NSW govt opens innovation-booster program for SMEs

NSW has opened up a new innovation program that the state's government hopes will attract the best minds from the country.
Written by Michael Lee, Contributor on

The NSW government has launched a new initiative to help boost and promote innovation in NSW businesses.

Making the announcement on Friday morning, Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner opened up applications for funding under its new program, Innovate NSW.

The program aims to help link innovative small and medium enterprises with industry, research partners, larger corporations, and end users.

"We now live in a more globalised, more connected, more capable, and more competitive environment than the world has ever known. In such an environment, a strong and constantly improving culture of innovation is essential to our prosperity and our stability," Stoner said at Innovate NSW's launch, echoing sentiments made by Freelancer CEO Matt Barrie last month that the Australian economy needs to refocus on technology in order to survive.

"It's not good enough to say we punch above our weight; we have to work together to create an environment where innovation can flourish," Stoner continued.

Initially, Innovate NSW will focus on areas including e-health, manufacturing, energy technologies and services, online and interactive education, and transport, logistics and infrastructure.

The new initiative has been backed by four years of funding totaling $6.7 million, which will be spent across its four focus areas.

The first of four program elements is its minimum viable product (MVP) grants. These provide matched funding of up to $15,000 to SMEs that generally need the seed funding to demonstrate their ideas, prove their concept, develop a prototype, or similar.

The second element, its TechVouchers program, takes cues from Victoria's technology vouchers program. It provides up to $15,000 in matched funding for those businesses that collaborate with NSW research organisations to prove their concepts. As with the MVP grants, any technology a business develops must have the potential to grow in an empty market, or at least challenge the incumbent market leaders.

Businesses need not seek funding by themselves either. Innovate NSW's collaborative solutions program aims to help instances where a consortia of businesses may choose to challenge a problem in the industry. It will fund up to 25 percent of project costs, with a cap of $100,000 for projects that solve new problems or have the ability to disrupt how end-users typically respond to a problem.

Lastly, the fourth element of the initiative will see businesses included in the Australian Technology Showcase, a program to identify, support, and promote market-ready Australian technology businesses. Previously listed companies include Atlassian and OrionVM.

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