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What is the Industry Growth Program?
The Industry Growth Fund provides start ups with up to $5M of matched fundging to commercialise their innovative products.
It aims to help early stage companies facilitate the transition from idea to market.
Bulletpoint has worked with a number of early-stage companies to assist them to obtain commercialisation funding.
Bulletpoint assisted Ovira to secure $400,000.
Ovira was founded by Alice Williams, a 27-year old endometriosis sufferer who was inspired to create the new device after years of searching for a pain-management option for her own endometriosis. When she couldn’t find a solution that was drug-free or didn’t involve invasive procedures, she looked for an alternative.
Her fledgling company Ovira has just raised $1.5 million from Blackbird Ventures, to help establish its small egg-shaped electrotherapy device in the market, after promising early sales.
Bulletpoint assisted Airrobe to secure $396,050.
AirRobe’s Circular Wardrobe is solving the problem of textile waste by allowing fashion brands to offer their customers a simple way to repurpose their items. The project is building a unique application which captures product data (images, sizing and descriptions) at the time that consumers make a brand new purchase. This enables consumers to return to the application at any time and re-sell, recycle or upcycle their used-fashion in one-click.
Bulletpoinst assisted PolyNovo to secure $500,000.
PolyNovo plans to use the funding to support the purchase of new equipment and the upgrading of existing equipment used for manufacturing our NovoSorb SynPath product, used for amongst other things diabetic foot ulcers (DFU).
Bulletpoint assisted Thomas Global Systems to secure $2 million.
The company will develop and qualify two new flight-critical avionics products – an Enhanced Upfront Display Unit and a Keyboard Unit for Boeing AH-64 Apache Helicopter, a significant US military airborne program.
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What makes a product innovative?
It’s either something completely new and different from what’s already out there, or it’s a big improvement on existing products. This kind of innovation can really help a business grow and change.
What stage should you be at?
To be eligible for commercialisation funding, your project should be at a certain stage of development. This is typically measured using Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs). Projects should be at a minimum of TRL3 or beyond, indicating that the technology has been validated in a lab and is progressing towards a real-world application.
What are the Technology Readiness Levels (TRL)?
Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) are a method for estimating the maturity level of a particular technology.
Originating from NASA, these levels are used to systematically assess the readiness of technologies before they move to the next phase of development.
Each level indicates the progress from a basic concept (low TRL) to a fully developed and market-ready technology (high TRL).
Detailed Breakdown of TRLs:
- TRL1: This is where the basic idea is formed. It’s just starting to be explored and researched.
- TRL2: Now the idea begins to take shape into something that can be made or used. It’s still early, but it’s more than just a thought.
- TRL3: Here, active work starts to test if the idea really works. This is done through experiments and studies.
- TRL4: The technology is tested in a lab to see if it works as planned. This is like a first real test under controlled conditions.
- TRL5: Similar to TRL4, but now the testing is done in a setting that’s more like where it will actually be used.
- TRL6: A model or early version of the product is tested in a realistic situation. This shows how it might work in real life.
- TRL7: The prototype, almost like the final product, is tested in the environment where it will be used, like in a vehicle or machine.
- TRL8: The technology is now finished and tested to make sure it works as it should. This is the final checking stage.
- TRL9: This is the last stage where the technology is used for real, doing what it was designed to do, and it’s proven to work well.
Discover how the Industry Growth Program can benefit your business.
Call Bulletpoint on 1300 658 508 for expert guidance.
Early-stage commercialisation projects ($50,000- $250,000)
To be eligible for the early-stage commercialisation project grants, ranging from $50,000 to $250,000, your project should be in the initial phases of development. Specifically, it needs to be at a stage where you’re conducting feasibility studies and developing a proof-of-concept. This means you should have an idea or concept and are in the process of proving that it can work in practice.
You should be able to demonstrate that you’ve moved beyond just having an idea, to actively testing and developing it. This involves producing and testing early prototypes in environments that simulate real-world conditions. The goal of this testing is to show that your innovative product, process, or service is not only feasible but also has potential commercial viability.
