Canberra offers up AU$1.1m for startups to solve government problems

The grant round asks startups and small businesses to solve five public policy challenges within the Australian government.

The federal government is making another gesture to the small business and startup communities, offering AU$1.1 million in grants to find ways to make government policy better.

The grants came after the second funding round under the Business Research and Innovation Initiative (BRII), with smaller companies to be remunerated for developing "creative solutions to government policy challenges"

The grant round asks businesses to solve five public policy challenges: Fast and secure digital identity verification for people experiencing family and domestic violence; intelligent data to transform tourism service delivery; uplifting government capability to help deliver "world-leading" digital services; managing the biosecurity of hitchhiking pests and contaminants on shipping containers; and automating complex determinations for Australian government information.

"We recognise that government doesn't always have the solution to policy issues. Australian businesses are able to think beyond the confines of bureaucracies and develop products and processes in response to a specific need," Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said.

"This also benefits businesses as it gives them experience in working closely with government agencies as their customers."

The most successful ideas may then be eligible for a further grant of up to AU$1 million to develop a prototype or proof of concept over the following 18 months, Andrews explained.

The minister on Friday also announced that four incubators would be receiving a little over AU$1.7 million to help Australian startups in sectors like agricultural technology and advanced manufacturing.

The latest funding offers, made under the government's AU$23 million Incubator Support initiative, will assist two projects from Queensland, one from South Australia, and another from New South Wales.

Rockhampton Regional Council's SmartHub Rockhampton "turbo-traction lab" will deliver an 80-day workshop program with a lab to focus on helping participants build "modern businesses".

Meanwhile, the Central Highlands Development Corporation and partner X-Labs present AgFrontier, which is a new agtech incubator for regional and remote startups, will also be aided through the initiative.

The University of South Australia's Innovation and Collaboration Centre Whyalla, which is a hub for regional SA, will provide a dedicated co-working space and program of support, including fast gigabit network speeds and mentoring with its funding.

Lastly, Cicada Innovations' Rapid prototyping space and design thinking capabilities for startups will "foster a community of innovators" by delivering design thinking programs, Andrews said.

The Incubator Support initiative is part of the Australian government's Entrepreneurs' Programme.

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