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5 September 2022 News Release

Victorian Small to Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) with new innovation ideas contributing to sovereign defence and security are invited to apply for a free upcoming tailored CSIRO program, aimed at helping businesses build their research and development (R&D) knowledge.

CSIRO’s Innovate to Grow: Defence Victoria program, supported by the Defence Science Institute, is a free 10-week virtual program that will give Victorian businesses the skills and knowledge to pursue a specific R&D opportunity.

Deputy Director of CSIRO’s SME Connect George Feast said SMEs played a big role in driving innovation in the defence sector, such as through creating new advanced materials, drones or AI technologies.

“Even though we know R&D underpins innovation, it can be an expensive undertaking for businesses, as well as being risky and time consuming for those without the right guidance and support,” Dr Feast said.

“Through this course, we make the process less daunting for companies to navigate, so they feel empowered to pursue R&D with a research institution and ultimately have a big impact on the defence sector and company growth.

“Businesses will receive help to refine a specific idea and learn about how to partner with a research organisation, as well as build connections and opportunities with other businesses in the program.

“They will also be exposed to industry knowledge, hear from innovation and defence experts, and work with a R&D mentor," he said.

Previous participants of the Innovate to Grow Defence program have included SMEs working on a range of different innovations.

These include the development of smart soldier suits, advanced communications, which translate foreign conversation in real time, as well as the application of advanced materials.

Upon completion of the program, participants may be able to access facilitation support, through CSIRO, to connect to research expertise nationally, along with dollar-matched R&D funding.

The Defence Science Industry’s Industry Engagement Manager Craig Butler said SMEs played a key role in contributing.

“We’ve had alumni of the program go on to CSIRO Kick-Start projects, apply for state-based funding programs, and create connections with fellow participants to collaborate on a new project," Mr Butler said.

“Victorian SME’s have been consistent contributors of new ideas to the local and international defence sectors, often developing dual use technology.

“However, many of these great ideas fail to proceed to commercial success because of innovation realisation challenges," he said.

Dr Feast emphasised the importance of collaboration in driving good R&D outcomes.

“We know collaboration leads to much better results for businesses, however research we released last year found that less than 15 per cent of Australian businesses engage universities or research institutions when they are thinking of exploring new innovation opportunities – our goal is to up that percentage,” Dr Feast said.

The program is open to all Victorian companies, regardless of sector, who have an idea to pursue a new type of innovation that could be relevant for the defence industry.

Applications for CSIRO’s Innovate to Grow: Defence Victoria program are open until Monday 3 October, with the program commencing Monday 17 October.

Apply for the Innovate to Grow: Defence Victoria program

This program is jointly funded by the Defence Science Institute.

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