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14 November 2022 News Release

A new tool to help Australian businesses connect with the research sector has been launched today by CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency. The Collaboration Readiness Levels (CRL) tool helps small to medium sized businesses (SMEs) determine the best way for them to engage and collaborate with publicly funded research organisations. 

CSIRO SME Connect Deputy Director, George Feast said “our research found when SMEs collaborate with universities or research organisations in Australia, they have higher levels of innovation, are better able to deal with uncertainty and are more profitable," Dr Feast said.

“This novel tool is backed by research which was developed using outcomes from interviews with SMEs and related data analysis in collaboration with partners at the University of Queensland, Queensland University of Technology and RMIT University.

“The tool has been created in response to recommendations in the Enablers and Barriers to Industry R&D Collaboration report, where 800 SMEs said a device like this was needed to help them successfully navigate research and development opportunities.

“We anticipate that wide use of the Collaboration Readiness Levels tool will help Australian SMEs find well suited partners and programs,” he said.

CSIRO’s tool helps businesses understand their readiness level to engage with R&D and links each level with suggested steps to progress activities beneficial to the company.

The five levels of readiness are:

  1. Considering
  2. Networking
  3. Cooperating
  4. Engaging
  5. Partnering

Associate Dean (Research) Faculty of Business, Economics and Law, University of Queensland Professor Martie-Louise Verreynne said “while aimed at SMEs who are looking for guidance, the CRL tool can also be used by funding agents, business development workers and research organisation staff who have a role in commercialising science for economic impact.

“The CRL tool provides information to participants on the types of collaborative activity with publicly funded research organisations that most suits their business and enables facilitators and researchers to manage the expectations of SMEs, Professor Verreynne said.

“The Collaboration Readiness Levels are also complementary to NASA’s Technology Readiness Levels and can support a holistic view to approaching new collaborative research and development projects,” she said.


Managing Director Select 3D Anuja Rao commenced participation in CSIRO’s Innovate to Grow which supports SMEs who want to progress their R&D opportunities, or are in the early decision-making stages about engaging in R&D.

Ms Rao recently used the CRL tool and said “R&D is sometimes a slow and risky experience... It is important as a leader to keep the team motivated despite hiccups and set an incremental pace.

I liked that the CRL results informed our development of a draft R&D implementation schedule and I’m looking to now establish conversations with collaboration partners

Anuja Rao, Managing Director Select 3D

Collaboration is essential for SMEs to grow and innovate, and the CRL tool helped us identify our strengths and weaknesses in this area.

Robert Gangi, Co-Founder of Gangi Germicidal Systems Lindo

Access CSIRO's Collaboration Readiness Levels tool and related research report via


Team members of SME, Rapid Media, meet with CSIRO Innovation Connections Facilitator to discuss a collaboration project with their local university ©  Luke Marsden

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