In terms of Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs), your project should generally be between TRL3 and TRL6.
This means you’ve moved from initial concept (TRL3) to stages where your idea is being actively developed and validated in a relevant environment (up to TRL6).
At this point, your project is not yet ready for the market but has progressed from basic research to a more tangible and testable form.
Commercialisation and Growth Projects ($100,000- $5,000,000)
For the larger grants of $100,000 to $5 million aimed at commercialisation and growth projects, your project should be more advanced in its development journey. Specifically, it should have already completed feasibility studies and proven the concept, indicating a higher level of development and readiness.
The project should encompass the full spectrum of development, starting from early prototyping all the way through to the final application. This includes refining the product, process, or service to its ultimate form, ready for introduction to the market. Additionally, the project should demonstrate the capability to scale up to full production and expand into new markets, showcasing potential for significant growth and market impact.
In terms of Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs), eligible projects should generally be between TRL4 and TRL9.
This range indicates that the project has moved beyond initial lab testing (TRL4) and is progressing towards or has reached a stage where the technology is fully developed, tested, and proven in real-world conditions (up to TRL9).
At this stage, the project should be on the verge of market readiness or already operational, demonstrating a clear path from concept to market deployment.
Take the first step towards securing funding –
Call Bulletpoint now to discuss your project’s eligibility.
Who is this grant for?
This program is geared towards innovative small and medium enterprises (SMEs) engaged in commercialisation and growth projects in key areas identified by the National Reconstruction Fund.
- Value-Add in Resources: Innovations in mining, such as advanced exploration and drilling technology, mineral processing, and onshore refining techniques.
- Value-Add in Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries: Technologies for enhancing primary industry outputs, like advanced fertilisers, farm equipment, crop health management, and processing of food and fibre products.
- Transport: Development of parts and technologies for aircraft, road vehicles, rail vehicles, and ships, focusing on advanced manufacturing in transport components.
- Medical Science: Creation of medical devices, medicines, vaccines, and personal protective equipment, with a focus on therapeutic and diagnostic technologies.
- Renewables and Low Emissions Technologies: Innovations in renewable energy components, such as wind turbine parts, solar panels, batteries, and hydrogen electrolysers, alongside solutions for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
- Defence Capability: Technologies for defence, including products for the development, manufacture, and maintenance of defence capabilities.
- Enabling Capabilities: Advanced manufacturing technologies, artificial intelligence, robotics, biotechnologies, and space-related technologies, supporting broad industrial capabilities.
See full list of critical technologies the Government will invest in.
Examples of typical projects
Example 1: Early-Stage Commercialisation in Value-Add Resources Sector
- Company Name: EcoMining Solutions
- Innovation: EcoMining Solutions has developed an innovative, eco-friendly ore processing technology that significantly reduces the environmental impact of mining operations. Their technology uses a novel chemical process to extract minerals more efficiently and with less waste.
- Grant Request: $200,000 (Project Total: $400,000)
- Current Stage & Demonstrations: The company is currently at TRL5, having successfully validated their technology in a lab environment. They have demonstrated a significant reduction in harmful emissions compared to traditional ore processing methods and have completed a small-scale prototype that showcases their technology’s potential.
- Project Involvement & Funding Use: The grant will be used to transition from lab-scale prototypes to larger, pilot-scale demonstrations in a relevant environment. This includes refining the chemical process, scaling up the prototype for field testing, and conducting environmental impact assessments. The funding will also support initial steps towards securing intellectual property protection.
Example 2: Early-Stage Commercialisation in Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Sector
- Company Name: AgriTech Innovations
- Innovation: AgriTech Innovations has created a cutting-edge drone-based monitoring system for precision agriculture. Their system uses advanced sensors and AI to provide real-time data on crop health, soil conditions, and moisture levels, enabling farmers to optimize their resource use.
