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The SME Collaboration Initiative aims to double the number of Australian SMEs engaging with publicly-funded R&D by 2030 whilst making CSIRO an exemplar in SME engagement.

With small-medium enterprises (SMEs) contributing to the majority of Australia’s economic diversity and employment, it’s a national imperative that these businesses are supported to seamlessly source collaboration opportunities and increase their innovation rates.

SME-research collaboration rates are still relatively low and to see these rates rise, we need work together. Much in the way benefits are seen when SMEs collaborate with the research sector, so too when the research sector, government and industry collaborate.

By lowering the barriers to research and development (R&D) engagement, we can enable SMEs to fully utilise world-class research expertise and unlock greater opportunities that will accelerate our national growth, productivity and competitiveness.

As part of the SME Initiative, we endeavour to work together with a broad spectrum of stakeholders across the innovation ecosystem to develop a coordinated, national approach to SME-research collaboration.

Key pillars

Our work spans three key areas, each with opportunities to get involved.

1.  Amplifying high impact initiatives

Leverage and expand existing programs, capabilities and funding, and fill gaps in the existing national framework to enable all innovative SMEs to engage with R&D


2.  Simplifying a complex eco-system

Lowering barriers to entry and existing knowledge gaps for SMEs to engage with R&D.


3.  Developing collaboration-ready partners

Fostering more collaborative relationships through an increased understanding of the potential value of R&D to SMEs and industry engagement to researchers and students.

Our story so far

Some of our Initiative’s achievements to date are:

Opportunities to partner and/or work together

We have opportunities to contribute and/or collaborate together through various activities such as innovation programs, tools and groups. If you would like to get involved, please reach out to the SME Collaboration Initiative team.

How the SME Collaboration Initiative supports CSIRO missions

In 2019 the SME Collaboration Nation mission in development was announced in the first cohort of CSIRO missions and challenges. It has now transitioned into a higher-level focus (both externally and internally) as part of a longer term one-CSIRO Initiative.

The SME Collaboration Initiative retains an active role within the missions portfolio, acting as an underpinning strategic support and developing new pilot programs in collaboration with missions in development and their partners.

We continue to play our part in the CSIRO missions program, and welcome opportunities to collaborate and proactively connect SMEs into the missions portfolio opportunity where possible.

Read more about the launched and developing CSIRO missions on the CSIRO missions pages.

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