathematical techniques for ensuring that information stays private, or is authentic, that resist attacks by both quantum and non-quantum (i.e. classical) computers. The leading application for post-quantum cryptography is securing online communications against attacks using quantum computers. Because quantum computers can efficiently solve the ‘hard’ mathematical problems we currently rely on to protect online communications, Australia needs post-quantum cryptography to ensure communications stay secure once quantum computers are available.

Devices and systems that communicate quantum information at a distance, including cryptographic keys. Applications for quantum communications include transferring information between quantum computers and sharing cryptographic keys (which are like secret passwords) between distant people in a way that means it is impossible for anyone else to copy.

Computer systems and algorithms that depend directly on quantum mechanical properties and effects to perform computations. Quantum computers can solve particular types of problems much faster than existing ‘classical’ computers, including problems that are not practical to solve using even the most powerful classical computers imaginable. Applications for quantum computing systems include accurately simulating chemical and biological processes, revealing secret communications, machine learning and efficiently optimising very complex systems.

Devices that depend directly on quantum mechanical properties and effects for high precision and high sensitivity measurements. Applications for quantum sensors include enhanced imaging, passive navigation, remote sensing, quantum radar, and threat detection for defence.

Sensing, timing and navigation

Imaging systems with significantly enhanced capabilities, such as increased resolution, increased sensitivity, smaller devices, faster image capture or otherwise novel and useful capabilities. Applications include healthcare, creative industries, surveillance, and scientific research.

Devices that keep time by measuring the frequency of radiation emitted or absorbed by particular atoms. Atomic clocks are the most accurate timekeeping devices known and are used (directly or indirectly) for tasks where measuring time with precision and consistency is essential. Applications for atomic clocks include active and passive navigation systems, processing financial transactions and synchronising telecommunications networks.

Devices that detect minute changes in Earth’s gravitational field. Applications for gravitational-force sensors include passive navigation enhancement and detecting mineral deposits, concealed tunnels and other subsurface features that create tiny variations in Earth’s gravitational field.

Systems and devices that can calculate the position of an object relative to a reference point without using any external references. Applications for high precision inertial navigation systems include replacing or augmenting other navigation systems that require external references—like GPS—in places where external signals can be blocked or corrupted; e.g. underground or in cities with narrow streets and tall buildings.

Devices that can detect and measure the strength and/or direction of magnetic fields. Applications for magnetic field sensors include passive navigation, imaging for health, metallurgy, scientific research and threat detection for defence.

Miniature devices (generally smaller than 10 mm3) that can detect and record or communicate changes in their environment, such as temperature, radiation, vibration, light, chemicals or moisture. Applications for miniature sensors include ‘smart dust’ wireless sensor networks to monitor environmental conditions in agriculture or near possible sources of pollution.

Multispectral imaging sensors capture data across several discrete ranges across the electromagnetic spectrum, such as red, green, blue and near infrared light; hyperspectral imaging sensors further this approach by capturing hundreds of much smaller ranges across the electromagnetic spectrum. Applications for multispectral and hyperspectral imaging sensors include healthcare, defence, agriculture, manufacturing and machine vision for autonomous vehicles and robots.

Devices that use light to detect changes in the environment or in materials. Applications for photonic sensors are broad, ranging from mainstream photography, through to sensors for environments where electrical or chemical based sensors are impractical or unreliable, such as laser-based gas sensors to detect explosive materials or flexible photonic sensors embedded inside the human body to monitor bodily processes.

Systems that listen for radio waves and microwaves reflected off objects and surfaces—such as people, buildings, aircraft and mountains—to ‘see’ how far away and how fast those objects are moving. Active radar systems send their own radio signals to reflect off objects; passive radar systems listen for radio signals sent by targets or reflections of signals already present in the environment (e.g. television signals). Applications for radar include weather forecasting, situational awareness, connected and autonomous vehicles, virtual and augmented reality systems, and defence.

Networks of satellites that broadcast precise time signals and other information, which Earth-based devices can use to calculate their location and for navigation. Advanced systems enable greater location accuracy and faster location finding, and greater resistance to unintentional signal interference and intentional jamming or spoofing.

Sensor devices and systems than can be cost-effectively deployed in large numbers and over large areas to monitor physical conditions and communicate findings to one or more locations. Applications for scalable and sustainable sensor networks include smart electricity grids, intelligent transportation systems and smart homes.

Systems that listen for soundwaves created by, or reflected off, objects—such as boats, submarines, fish and underwater mountains—to identify those objects and/or ‘see’ how far away and how fast those objects are moving. Applications for sonar and acoustic sensors include monitoring marine wildlife, and threat detection, identification and targeting for defence.

