New CSIRO program to give SMEs R&D boost in manufacturing

Australia’s national science agency CSIRO has unveiled a new program that will provide free research and development (R&D) support to businesses to help them develop new products or services.

SMEs working on new advanced manufacturing solutions can sign up for the free 10-week online Innovate to Grow program with 25 spots being offered. The program is open to all companies, regardless of sector, who incorporate, or would like to incorporate, advanced manufacturing to improve their existing business operations.

Upon completion of the program, participants will be able to access facilitation support, through CSIRO, to connect to research expertise nationally, along with dollar-matched R&D funding.

The program aims to boost Australia’s advanced manufacturing capability through the development of R&D knowledge among SMEs. According to CSIRO’s Director of Manufacturing, Marcus Zipper, global supply chain disruptions highlighted the need to build Australia’s advanced manufacturing capability.

“Advanced manufacturing plays an important role in so many sectors, with manufacturing contributing about six per cent of Australia’s GDP, from biomedical manufacturing to smart robotics and automation,” Zipper said. “Building Australia’s advanced manufacturing capability is a key part of Australia’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, and much of this capability will be driven by SMEs, which make up 99.8 per cent of all businesses in Australia.

Deputy Director of CSIRO’s SME Connect team, Dr George Feast, said that to help businesses take their products or services to the next level, R&D was essential to better understand what opportunities might be presented to them.

“Even though we know R&D drives innovation, it can be an expensive undertaking for businesses, risky and time-consuming for those without the right guidance and support,” Dr Feast said. “Through this program, participants will be given help to refine a new idea they want to explore and better understand their idea’s business and scientific viability. They will also be exposed to industry knowledge, hear from innovation and industry experts, and work with an R&D mentor.

“Even though collaboration is key in driving good R&D outcomes, research we released last year found that less than 15 per cent of Australian businesses engage universities or research institutions when they are thinking of exploring new innovation opportunities – our goal through this program is to up that percentage,” Dr Feast added.

CSIRO’s Innovate to Grow: Advanced Manufacturing program, commences on 6 September and is available for up to 25 SMEs. Applications close on 22 August.