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By  Laura Jiew 24 July 2023 3 min read

Key points

  • CSIRO’s ON Program supports researchers and scientists to navigate the commercialisation journey and bring their ideas to market.
  • These 10 tips will help researchers looking to accelerate their deep tech startup through CSIRO's ON Accelerate.
  • We encourage research teams from across Australia working on a high potential venture idea to apply for ON Accelerate.

Being part of a structured accelerator program can be a game-changer for researchers and academics seeking to take their ideas into the commercial space. These programs offer invaluable resources, mentorship, and networking opportunities that can really propel startups to success.

Our ON Accelerate program one of these offerings. First launched in 2015, ON Accelerate is a 15-week program for research teams to validate and develop high potential innovative ventures. It is specifically targeted at those working in deep tech science. 

To make the most of this experience, we've rounded up some advice and top tips from our newest ON Accelerate cohort of deep tech startup founders teams.

CSIRO’s deep tech startup founders at the ON Accelerate 7 Showcase event

1. Clearly define your goals

Before entering an accelerator program like ON, it is crucial to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve. Define your goals and understand how the program aligns with them. This clarity will help you make the most of the program's resources and opportunities.

2. Engage with coaches and experts

Take advantage of the experienced coaches and experts available in the program. Engage in meaningful conversations, seek advice, and leverage their expertise. Coaches can offer valuable insights, help you avoid common pitfalls, and guide you through the challenges you may face. Actively seek feedback and be open to incorporating suggestions. Remember, they have been where you are now.

3. Collaborate with peers

Embrace collaboration with your fellow cohort participants. One of the advantages of CSIRO's ON Program is its national coverage and ability to bring together a diverse group of individuals working on various projects. Engaging in discussions, sharing knowledge, and exploring potential partnerships can provide fresh perspectives, foster innovation, and create opportunities for mutual growth.

Embrace the learning zone, ON Accelerate offers invaluable resources, mentorship, and networking opportunities that can propel startup teams to success.

4. Iterate and validate

Use ON’s resources to iterate and validate your business model, product, or service. Actively seek customer feedback, conduct market research, and refine your unique value proposition (UVP). The program offers a supportive environment to test and validate your ideas, enabling you to make informed decisions.

5. Leverage program resources

Take full advantage of the resources and support offered by the program. This may include access to intellectual property (IP) consultation, legal assistance, financial and investment advice, or technical expertise. Utilise these resources to strengthen your venture and overcome challenges.

6. Embrace the community

Engage with the broader deep tech startup and innovation community beyond the program's formal activities. The community can provide ongoing support, mentorship, and potential business opportunities even after the program ends.

7. Stay focused and committed

Revisit and stay focused on your goals, maintain a growth mindset, and be resilient in the face of challenges. Embrace the opportunities provided by the program, but also be prepared to put in the necessary effort to maximise your experience.

[Music plays and images move through to show various ON Accelerator Programme signs, and then attendees at the event]

[Image changes to show Associate Professor Lea Kirkham talking to the camera, and text appears: Associate Professor Lea Kirkham, Participant, ON Accelerate 7]

Associate Professor Lea Kirkham: I’d highly recommend that research teams participate in the Accelerate programme.

[Images move through to show people seated at tables talking together, the audience listening, people in conversations at tables again, and then Lea giving a presentation]

It really helps you focus on where you need to be going, who your customer is, what assumptions you’ve made about them, and all these real questions that we probably haven’t been thinking about. 

[Image changes to show Lea talking to the camera]

And we’re really challenged to work out what’s our business, who are our customers and where we would be in the next year or five years.

[Image changes to show David Ireland talking to the camera, and then the image changes to show a group in conversation looking at a laptop, and text appears: David Ireland, Facilitator, ON Accelerate]

David Ireland: Our job is to give them some frameworks and help them think through, how do I approach this problem in a different way than I have before.

[Images move through to show an audience listening to a panel on the stage, a close view of the panel, a close view of the audience listening and talking]

And so to do that we’ve got guest speakers coming through and showing their experiences. 

[Image changes to show a team seated at a round table in conversation]

We’ve got mentors and coaches here, whose job is to kind of walk in, throw a grenade and see how the team reacts.

[Image changes to show another team seated at the table working together, and then David talking to the camera]

We’ve had venture capitalists come through and talk about fund raising, how the teams might be able to use that, and talk to the team about some of our highs and the lows and the pitfalls and the things to watch out for and some tips around what they might be able to do to also be successful.

[Images move through to show David talking with a team, a team in conversation at a round table, and then David talking to the camera]

It’s almost about undermining their confidence and making them realised that a lot of stuff that they thought was true may not actually be true.

[Image changes to show Andy Lamb talking to the camera, teams seated at round tables listening to a speaker, close views of various speakers at the microphone, and Lea giving a presentation, and text appears: Andy Lamb, Mentor and facilitator, ON Programme]

Andy Lamb: I think the, you know, proudest moment is seeing where the teams start and then really, you know, the progression that they go to like where they’re going to be standing on stage and delivering their final pitches. 

[Image changes to show a person giving a presentation]

Just seeing a bit of that professionalism that comes out. 

[Images move through to show a male walking up onto the stage, and then a close view of him giving a presentation]

They’re a lot more focussed. 

[Image changes to show two males in conversation]

They’re a lot more calm so that, you know, when they move beyond this their journey is only just beginning. 

[Image changes to show Andy talking to the camera]

So, it’s exciting.

[Music plays and image changes to show text on a dark blue screen: Find out more at –]

[Image changes to show the CSIRO logo and text appears: CSIRO, Australia’s National Science Agency] 

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8. Be open to change

Accelerator programs often push teams out of their comfort zones and challenge their thinking. Embrace the potential discomfort and failures, and be open to new ideas, models, and ways of thinking. Being receptive to change allows for personal growth and a more positive progression of your venture.

9. Build strong relationships

Ensure all stakeholders, including your institution and team members, are aligned on the state of the venture and the desired end state before starting the program. Additionally, build relationships with other program participants outside your own team. These connections can lead to collaborations, learning opportunities, and a broader network of support.

10. Embrace the learning zone

Make the commitment, be vulnerable, and enter the learning zone. It might not always be comfortable, but it is where growth happens. Embrace the challenges, question your assumptions, and be willing to learn from both successes and failures.

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