- Grant Request: $250,000 (Project Total: $500,000)
- Current Stage & Demonstrations: The company is at TRL6, having developed a functional prototype tested in a relevant environment – a working farm. They have shown that their system can accurately identify areas of stress in crops, leading to more targeted and efficient use of water and fertilizers.
- Project Involvement & Funding Use: The funding will help AgriTech Innovations to refine and enhance their prototype for commercial scale, including improving the AI algorithms, expanding sensor capabilities, and developing a user-friendly interface for farmers. The grant will also contribute to comprehensive field trials across diverse farming environments to validate the system’s effectiveness and robustness.
Example 3: Commercialisation and Growth in the Transport Sector
- Company Name: AutoNavTech
- Innovation: AutoNavTech has developed an advanced autonomous navigation system for road vehicles, integrating AI with next-generation sensor technology for safer and more efficient transportation.
- Grant Request: $500,000 (Project Total: $1,000,000)
- Current Stage & Demonstrations: The company has reached TRL7 with a fully functional prototype tested in real traffic conditions. They have demonstrated the system’s capability to adapt to various traffic scenarios and reduce accident risks.
- Project Involvement & Funding Use: The funding will be allocated to finalizing the system for commercial readiness, including refining the AI algorithms, enhancing sensor integration, and ensuring regulatory compliance. It will also support pilot programs with commercial fleet operators to establish market viability and operational efficiency.
Example 4: Commercialisation and Growth in Medical Science
- Company Name: MedTech Innovations
- Innovation: MedTech Innovations has developed a revolutionary non-invasive blood glucose monitoring device for diabetes management, using a combination of biometric sensors and machine learning algorithms.
- Grant Request: $1M (Project Total: $2M)
- Current Stage & Demonstrations: At TRL8, MedTech Innovations has a market-ready prototype that has been clinically tested and shown to provide accurate glucose readings without the need for finger-prick tests.
- Project Involvement & Funding Use: The grant will support the final stages of product development, including large-scale clinical trials, securing medical approvals, and establishing manufacturing processes. Additionally, funding will help in marketing and distribution channel development, ensuring a successful launch in the healthcare market.
Example 5: Commercialisation and Growth in Renewables and Low Emission Technologies
- Company Name: GreenTech Energy Solutions
- Innovation: GreenTech Energy Solutions has developed an innovative large-scale energy storage system using cutting-edge battery technology, designed to enhance the efficiency of renewable energy sources.
- Grant Request: $5M (Project Total: $10M)
- Current Stage & Demonstrations: The company is at TRL9, having successfully integrated their storage system in several pilot renewable energy projects. They have demonstrated significant improvements in energy reliability and efficiency.
- Project Involvement & Funding Use: This substantial funding will be directed towards scaling production, further R&D for efficiency improvements, and expanding into international markets. The funding will also support partnerships with renewable energy providers and grid operators to facilitate widespread adoption of the technology.
Transform your innovative ideas into reality with the Industry Growth Program.
Message Bulletpointto learn more.
How to get this funding?
To secure a grant from the Industry Growth Program, you’ll need:
- An Innovative Product, Process, or Service: You should develop something new and unique that could shake up your industry or create a new market.
- Market Potential: Your innovation should meet a real market need and solve a significant problem. You’ll need to show evidence of market size and growth potential, proving your idea’s commercial viability.
- Stage of Development: Your product, process, or service should be more than just an idea. It should have a working prototype or a clear proof of concept.
- Intellectual Property: You should have, or be in the process of securing, intellectual property protection like patents, trademarks, or copyrights for your innovation.
- Business and Commercialisation Plan: Have a detailed plan ready. This should include your strategy to enter the market, financial projections, marketing plans, and information about your target customers.
- Matching Funds: You need to contribute some funding too. This shows your commitment and capability to carry out the commercialisation.
- Skilled Management Team: Your team should have relevant industry experience and a proven track record. A diverse team with expertise in areas like technology, marketing, finance, and sales is ideal.
