Innovation Connections is a free one-on-one facilitated service to assist SMEs in establishing research priorities, locating researchers and providing access to funding to fast-track R&D projects. Innovation Connections forms part of the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources Entrepreneurs' Programme.

Innovation Connections can result in any of the following grants to enable SME's to undertake their research and development:

Innovation Connections, connecting SME’s to expertise within the research sector.

  • Researcher Placement: placement of a Researcher in your business to work collaboratively on a project to develop and implement a new idea with commercial potential (up to a maximum of $50,000).
  • Business Researcher Placement: placement of a business' own research employee into a publicly funded research organisation, including CSIRO and Australian universities, to work collaboratively on a project and/or access specialised equipment and research infrastructure (up to a maximum of $50,000).
  • Graduate Placement: employment of a graduate or postgraduate into your business to undertake a research project for 6-12 months (up to a maximum of $30,000).

Our experienced team works with each SME to identify their individual business opportunities in both critical and strategic research (including new markets, materials, testing etc), and we then find the best scientists, engineers or technologies from across Australia's research sector and make recommendations of how best to proceed. We take the stress out of grant funding by assisting with project design, applying for funding and providing guidance in contracting the project.

Innovation Connections projects are for 2-12 months in duration, and businesses are required to make a cash contribution that matches the value of the grant. Grants can be accessed at any time and are based on eligibility. Furthermore, each SME can access up to two Researcher Placements or Business Researcher placement grants, as well as one Graduate Placement grant.

Eligibility - who can access Innovation Connections?

In order to qualify for an Innovation Connections facilitation and subsequent funding, eligible SMEs must:

  • 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.
  • 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 a business working in one of the growth sectors listed above.

Innovation Connections case studies

We've profiled eleven of the exciting projects that have been enabled by the Innovation Connections program. You can read about them below.

Find out more and apply

Our experienced SME Connect Innovation Connections Facilitators are based across Australia and can apply their breadth of industry experience in manufacturing, medtech, energy, food and agriculture industries to assist your business in identifying research needs and opportunities. Get in touch with one of our team for a free consultation.

Further information on Innovation Connections can be found through the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources.

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