CSIRO to launch $200 million innovation fund for ambitious startups, SMEs and scientists

Blackbird Ventures' Bill Bartee [middle]

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has unveiled a $200 million innovation fund for startups, SMEs and scientists, which will open in 2017.

The CSIRO Innovation Fund, to be led by Blackbird Ventures co-founder Bill Bartee, aims to commercialise early stage “innovations” being developed at universities, the CSIRO and other publicly funded institutions.

When the fund opens, it will take proposals from these research groups and their partners, including SMEs and early-stage businesses.

Bartee and a team, which is being recruited for right now, are expected to manage the fund from early 2017.

“To ensure the best ideas have the greatest impact, we will back the most ambitious entrepreneurs who want to build important, enduring companies,” Bartee says.

“The Innovation Fund provides a fantastic opportunity to help ideas coming from accelerators and elsewhere realise their potential in the commercial market.”

The fund, established as part of the federal government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda, will receive collaborative support from the public and private sector.

Of the fund’s $200 million in funds, $100 million will come from private investors, $70 million will come from government, and $30 million will be drawn from CSIRO’s Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) program.

CSIRO chief executive Larry Marshall says the fund is the “final piece of the puzzle” in the organisation’s overarching strategy to back and reward scientists for their efforts in helping the country.

The fund is in addition to CSIRO’s ON accelerator and forms another part of the organisation’s 2020 strategy to kick-start deal creation and scalable products across Australia’s science and research sector.

“It’s a virtuous cycle of investment in taking our best ideas from bench-top to beta to buyer,” Marshall said in a statement.

“This clears the pathway for science and technology to navigate Australia’s future.”

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Dinushi Dias is a journalist at StartupSmart and multimedia content producer. When she’s out of the office, she works on social projects with her We Love It Productions family and buddying filmmakers.
  • Frontignac

    All researchers across Australian Universities and many companies have one year contracts….given this lack of security I can’t see the alignment to underpin much of the research intent if people focus on the need for short term wins when in many instances projects may require sharing of data, results and information to achieve success on projects that extend beyond one to two years.
    Success requires commitment both ways.