- Operating in Eligible Industries: Your business should be in one of the industries the program targets, which might include advanced manufacturing, medical technologies, biotechnology, agtech, clean energy, or information technology.
- Alignment with Government Priorities: Your project should support government goals for economic growth, job creation, and industry development.
Wondering how to align your business project with the government’s priorities for economic growth?
Contact Bulletpoint to learn how to get this funding.
Navigating the Complexities of Commercialisation Funding with Bulletpoint
Embarking on the journey towards securing commercialisation funding through the Industry Growth Program can be a challenging task.
Businesses often face issues such as understanding the intricate eligibility criteria, aligning their project with funding priorities, and navigating the application process.
This is where the expertise of Bulletpoint becomes invaluable.
At Bulletpoint, we’re not just consultants; we’re your partners in innovation.
With over 10 years of experience, our team has a profound understanding of the nuances involved in securing commercialisation funding. We’ve successfully managed over 500 R&D claims and lodgements, securing essential grants for a myriad of businesses.
Our track record speaks for itself, and our expertise is reflected in the highly positive reviews we’ve received from our clients.
Whether you’re just starting to explore the possibilities of the Industry Growth Program or you’re deep into your application process, Bulletpoint is here to offer tailored support and guidance. We help you cut through the complexity, ensuring your innovative project stands the best chance of success.
Don’t let the intricacies of the funding process deter you from realising your project’s potential. Reach out to us today – let’s turn your innovative ideas into successful ventures.
- Need expert advice on your project? Call Bulletpoint on 1300 658 508.
- Prefer to send a message? Reach out to us here.
- Ready to take the next step? Book a meeting with us right now and start your journey towards successful commercialisation funding.
At Bulletpoint, we’re more than just consultants; we’re the key to unlocking your project’s potential.
Industry Growth Program Application Form
The Industry Growth Program Application Form is very simple.
Well, atleast for this stage.
The main areas are:
- Tell us about your business (500 characters)
- Provide your website
- Do you have online videos explaining your business and/or project?
- Provide the URLs for these videos
- What advice or support are you seeking from the program? (500 characters)
- Describe your project including how your product, process or service is innovative (2000 characters)
- What stage is your innovative product, process or service currently at in its commercialisation and growth journey?
- Concept or idea
- Proof of concept
- Invention/research and development
- Proving technology performance/function at prototype
- Proving commercial viability
- Early-stage commercialisation
- Commercialisastion and earning income
- Growing up the business and scaling up of activities
- Select one or more of the following NRF priority areas that best fits your innovative product, process or service.
- Describe how your project is aligned with the NRF priorities selected above (2000 characters)
Commercialisation of the Morse Micro Wi-Fi HaLow chip
Morse Micro is a semiconductor startup that develops and markets low-power, long-range Wi-Fi chips based on the new Wi-Fi HaLow (IEEE 802.11ah) standard.
Commercialisation of the NeoNAV neonatal device
Navi Medical Technologies is a medical device startup focused on improving healthcare for critically ill newborns. The company’s NeoNAV device is designed to improve the accuracy and safety of central line catheter placement in neonates.
Commercialisation of an energy storage solution using encapsulated phase change materials
MGA Thermal is an energy storage startup that has developed a technology that uses encapsulated phase change materials to store and release large amounts of energy as needed. This technology could provide cost-effective, grid-scale energy storage solutions.
Development and commercialisation of a rapid diagnostic test for infectious diseases
SpeeDx is a molecular diagnostics company that specialises in creating innovative, rapid diagnostic solutions for various infectious diseases. Their tests aim to deliver accurate and timely results to improve patient outcomes.
Commercialisation of a non-invasive continuous blood pressure monitoring device
Tournicare is a medical technology company developing a non-invasive, continuous blood pressure monitoring device that aims to improve patient care and management of hypertension.
Joint media release with the Hon Julie Collins, Minister for Small Business.
