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Innovation Connections, connecting SME’s to expertise within the research sector.

We deliver the Innovation Connections service as part of the Entrepreneurs' Programme offered by the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources.It provides eligible businesses access to expert advice, and financial support through grants and incentives.

When you join the program, you will receive practical advice and mentorship from a dedicated team of facilitators, who will work together with you to help achieve your business's vision. Our facilitators can help guide you to be more competitive and productive, attract investors and commercialise your products, and work with the research sector to develop innovative solutions.

If you are ready to transform your business, the Entrepreneurs' Programme and CSIRO can help you take the next step.

The Entrepreneurs' Programme provides a suite of unique services to help Australian businesses strengthen, grow, innovate and commercialise. They are specially designed to help you achieve your business vision, facilitated through expert advice and financial assistance.

What we do

The Innovation Connections service helps businesses understand their research needs, find the right expertise in the research sector, and fund collaborative research projects. Businesses can also access grants of up to $50,000 to support collaborative research projects.

Our facilitators work with businesses to identify business opportunities in both critical and strategic research, such as new markets, materials, testing etc. We then find the best scientists, engineers or technologies from across Australia's research sector and make recommendations on how best to proceed.

We take the stress out of grant funding by assisting with project design, applying for funding and providing guidance in contracting the project.

Innovation Connections projects are for 2-12 months in duration, and businesses are required to make a cash contribution that matches the value of the grant. Grants can be accessed at any time and are based on eligibility.

Each SME can access up to two Researcher Placements or Business Researcher placement grants, as well as one Graduate Placement grant.

  • Researcher Placement: placement of a Researcher in your business to work collaboratively on a project to develop and implement a new idea with commercial potential (up to a maximum of $50,000).
  • Business Researcher Placement: placement of a business' own research employee into a publicly funded research organisation, including CSIRO and Australian universities, to work collaboratively on a project and/or access specialised equipment and research infrastructure (up to a maximum of $50,000).
  • Graduate Placement: employment of a graduate or postgraduate into your business to undertake a research project for 6-12 months (up to a maximum of $30,000).

Who is eligible for the Innovation Connections program?

In order to qualify for an Innovation Connections facilitation and subsequent funding, eligible SMEs must:

  • Have an annual turnover or operating expenditure between $1.5m and $100m (or a minimum turnover of $750,000 in remote regions).
  • Have an Australian Company Number (ACN) or an Australian Business Number (ABN).
  • Have traded for at least three years and be financially solvent.
  • Operate in one of the five growth sectors covered by the Australian Government's Industry Growth Centres Initiative:
    • Advanced Manufacturing
    • Food and Agribusiness
    • Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals
    • Mining Equipment, Technology and Services
    • Oil, Gas, and Energy Resources, or
    • Provide enabling technologies and services (e.g. ICT) to a business working in one of the growth sectors listed above.

Our track record

Since 2008, we have helped small to medium businesses grow and gain competitive advantage through accessing the Innovation Connections service. We have profiled some of the exciting projects that have been supported by the program.

Find out more and apply

Our experienced facilitators are based across Australia and can apply their breadth of industry experience in manufacturing, medtech, energy, food, agriculture, and supporting industries to assist your business in identifying research needs and opportunities.

Get in touch with one of our team for a free consultation.

Alternatively, to learn more about the Entrepreneurs’ Programme, visit or call 13 28 46.

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