Hemp and virtual reality receive part of government AU$7.3m boost

20 Australian companies have collected between AU$1 million and AU$131,000 in commercialisation grants from the Commonwealth.

A virtual reality system named CADwalk that allows users to walk through a representation of a control room, and modify the room as they go, has picked up a AU$1 million commercialisation grant from the Australian government.

Jumbo Vision International, the company behind CADwalk, was a recipient in a funding round that saw AU$7.3 million in grants from the government's Entrepreneurs Program, an initiative that formed part of the Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda released this time last year.

Among the other companies receiving funding were hemp seed extraction company Hemp Foods Australia, Kinetic manufacturing 3D printer firm Effusiontech, cloud company Insightus, and Bombora Wave Power, which makes a wave energy converter.

Smaller companies were not the only organisations to gain backing, with the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology being granted AU$156,000 for a silicon photonic resonator for use in datacentre applications, and Sydney Children's Hospitals Network scoring AU$158,000 to commercialise an orthopaedic device for correcting rotational deformities in children.

In total, the Entrepreneurs Program has paid out more than AU$37 million in 75 grants.

Assistant Minister for Innovation Wyatt Roy said the funding would ensure Australian intellectual property was protected.

"The commercialisation of these products will advance our industries and create new opportunities," Roy said. "Australians are great innovators, but we need to turn our great ideas into commercial products."

Last week, the government announced that it was working on legislation that would allow Australian businesses to receive crowdfunding, with draft legislation for crowd-sourced equity funding to be negotiated before the end of the year, and discussion around crowd-sourced debt funding to start soon.

"We're in a global innovation race against competitor economies," Roy said at the time. "It's critical our policy settings put us at the front of the pack if Australia is to be the one of the best places in the world to start and grow a business."

Upon his ascension to the prime ministership, industry bodies asked for Malcolm Turnbull to put funding for technological innovation at the centre of government policy.

"In the next two decades, startups have the potential to contribute up to AU$109 billion in growth to the economy, and create 540,000 new jobs," StartupAUS CEO Peter Bradd said last month.

"StartupAUS is committed to continuing its work with government to boost Australia's prosperity and modernise its economy through a well supported and thriving tech startup ecosystem."

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