The Albanese Government has officially opened the $392 million Industry Growth Program to help start-ups and small businesses commercialise and grow their companies.
The opening of the program takes place as a new report finds that businesses in Australia often face barriers in scaling up.
The report from the Industry Innovation and Science Australia Board recommends the Government identify businesses with the need and risk appetite to innovate and deliver novel products and services.
The report also details ways Australia can take steps to translate its world class research performance into commercialisation outcomes, helping to grow a diverse economy while at the same time delivering well-paid jobs.
The Albanese Government is supporting businesses to grow.
The Industry Growth Program includes:
- the delivery of advisory services by a national network of expert business growth and commercialisation advisers that will provide guidance on seeking investment, market testing, business models, and networking.
- the delivery of matched grant funding ranging from $50,000 to $5 million to eligible startups and innovative SMEs.
Supporting projects under National Reconstruction Fund priority areas, the Industry Growth Program will help expand the pipeline of businesses working to transform and diversify Australia’s economy.
Businesses can apply for expert advice now by visiting www.business.gov.au, with grant funding opening in early 2024.
The report from Industry Innovation and Science Australia can be accessed here.
Quotes attributable to the Hon Ed Husic, Minister for Industry and Science:
“The challenge for our economy long term is to scale-up our businesses and help them create more secure jobs.”
“The Industry Growth Program is designed to commercialise great ideas and know-how, build stronger, Australian businesses and put them on a pathway for potential support by the National Reconstruction Fund.
“Our government knows Australians want our country to be a nation that makes things, and we are determined to make that happen.”
Quotes attributable to the Hon Julie Collins, Minister for Small Business:
“Australia’s small businesses are known for their ingenuity and innovation – how adaptive, resilient and passionate they are. The Industry Growth Program will help turbocharge this innovation.”
“This is good for jobs, good for our economy and good for Australia’s small businesses. This is another way our Government is backing Australia’s small businesses to succeed.”
Quotes attributable to Industry Innovation and Science Australia Chair, Mr Andrew Stevens:
“While we outperform in the creation of start-ups and small businesses against other OECD countries, our industry structure is overly skewed to small businesses with less than 20 employees. It’s hard to compete when you are small.”
“The outcome we need right now is the scaling of small businesses into medium sized businesses. This will build sovereign capability and economic complexity in Australia.
It’s been 18 months since applications opened for the third round of the Boosting Female Founders (BFF) grant program. During that time up to 700 applicants were sitting on matched funds — waiting to discover if they receive a slice of the $11.6 million reserved for this cohort. However according to recent correspondence, that wait may continue into 2024.
Launched by the Morrison government in 2020 and headed by the Department of Industry, Science and Resources (DISR), Boosting Female Founders offers startups that are majority-owned or led by women grants between $25,000 and $480,000 to assist in scaling up their business.
According to the program’s online portal, it aims to “help women entrepreneurs overcome the disadvantages faced in getting access to finance and support to grow their startups”.
One of the key aspects of the initiative is that it offers its successful startups matched funding. This means that all applicants must have access to already committed funds when applying for the grant.
This is why round three of BFF has become a serious issue — hundreds of women-led startups, which the government claims to want to help, had funds tied up while waiting for a decision to be made. For some of the applicants, this is to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
This number of startups now sitting on matched funding has now reportedly dropped after the second round of the application process opened in mid-2023. But some startups have still been left unhappy with the process.
“We found the whole program completely useless,” a source told SmartCompany under condition of anonymity.
“We had the matched funding. We were ready to go. We had planned for it to be organised in October last year – that was the deadline.”
“And then they put it off for six months and didn’t announce it. And by then we’d fallen below our expected runway and couldn’t match it anymore – certainly not at the $400-something [thousand] that we were going for.
“It made itself completely irrelevant to us within that six-month period.”
Now applicants will have to wait even longer.
In correspondence seen by SmartCompany, it was revealed that the decision-making deadline had been extended yet again.
