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FAQ: About eligibility

  • Research into a new idea with commercial potential
  • Developing a brand-new product or service with commercial potential to increase your customer base
  • Testing a novel product developed by your company

Innovate to Grow applicants must meet the following essential selection criteria:

  • An Australian registered and operating business with an ABN and ACN/ICN
  • A business classified as small to medium (less than 200 employees)
  • A business currently, or in the early stages of, exploring R&D opportunities for their business and have an idea to work on throughout the program
  • You must also be a business working in the sector of the advertised program or be working on an idea that fits the sector of the advertised program.

Please refer to the FAQ that defines R&D. Your idea must be relevant to the sector of the advertised program, and one that you believe is novel or new. You must also have an interest in pursuing the idea within your business, either now or soon.

Some examples may include:

  • Exploring whether artificial intelligence can be built into your business
  • Incorporating new manufacturing approaches into a prototype/product e.g. 3D printing

FAQ: About the program

No. Thanks to CSIRO and various co-sponsors, Innovate to Grow is currently offered at no cost to participants. 
No, all meetings are hosted virtually on Zoom. 
An estimated two-three hours per week will allow you to gain the most beneficial outcomes from the program.

Throughout the program, you can expect to engage with:

  • Guest speakers from CSIRO, universities, sector experts and SMEs
  • Mentors from CSIRO or universities
  • Fellow SME participants
The program runs for about 10 weeks, and is made up of virtual webinars and self-paced learning as follows:

Preparing for the program (~2 hours)
Participants will be provided with an on-boarding session, pre-workshop videos, materials and questionnaires to assist in preparing for the program.

Week 1: Workshop (~4.5 hours)

The program's main compulsory component is a half-day virtual workshop. Participants will hear from CSIRO industry and research experts as well as relevant industry SMEs. Key topics include trends within your industry sector, a panel discussion with collaborating SMEs, and current funding opportunities for R&D.

Week 2-10: Self-paced innovation program (2-3 hours per week)

Participants will work through the online innovation program at their own pace, supported by CSIRO experts and experienced innovation facilitators to develop and test their research ideas and business cases. Fortnightly webinars with guest speakers are also included.

Key benefits of the program include:

  • Personalised support and confidential feedback to help refine your idea and turn it into a viable research project
  • A mentor to help connect you with the right research expertise and capabilities 
  • Opportunities to grow your network through key contacts in your sector
  • Knowledge to help you make informed decisions as to whether the R&D project you've identified is right for your business and has a strong case to attract research partners.

Your access to the Practera platform and ability to submit deliverables will remain open for an additional two weeks following the final webinar.

FAQ: About the mentors

The mentors’ role is to meet with you virtually, understand your potential research idea and make introductions to researchers from either CSIRO or universities that may be able to assist you. 

Mentors can also provide advice on the research process, such as how research is carried out by their organisation, how long it can take, and some of the steps involved.

We ask for researcher volunteers from CSIRO and universities. Where possible we try to match you with someone in a capability area closely related to what you’re working on.

Mentors will make themselves available for the 10 weeks of the program, so you are encouraged to make the most of their availability to meet during this time.

In some cases, the mentor is working in the right area to progress the idea with you and their team, so it will be the beginning of a longer relationship.

In other cases, mentors and participants with shared interests have continued to meet occasionally to discuss their projects and the latest in the field. This is optional for those who connect well and have interest in an ongoing connection.

The mentors are there to provide answers to general research questions and to find an appropriate researcher for the SME to meet with. We expect SMEs to be able to provide enough information for mentors to know what sort of researcher is needed for a 30-minute expert meeting with the SME. We encourage mentors to share this general information with the other program mentors to maximise the prospect of finding an appropriate expert. You can ask the mentor to keep information confidential, but this may delay them in finding an expert to meet with you. 
No, we cannot provide advice on which idea is a good investment for your business. We can only help you to define the research question relating to your idea, provide general information about the sector you work in, and provide some support with your business and funding case.

FAQ: About the deliverables

Deliverables will include a set of templates that you will work on and submit for feedback, to help you develop your research idea into a potential project. These include: 

  1. Innovation Challenge statement 
  2. Innovation Value & Collaboration Options Statement
  3. High Impact Business Case
  4. Funding options statement

No, however the deliverables can help you get the most out of your Innovate to Grow experience. They are tools to effectively develop your idea, and to receive more specific expert feedback from the program facilitator.

No. Working on the deliverables is your responsibility and an important part of your learning.
Yes. The deliverables are only one part of the program. If you participate in webinars, read and watch the content on Practera, and meet with your mentor, you will also be able to complete the program. 
Yes, anything you work on during the program remains your own IP and is shared privately with the facilitator for feedback. No one else can access what you submit or the feedback provided.
No, the deliverables are set up securely in Practera so the only people who have access are the SME and the facilitator who provides feedback. They cannot be viewed or shared with anyone unless the SME downloads them and chooses to share them. 

FAQ: About NDAs

We encourage all businesses to be able to describe their business idea in a way that does not reveal confidential information. This is especially important when communicating with the wider group as part of the program.

In the later stages of the program, once you are connected with a researcher/research team and need to disclose more details, you should discuss with them whether an NDA may be required. They will coordinate this with you.

FAQ: About funding

There is no funding associated with the Innovate to Grow program. Throughout the program we will alert you to funding opportunities within CSIRO and elsewhere that you may be eligible to apply for.

Not necessarily, however the work (particularly the deliverables) you undertake during the program will help you turn your idea into a viable research project that can help you apply for either opportunity. It is important to note that both programs are subject to their own selection criteria and eligibility guidelines.

FAQ: After program completion

The program is designed to provide information about doing a R&D project, tools to help you scope out your potential project and some networking to start conversations. It does not mean you will start a project with a researcher or that you will increase your chances of doing a project with CSIRO.

Participants are asked to fill out a survey 12 months after completing the program. Past participants may also be contacted occasionally with the following:

  • Notifications of grants, conferences or events in your state and sector
  • Access to new tools designed for SMEs
  • To request your assistance as a guest speaker or for a quote for advertising new programs
Generally, you may be contacted two to four times per year, depending on the sector you work in and how many relevant opportunities arise.

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