The Turnbull Government announced the new STEM⁺ Business Fellowship program which is providing $7.9 million to support links between businesses and researchers to increase productivity and develop new products.
The STEM⁺ Business Fellowship program provides grants of up to $105,000 per annum to help small and medium businesses undertake two to three year projects with early career researchers from Australian research organisations.
With co-investment from participating research organisations and matching cash contributions from small and medium businesses, this program has the capacity to deliver up to $24 million of research projects over the next four years.
Research and development can be expensive for small business to access, so this initiative and others offered through SME Connect make it easier and more viable.
The STEM⁺ Business Fellowship program is being managed by SME Connect, which has already helped more than 180 Australian SMEs create jobs, expand their products, services and customer base, and access international markets.
As an example – Victorian company Textor partnered with CSIRO to develop a novel moisture-trapping fabric that is highly absorbent and comfortable.
The new material is used by global company Kimberly-Clark in the millions of nappies produced around the world, including in Australia, the US and Russia.
In another collaboration with Victorian biotech company Anatomics and St Vincent’s Hospital, CSIRO has helped develop and produce a 3D titanium heel implant.
The implant was produced using a CSIRO 3D printer and implanted by surgeons at St Vincent’s Hospital in a patient with cancer of the bone who was facing amputation of the leg.
Small and medium businesses are critical to the Australian economy, making up 99.7 per cent of businesses and employing 70 per cent of the workforce.
CSIRO has a great track record of linking small and medium businesses with the right researchers and facilities to help them innovate, but this revitalisation will ensure it can offer the best service possible to its clients.
SME Connect not only links small and medium businesses to CSIRO researchers but also universities and other research organisations.
The SME Connect team is looking for small and medium businesses to partner with research organisations on innovation projects.