“Unfortunately, there have been some delays which has held up the process and we envisage that final approval and contract negotiations will occur in December 2023 to early January 2024. If the process can be expedited, then we will be able to notify all applicants earlier,” one email read.
The department would not confirm an exact date directly with SmartCompany.
“Funding for Round 3 of the Boosting Female Founders (BFF) initiative was confirmed through the Government’s Spending Audit. All rounds of this initiative are delivered through a two-stage competitive selection process,” a spokesperson for the department said in an email to SmartCompany.
“Applications for stage two of Round 3 opened on 20 June 2023 and closed on 20 July 2023. The department is now undertaking the final stages of that selection process, with the outcomes expected to be announced by Government shortly.”
The significant delay of round three has also called into question the validity of the grant applicants
“A grant application done 18 months earlier, when you’re looking at a startup, is not worth is not worth the paper that it’s written on,”
Fotheringham was an applicant in round two of BFF but ultimately decided to go down the bootstrapping route.
“Where a startup is at month zero — or wherever it is that they are — plus 18 months later are two completely different stories.”
“Some of those businesses would have folded. Some of them would have accelerated and might not actually need the money anymore. Others might have completely changed direction. Plus the macro environment has changed so significantly over the past 18 months – the economy and interest rates.
“So to be able to assess an 18-month-old business application for anything sounds a little bit strange to me.”
SmartCompany asked the department about its process around this, but it did not go into specific details.
“The department undertakes due diligence on grant applicants, including throughout the assessment process,” as spokesperson said.
Boosting Female Founders delays, ‘poor’ communication and a data leak
Round three of Boosting Female Founders was opened in May 2022, with expressions of interest (EOI) closing in October of the same year. Shortlisted applicants were supposed to progress to the next round, with the grants themselves being rolled out from February 2023.
DISR informed applicants in late 2022 that round three had been delayed. In an email seen by SmartCompany, applicants were told this had been pushed out again to June 2023.
A DISR spokesperson told SmartCompany back in March that the delay was due to the federal Government Spending Audit which looked into pledges made by the Morrison government. This resulted in the redirection of $197.7 million in ‘uncommitted funding’ from the Entrepreneurs’ Program.
“The [Boosting Female Founders] Initiative was considered under the Audit and as a result, the delivery of Round Three has been delayed,” the spokesperson said to SmartCompany at the time.
The information regarding the latest December-January date push is yet to be officially sent to all round three applicants. But apparently, this is par for the course for the program.
Several applicants told SmartCompany on condition of anonymity that information tends to be drip-fed to those asking for updates through emails, phone calls and the messaging function on the fund’s online portal.
“They don’t communicate. They don’t tell you. I had to ring up several times to speak to different people to find out that actually it’s on hold,” one source said regarding the original delay in 2022.
According to another source, information was passed around unofficially through the community of applicants.
“We were trying to take every angle we could to get as much as information as possible. I was literally emailing them once a week,” they said.
“You get the official communication like six weeks after you’ve heard from 10 other people what’s going on.”
But this hasn’t been the only issue with communication.
In early November hundreds of applicants from various BFF rounds received an email from the department, asking them to complete a 15-20 minute feedback survey.
Recipients included a mixture of current applicants as well as those who had been successful and unsuccessful in previous rounds of the program.
Several of the applicants that SmartCompany spoke to found the survey to be in poor taste considering the round three delays.
The vitriol of some applicants was further exacerbated by the fact that the survey was sent with recipients cc’d in, exposing all of their email addresses.
“I assume I’m not the only applicant to have today received an email requesting feedback on the process, via a ‘15-20 minutes’ survey,” one applicant said to SmartCompany.
“Not only is this inappropriate seeing as no grant decisions have been communicated yet and are yet again delayed — we have all been sitting on matched funding since early 2022.
“But also, to add insult to injury, [the email] was sent and recalled no fewer than FIVE times.”
According to sources, the emails were sent and recalled all within a 70-minute period.
