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Commercialisation Australia chief confirms new grants on hold

Tuesday, 11 September 2012 | By Patrick Stafford

The chief executive of the Federal Government's Commercialisation Australia scheme has confirmed no new grants are being written, as the government engages in a widespread halt on grants in a range of sectors.


This comes as a separate report has confirmed the Clean Technology Investment Fund under the direction of Climate Change Minister Greg Combet has also been halted.


The government is understood to have put all grants on a temporary pause. Many of these grants are designed specifically for small and medium businesses.


Doron Ben-Meier confirmed with SmartCompany this morning that while Commercialisation Australia is still operating as per usual, no new grants are being written.


"There is a temporary pause while they review all of the grant programs," he said.


"It's not intended to be a long-term solution. But the program is not on hold, this only applies with regard to the writing of new grants."


GrantReady managing director Adrian Spencer says while states and territories have suffered pauses in grant programs before, the current scale of the federal pause is "unheard of".


He says there have been stoppages in the commercialisation programs previously – but they have caused a lot of uncertainty among businesses and more clarity should be given about the current state of the program.


"A lot of potential applicants walked away from government assistance when this happened before...it sent a ripple through the whole innovation community that benefits from this program."


Spencer is referring to previous commercialisation programs such as Commercial Ready.


"Logically we understand the government has to manage its cashflow. But it's the timeline that took people by surprise."


A separate report in Fairfax alleges the Clean Technology Investment program, created as part of the government's carbon tax legislative suite and worth $1 billion, has also been put on hold.


The grant is designed to help manufacturers invest in new energy-saving equipment. But as part of the general hold, it has also been temporarily halted.


The office of Greg Combet was contacted by SmartCompany this morning, but a reply was not available before publication. However, a spokesperson told Fairfax this process is "a normal part of the budget process".


"There is a brief pause in decisions while this information is being collected."


The original decision to halt grants was exposed two weeks ago, when SmartCompany reported Treasurer Wayne Swan made the decision to freeze grants. Experts commented that such a decision could have damaging ramifications.


SmartCompany published a list of the best federal grants in July. These will be affected by freeze.


This story first appeared on SmartCompany.