What is the CSIRO Innovation Fund?

The CSIRO Innovation Fund is a $200 million fund to commercialise early stage innovations from CSIRO, universities and other publicly-funded research bodies.

 

Background

CSIRO Financial Services Pty Ltd trading as Main Sequence Ventures is manager of the CSIRO Innovation Fund (CSIRO Innovation Fund 1, LP and CSIRO Innovation Follow-on Fund 1 “the Fund“), which is intended to help improve the translation of Australian publicly-funded research into commercial outcomes and stimulate innovation in Australia.

The CSIRO Innovation Fund will support co-investment in new spin-out and start-up companies, and SMEs engaged in the translation of research generated in the publicly-funded research sector.

 

Objective

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:

  1. Improve the translation of publicly funded research into commercial outcomes and stimulate innovation in Australia.
  2. Help successful businesses to grow – amplifying Australia’s productivity and exports, and generating jobs, particularly in priority sectors of the Australian economy.
  3. 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.

 

Funding

The Fund invests in start-up and spin off companies, and SMEs engaged in the translation of research generated in the Australian publicly funded research sector.

 

Administration

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.

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.

 

Eligible Applicants

The Fund invests in start-up and spin off companies, and SMEs engaged in the translation of research generated in the Australian publicly funded research sector.

The CSIRO Innovation Fund is open to investment proposals from CSIRO, Australian universities, Australian publicly funded research agencies, and SMEs who partner with one of these eligible organisations.

 

How to get the CSIRO Innovation Fund

Applications for the CSIRO Innovation Fund will need to demonstrate:

  1. the requirement for funding to address the initial ‘Death Valley Curve’ in pre-seed and seed funding.
  2. how investment will bring forward the commercialisation of ‘deep technology’
  3. how it aligns to national industry priorities as currently articulated through the Industry Growth Centres.
  4. a commercial return
  5. a National benefit
  6. a focus of investment in Australia during their formative years.

 

How to get Main Sequence Funding?

Need for Funding

  • The CSIRO Innovation Fund applicant has insufficient financing to fund the entire project.
  • It would be unreasonable to expect that the applicant should obtain financing from alternative sources.

Market Opportunity

  • The need for the new product, process or service is clearly defined.
  • The type of customer is clearly defined.
  • The size of the target market.
  • The strength of the IP and how it will address the market opportunity.

Value Proposition

  • A clear, concise and compelling value proposition, i.e. why the customer wants the product, process or service.

Execution Plan

A sound execution plan to capture the opportunity and manage the risks, for example

  • a clear set of objectives
  • a clearly defined path to market
  • an understanding of the key structural or market challenges to be resolved
  • a sound IP strategy

Management Capability

The CSIRO Innovation Fund applicant demonstrates an appropriate level of expertise in:

  • commercialisation management
  • project management
  • business management
  • the relevant sector/technology domain

National Benefits

The project will improve Australia’s participation and competitiveness in the global economy.

Significant spill-over benefits will accrue to Australia through the conduct of the project and/or commercialisation of its results, including:

  • diffusion of knowledge and skills;
  • diffusion of new products, processes or services; and/or
  • increased collaboration between businesses and/or businesses and research institutions.

 

Business Plan

CSIRO Innovation Fund applicants should consider preparing a business plan against the merit criteria and should include clearly defined sections and headings including the following:

  1. Executive Summary – summary of who you are and the business opportunity, ie, what is your value proposition, what problem do you solve, for whom, and why your solution is better than alternatives.
  2. Team Overview – role and responsibilities of each member and how their expertise and experience is relevant to advancing the venture.
  3. Marketing Strategy – what is the market opportunity for your venture, who are your customers, do you have evidence from a lead customer/end user (e.g. a letter or email communication), how will you bring your product or service into the market (e.g., distribution channels, potential or existing partners).
  4. Competitive Advantage – who are your competitors and why your concept is sustainable.
  5. Key Resources and Development Plan – what resources do you require, what is the production process and plan to transform into end products.
  6. Financial Plan – this section should include detailed information about your startup costs and