Boosting Female Founders has been wrought with problems for years
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time that the program has been subject to controversy.
The eligibility criteria for the program was called into question while still being run by the Morrison government.
One startup was excluded due to the program attributing half of its equity to their husbands, who were not involved in the business.
Other founding teams with an even gender split also claimed to be excluded by outside investment from men muddied the gender-equity balance outlined in the program’s eligibility criteria.
Despite this, and rather ironically, some of the largest grants bestowed on startups in round two of the program had to be re-examined when allegations were levelled at them for not being majority female-founded or run. In some cases, they were said to have rejigged the structure to be eligible for the grant program.
Round two also had its own problems with communication. Back in July 2021, hundreds of applicants received an email congratulating them on successfully making it through the EOI stage of the program. Within hours it was retracted.
Is boosting female founders just government lip service at this point?
“The Coalition Government is committed to supporting women in the early stages of their entrepreneurial journey,” former Minister for Women, Kelly O’Dwyer, said when the BFF initiative was announced in 2018.
“Currently, businesses led by women find it more difficult to access finance than those led by men.
“We want to give them the best opportunity to succeed so that they can build financial security for themselves and their families, and grow the Australian economy.”
Five years on, the program has certainly dished out millions in grants to startups. But considering the consistent issues it has had across two governments, one could argue that in its current state it is not only failing to “boost” female founders, it’s actively hindering their success.
Forcing founders of early-stage startups to sit on matched funding — to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars in some cases — is significant, particularly across a 12 to 18 month period, depending on which stage an individual startup got it.
And this practice is certainly not what the department is out there preaching. In addition to spearheading the government’s Diversity in STEM Review — which aims to “recommend how the Australian Government can support change so that people can access and feel they belong within STEM education, careers and industries” — Minister for Industry and Science Ed Husic has been vocal about more money be afforded to women-led businesses.
“In the National Reconstruction Fund, when I talk about diversity, one of the things that we’re telling the fund to do is that they need to actually work with VCs to provide funds for female founders and people who usually find it hard to get that money. We will make that happen, too,” Minister Ed Husic said at a Startmate event in Sydney on October 19.
And yet here is Boosting Female Founders, under the stewardship of Minister Husic’s department, not only delaying access to grants but locking up funds. This has left these businesses with a choice to continue to sit on this funding or give up on the grant.
“We understand that your circumstances may have changed and if you no longer wish to continue with your application for this round, please contact the team… to withdraw your application,” an email sent to applicants in March said.
“I think it’s appalling. And the irony is that whenever we look at the lack of funding for female founders, and it is an egregiously low number, the reason given is always the low pool of female founders,” an applicant said to SmartCompany.
According to the source, there are rumours of DISR being inundated with applications which is contributing to the long delays.
“And yet, the reason why [women] are so underfunded is because there’s not enough of us. So which one is it?”
What is clear is the consistent issues and continued delays with the program have left a sour taste in the mouths of the women the program claims to champion.
“It’s an incredible sense of being let down and being under-supported. Then there’s the fact that it’s hindering our progress. It’s not just about not being able to get funding. It’s that it is causing us problems,” one source said regarding the matched funding.
Another said that Boosting Female Founders is doing little to nothing to help actual innovation by women in Australia.
“I’ve not heard anyone say a good word about that whole system. And these are all of the most innovative female founders in the country,” said another.
“I mentor a bunch of founders and I would never suggest that any of them include this in their plans. I would never even suggest that they waste their time on this.”
Australian biotechnology authority, AusBiotech, has provided its insights on the new Industry Growth Program in response to the Department of Industry, Science and Resources’ consultation. The Program, a significant element of the 2023-24 Federal Budget, aims to strengthen Australian SMEs and startups in commercialising ideas and expanding operations, aligning with the National Reconstruction Fund’s priorities. AusBiotech’s recommendations emphasise the distinct characteristics of the biotech sector, advocating tailored approaches for eligibility criteria, funding requirements, and technology assessments.