Transportation, robotics and space

Engine technologies that enable greater speed, range, and fuel-efficiency for aerial vehicles. Examples include hypersonic technologies such as ramjet and scramjet engines that allow aircraft and weapons to travel beyond Mach 5 (i.e. flying more than five times the speed of sound).

Robots capable of performing complex manual tasks usually performed by humans, including by teaming with humans and/or self-assembling to adapt to new or changed environments. Applications for advanced robotics include industry and manufacturing, defence and public safety, and healthcare and household tasks.

Self-governing machines that can independently perform tasks under limited direction or guidance by a human operator. Applications include passenger and freight transport, un-crewed underwater vehicles, industrial robots, public safety and defence.

Un-crewed air, ground, surface and underwater vehicles and robots that can achieve goals with limited or no human direction, or collaborate to achieve common goals in a self-organising swarm.

Satellites with relatively low mass and size, usually mass under 500 kg and no larger than a domestic refrigerator or washing machine. Applications include lower-cost earth observation constellations and wide area communications networks.

Systems to transport payloads—such as satellites or spacecraft—from the surface of the Earth to space safely, reliably and cost-effectively.

How will the Critical Technology Fund operate?

The Critical Technology Fund is a funding opportunity to support Australian companies to commercialise new products and processes based upon already existing or new IP. The exact detail of the program is yet to be confirmed, so this is a guide to what you can expect.

The Critical Technology Fund is intended to fund later stage commercialisation, not early-stage research-based programs. However, projects are still encouraged to include collaboration with research partners.

Critical Technolgy Fund

Background

The goal of the Critical Technology Fund is to drive innovation, productivity and competitiveness across Australia’s manufacturing industry.

The Critical Technology Fund is an industry-led, not-for-profit organisation and is run by a board and management team of industry experts. It is connected with a nationwide network of manufacturers, universities and research institutions, and export hubs.

 

Objectives

The objectives of the Critical Technology Fund are to fund projects that:

  • Commercialise new products and processes within the Australian manufacturing industry that are at the TRL 6 to 9.
  • Invest in Australian manufacturing projects that aim to transition a new product or process from the pilot/ prototype stage to full commercial operations.

The intended outcomes of the Critical Technology Fund are:

  • To increase the capability and competitiveness of Australian manufacturers under the Critical Technology Priorities: Food and Beverage; Medical Products; Resources Technology and Critical Minerals processing; Recycling and Clean Energy; Defence; and Space, through the implementation of new technologies
  • To increase productivity and create jobs in the Australian manufacturing industry

Critical Technolgy Fund

 

Eligible Projects

Projects funded through the Critical Technology Fund may include the following activities:

  • Collaboration and networking with other businesses to develop a product and establish market potential.
  • Collaborating with research and technology hubs/centres to test ideas and share knowledge.
  • Engaging external professionals to provide commercialisation and market advice, such as identifying market opportunities and developing a market strategy.
  • Creating distribution strategies, such as market entry pathway and identifying domestic supply chains.
  • Developing a product for commercialisation using high value manufacturing techniques or processes such as rapid prototyping or using state-of-the-art manufacturing plant.
  • Acquiring, constructing, installing and commissioning of new machinery and equipment to facilitate the project
  • Research collaboration as it relates to the validation/viability of later stage commercialisation, and
  • Approved production and post-production manufacturing activities related to commercialisation.

The intended outcomes of the Critical Technology Fund are to increase the capability and competitiveness of Australian manufacturers under the Critical Technologies List through the implementation of new technologies; and to increase productivity and create jobs in the Australian manufacturing industry. 

Critical Technolgy Fund

Eligible Applicants

To be eligible for the Critical Technology Fund you must:

  • Have an Australian Company Number (ACN)
  • Have an Australian Business Number (ABN)
  • Be non-tax-exempt
  • Be registered for the Goods and Services Tax (GST)
  • and be an entity incorporated in Australia, including start-ups and a trading corporation, where your trading activities form a sufficiently significant proportion of the corporation’s overall activities as to merit it being described as a trading corporation or are a substantial and not merely peripheral activity of the corporation.

Timing

Applications are not currently open. Contact us to discuss your project

 

More Information

Critical Technolgy Fund

Latest News

The federal government must ensure its $1 billion Critical Technologies Fund has the right settings in place to avoid “crowding out” organic investment, the Tech Council of Australia says. A new report highlights Australia’s technology strengths and weaknesses relative to the rest of the world.

The report, released on Wednesday, reveals Australia already has a “head start” in areas like business software and BioTech.

A further 13 areas are considered “fair shots”, or areas identified as having high potential for Australia to become globally competitive such as quantum and AgTech. But it could be possible that the government’s $1 billion Critical Technologies Fund, announced ahead of the election, could force out funding that would have otherwise occurred naturally.

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