What is the Small Business Innovation & Research Program?
The NSW Small Business Innovation & Research program is an initiative of the NSW Government that provides competitive grants to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to find and commercialise innovative solutions to well-defined problems for NSW Government agencies.
The NSW Small Business Innovation & Research (SBIR) program is the first Priority Action from the Action Plan for Accelerating research and development (R&D) in NSW, released in January 2021.
The Small Business Innovation & Research program supports innovative technologies or services that solve NSW Government challenges and which could be commercialised and sold to other end-users. Proposed solutions must be innovative technologies or services that require development and commercialisation, not existing solutions that are already commercially available in Australia or elsewhere.
The benefits of the SBIR program for NSW SMEs include:
- Up to $1.1 million in grant funding to develop and commercialise a new technology or service
- Working with the NSW Government to pilot and test solutions
- Potential NSW Government contracts for successful solutions
- Retaining intellectual property rights and the right to commercialise and sell solutions in domestic and global markets.
The objectives of the Small Business Innovation & Research program are to:
- Leverage the capacity of small and medium-sized enterprises’ (SMEs) NSW-based R&D to address the needs of the NSW Government
- Increase the commercialisation of NSW Government-funded R&D
- Support the technology and innovation sector in NSW, with the NSW Government being a proactive customer for innovation
- Grow the number of innovative products, services and jobs in NSW.
Small Business Innovation & Research Program Challenges
The 2021 Small Business Innovation & Research program will provide up to $12 million in grants to NSW SMEs to solve the five NSW Government challenges listed below.
- Connectivity Challenge – to increase the strength and resilience of communications networks in regional and remote areas.
- Hyperlocal Navigation Challenge – to assist passengers with vision impairments to access public transport services.
- Koala Count Challenge – to detect and quantify koala populations in NSW.
- Personal Protective Equipment Challenge – to reduce waste associated with discarded personal protective equipment and sterile wrap.
- Water Purification Challenge – to reduce microplastic and other contamination due to laundry services in health facilities.
R&D NSW will host a webinar for each challenge in July 2021. Each webinar will describe the SBIR program, the challenge, and provide an opportunity for prospective applicants to ask questions of the NSW Government agency proposing that challenge. The webinars will be recorded and made available on the SBIR program website.
Details of the webinars and how to participate will be available on the SBIR program website.
The Small Business Innovation & Research program has three phases:
Phase 1 – Feasibility study: An SME submits a proposal to solve one of the five SBIR program challenges. The proposals are assessed, with each successful applicant receiving a grant of up to $100,000 to conduct a feasibility study over a period of three months.
Phase 2 – Proof of concept: Successful feasibility study grantees are invited to apply for the proof-of-concept phase. Applications are assessed and each successful proof-of-concept grantee will receive up to $1,000,000 to develop a proof of concept over a period of up to 15 months.
Phase 3 – Procurement: NSW Government agencies will consider purchasing successful solutions.
Not all SME applications will proceed through all phases.
The Small Business Innovation & Research program is focused on supporting innovative technologies and services that:
- Solve NSW Government challenges, and
- Could be commercialised and sold to other end-users (for example, other governments or the private sector).
An SBIR program grant must be spent in accordance with the grant agreement and only on eligible expenditure.
To qualify as eligible, expenditure must:
- Be incurred by the grantee during the project period
- Be a direct project cost or incurred to undertake required project audit activities
- Fit within one of the seven categories of eligible expenditure.
The seven categories of eligible expenditure are:
- Labour expenditure including on-costs
- Capital equipment relevant to the project
- Material costs (including consumables specific to the project)
- Contract expenditure
- Travel expenditure
- Financial auditing of the project
- Other costs directly related to the project or project audit activities.
To be eligible to apply for the SBIR program you must:
- Have an Australian Business Number (ABN)
- Be one of the following entities:
- A small or medium-sized enterprise with under 200 full-time equivalent employees, or
- An individual or partnership, provided you agree to form a company incorporated in Australia to enter into a grant agreement, or
- A NSW public research organisation applying through its appropriate technology transfer office, provided you agree to form a company incorporated in Australia to enter into a grant agreement.
- Meet one of the following criteria:
- Be headquartered in NSW, or
- Conduct the majority of business research and development and production operations in NSW.
- Hold the Intellectual Property or the rights to commercialise the proposed solution.
- If successful, undertake to conduct SBIR program-related research and development work in NSW.
|Jun 2021||Phase 1: Feasibility study applications open|
|Jul 2021||Webinars are hosted for each SBIR program challenge|
|Aug 2021||Phase 1: Feasibility study applications close|
|Sep 2021||Applications are assessed for Phase 1: Feasibility study|
|Oct 2021||Grants awarded and Phase 1: Feasibility studies commence|
|Jan 2022||Feasibility studies are completed and grantees are invited to apply for Phase 2: Proof of concept|
|Mar 2022||Phase 2: Proof of concept projects commence|
Dates are subject to change.
- Small Business Innovation & Research Program Guidelines
- Small Business Innovation & Research Program FAQs
1 June 2021 – $24 million to fund innovation solutions from NSW small businesses
Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program will receive $24 million in funding over its first two years. The program was the first Priority Action recommended in the Turning Ideas into Jobs – Accelerating Research & Development in NSW Action Plan, launched by Premier Gladys Berejiklian on 25 January 2021. challenges including assisting vision-impaired customers navigate the public transport network, increasing the resilience of regional and remote communications networks, reducing contamination in wastewater and reducing PPE waste in the health system.