AusBiotech’s submission highlights four key recommendations: 1) Consider the unique aspects of the medical science sector when determining SME eligibility; 2) Reassess the necessity of matched funding for grants in the pre-revenue medical science sector, proposing a pre-approved concession instead; 3) Apply Technology Readiness Levels assessments with an understanding of sector-specific traits; and 4) Facilitate expertise from Industry Partner Organisations where SMEs face market gaps.
In the context of the biotech landscape, where around 80% of Australian biotech firms are SMEs working on novel technologies, AusBiotech proposes defining pre-market companies with turnovers up to $20 million as SMEs. The organisation asserts that the biopharma sector differs markedly from others due to its regulations, clinical trial demands, and prolonged development timelines. By advocating for a policy framework attuned to these industry-specific challenges, AusBiotech aims to position biotech SMEs for impactful growth while emphasising the need to capture diverse metrics for a comprehensive assessment.
The Albanese Government recognizes that the jobs of the future depend on the decisions made today. To ensure future economic growth in science and industry, they are investing over $500 million in their budget. The centerpiece of this investment is the $392 million Industry Growth Program, which will provide advice and grants to start-ups and small-to-medium businesses, empowering them to commercialize their ideas and expand.
By supporting emerging businesses, the government aims to create major employers for the future. The program will also increase the pool of investment-ready projects for the $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund, maximizing the return on taxpayers’ investments and fostering a clear path for entrepreneurs to build thriving businesses in Australia. Additionally, the government is investing $101 million in the responsible development of Australia’s quantum and artificial intelligence industries, aiming to position the country at the forefront of technological advancements.
These initiatives align with Australia’s National Quantum Strategy and the $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund. Furthermore, the government is fulfilling its election commitment by establishing the Powering Australia Industry Growth Centre, investing $15 million to support local manufacturing of renewable energy technology.
Funding for a $12.2 million round of Accelerating Commercialisation grants has been announced, with assistance going to companies including makers of EV chargers, products for green steelmaking, fruit harvesting robots and hydrogen energy storage systems.
Twenty-two companies were successful in the round of the program, which provides up to $1 million in matched funding to help bring new products, services and processes to market.
The Industry Growth Program is a government initiative offering advisory services and grant funding to support innovative commercialisation and growth projects in Australia.
Innovative small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with projects in the National Reconstruction Fund priority areas are eligible to apply.
The program funds innovative projects that involve new or significantly enhanced products, processes, or services, focusing on commercialisation and market growth.
Eligible projects can receive grants ranging from $50,000 to $5 million, depending on the project stage and scope.
Yes, industries like advanced manufacturing, digital technology, biotechnology, renewable energy, environmental technologies, and health sciences are targeted.
TRLs are a measure of a project’s maturity, ranging from concept (TRL3) to market-ready (TRL9), used to assess eligibility for the program.
The program supports early-stage projects from feasibility studies to early prototyping, helping validate their commercial potential.
Yes, the program offers support for projects focused on scaling up production and expanding into new markets.
Applicants can apply anytime, starting with connecting to an adviser for tailored advice, followed by potential grant application.
At Bulletpoint, we specialize in guiding businesses through the application process, ensuring they maximize their chances of securing funding. Contact us for expert assistance.
Myths and Misconceptions
A common misconception is that the Industry Growth Program is exclusively for big businesses. In reality, it’s specifically designed for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) looking to innovate and grow.
While technology projects are eligible, the program is not limited to them. It supports a broad range of industries, including manufacturing, biotech, renewable energy, and more.
Many believe that applying for government funding is always a cumbersome process. However, the Industry Growth Program offers advisory services to guide applicants, making the process more accessible.
It’s not just about new products; the program also funds significant enhancements or developments of existing products, processes, or services that lead to business transformation.
Unlike loans, the grants provided under the Industry Growth Program do not need to be repaid, provided the funds are used in accordance with the grant agreement terms.