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Commercialisation Australia grants on hold: where the $200 million+ has gone

Tuesday, 1 April 2014 | By Rose Powell

The federal government’s venture capital organisation is on hold, with the Department of Industry announcing applications will not be accepted or processed until after the May 2014 budget.


This is not the first time the Commercialisation Australia grants have been frozen pending a review, with an earlier freeze occurring in late 2012.


StartupSmart understands from several sources that there is concern within the department that a component for startups, rumoured to be the early stage commercialisation funding segment, may be abolished post-May.


To get a sense of the importance of Commercialisation Australia to the industry we took a look at its currents stats.


Commercialisation Australia chief executive Doron Ben-Meir also declined to comment on the speculation.


Since its inception, Commercialisation Australia has invested over $213 million in 503 companies (as of February 2014).


The organisation funds companies at four key stages. These include a grant of up to $50,000 to access specialist advice; up to $350,000 to hire experienced senior executives; up to $250,000 to prove commercial viability of an idea; and between $50,000 and $2 million to assist early stage commercialisation.


Queensland has received the most funding deals with 134, followed by New South Wales at 126, Victoria at 116, Western Australia 63, South Australia 34, Canberra 15, Tasmania 12 and the Northern Territory three.


Almost half of the funding (42%) went to manufacturing and engineering startups, 33% to software and web design, 13% computer systems and hardware and 12% biotechnology.


Government venture capital can be particularly potent in emerging ecosystems. For example, much of the investment in Perth tech companies so far has included backing by Commercialisation Australia.


Recent investments include admin efficiency app Breezedocs, workplace app SafetyCulture, customisable radio app Omny, campus surveillance app CriticalArc, and epublishing software LiquidState.


The full list of grant recipients, amounts and industries is here.