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About the program

Innovate to Grow is a free 10-week program coordinated by CSIRO for Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) who want to progress their R&D opportunities, or are in the early decision-making stages about engaging in R&D.

With the help of experienced researchers and innovation experts, participants can examine their technical and/or business challenges, explore their R&D and innovation opportunities, and develop actionable business and funding plans. You will also increase your professional network and become part of the program alumni, receiving offers and information after the program.

Key program outcomes

The course will help you make informed business decisions as to whether the R&D project you've identified is right for you.

It will step you through how to:

  • refine your innovation challenge question
  • assess the viability of your innovation
  • build your business case
  • prepare a strong funding application

As part of the course, you can expect:

  • Practical outcomes: We’ll step you through how to turn your idea into viable R&D.
  • Confidential feedback: All submissions will receive prompt expert feedback.
  • A mentor: You will be paired with a researcher to connect you with experts in your field.
  • To build your network: You will build key contacts in your sector.

[Music plays and the CSIRO logo and text appears on a blue screen: “Innovate to Grow” is CSIRO’s online learning program for SMEs, delivered in partnership with Australian edtech start-up Practera]

[New text appears: It helps SMEs develop their R & D skills by bringing together companies, industry-specific researchers, and innovation experts]

[New text appears: Here is what recent participants have to say about “Innovate to Grow”]

[Image changes to show Hamish Shaw talking to the camera and text appears: Hamish Shaw, Bellata Gold]

Hamish Shaw: Yeah, nobody knows their product like SMEs. They have to or they don’t survive. So, we all run around with 50 ideas in our heads about how to do things better.

[Image changes to show Jo Lane talking to the camera and text appears: Jo Lane, Sea Health Products]

Jo Lane: Often you go, “Oh yeah, this is what I’m going to do” but we actually need to break it down step-by-step in how much is it going to cost, what resources do you need, is this actually a realistic concept.

[Image changes to show Amanda Falconer talking to the camera and text appears: Amanda Falconer, Bestie Kitchen]

Amanda Falconer: Doing the “Innovate to Grow” programme really made that accessible to me and demystified that. And it also gave me some tools and rigour around trying to develop a research programme and work out the funding sources for that.

[Image changes to show Hamish talking to the camera]

Hamish Shaw: We had great exposure to, along the way to several experts and those contacts I think will be invaluable going forward. I do feel they’re the sort of people, if I drop them a line they’d give me 15, 20 minutes, and certainly heading you in the right direction could save you months.

[Image changes to show Amanda talking to the camera]

Amanda Falconer: There was exposure to peers, people in businesses that I probably wouldn’t ordinarily come across who were having experiences, not the same as mine, but still things that I could learn from.

[Image changes to show two Emerging High Growth graphs on a web page and then the image changes to show a Research Engagement model web page]

Jo Lane: What I found most valuable was opportunities to talk with other participants and hear about their challenges.

[Image changes to show Hamish talking to the camera]

Hamish Shaw: We were very lucky it was CSIRO; I think they were sort of at the centre of everything.

[Image changes to show Amanda talking to the camera]

Amanda Falconer: It certainly paid back my time ten-fold I think.

[Image changes to show a Collaboration & Funding Options web page and then the image changes to show a pie graph and information about Businesses of Tomorrow on a web page]

Jo Lane: It’s been a great experience and opened my eyes to, you know, really anything is possible.

[Image changes to show Hamish talking to the camera]

Hamish Lane: I think the programme is a fantastic idea.

[Image changes to show Jo talking to the camera]

Jo Lane: I would definitely recommend it.

[Image changes to show Amanda talking to the camera]

Amanda Falconer: I think it’s an awesome opportunity and I encourage you to apply.

[Music plays and image changes to show a blue screen and text appears: Find out more about “Innovate to Grow” at www.csiro.au/sme]

[Image changes to show the CSIRO logo and text on a white screen: CSIRO, Australia’s National Science Agency]

Hear from previous participants of the program

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Who can sign up?

Selection criteria (essential):

  • An Australian registered and operating business.
  • 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.
  • You must also be a business working in the sector of the advertised program.

Courses are currently offered in a range of high-priority sectors, including, but not limited to:

  • AgriFoods
  • Cyber Security
  • Space
  • Mining and Mining equipment, technology and services (METS)
  • Circular economy

You must currently be working in the cohort sector either directly, or indirectly, such as providing cyber security solutions specifically to the agricultural sector. Please note, there may not be a course offered for every sector each year. Courses for other sectors may also be offered from time to time.

Upcoming courses

Upcoming courses in 2022 

  • Cyber Security – Next course starts 28 July 2022. Applications open 6 June 2022. Register your interest.
  • Defence - Starts 26 April 2022. For NSW businesses working on R&D solutions for the defence sector. Applications are now closed.
  • Energy - starts 16 June. Applications now open.
  • Manufacturing - dates TBC
  • Health - dates TBC

We are always looking for opportunities to expand the program to new sectors, which will be listed on the website as they become available. This is a high-demand program and places are limited.

Stay up to date with Innovation to Grow program opening dates

Other R&D support

CSIRO also offers other R&D support for SMEs, regardless of sector, through funding and facilitation. We can help you refine your research problem, find the right researcher, and provide matched funding.

With the help of experienced researchers and innovation experts, participants can examine their technical and/or business challenges, explore their R&D and innovation opportunities, and develop actionable business and funding plans.

Innovation Connections - a free one-on-one facilitated service to assist medium-sized businesses in identifying a suitable researcher from research institutions nation-wide as well as providing access to funding to support R&D.

Kick-Start - aimed at start-ups and small SMEs, providing funding support and access to CSIRO’s research expertise and capabilities to support R&D.

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