Government spends about $50 billion on procurement every year in Australia. However when it comes to how that procurement goes on to foster innovation, Australia ranks only 70th out of 140 countries.

Rather than procuring existing products, the Government is encouraging businesses to develop more innovative solutions to important government policy and service delivery problems, with a pilot series of ‘challenges’ called the Business Research and Innovation Initiative (BRII).

Entrepreneurs will receive funding to create new products and innovations, while retaining their intellectual property and the right to commercialise the ideas in Australia or overseas.

What is it?

The initiative will operate in three stages:

  1. Work with Innovation and Science Australia to nominate five national policy and service delivery challenges.
  2. Innovative businesses will be invited to submit proposals to address those challenges and the winners will receive grants of up to $100,000 to test their ideas over three to six months of development.
  3. The most successful ideas may be eligible for a further grant of up to $1 million to develop a prototype or proof of concept over the following 18 months.

The initiative will help the Government tap into leading edge thinking and technologies unavailable through the standard procurement channels.

It will also provide SMEs with critical early stage financial support for the development of new-to-market innovations, and boost their access to Government procurement contracts.

When is it happening?

The initiative will launch on 1 July 2016.

The five challenges will be announced in mid-2016.

The Government has already made substantial progress on implementing this initiative, including:

  • Consultations with several State and Territory Governments to learn from their experiences delivering similar programmes.
  • Ongoing development of a process for identifying the most worthwhile challenges.
  • Drafting of programme guidelines and other documentation to ensure the effective and efficient delivery of the programme.

We encourage all innovative startups and SMEs to keep themselves informed about the progress of this new initiative. We will continue to provide you with regular updates as we move towards the launch of the programme.

What to do

Government procurement supporting national innovation

The Australian Government spends about $50 billion on procurement annually but ranks just 70th out of 140 countries on how well its procurement fosters innovation.

Australia needs to be a country that embraces risk, learns from mistakes, is ambitious and experiments to find solutions.

The Initiative is based on global best practices for procurement, adopting aspects of the United States’ Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) programme and the United Kingdom’s Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI).

The SBIR in particular has successfully supported businesses in their early stages that have subsequently become global success stories, such as Symantec and Qualcomm.

This measure complements the Digital Marketplace initiative. While the Marketplace aim to make it easier for information technology companies to procure business from government, this measure aims to find innovative solutions to government procurement challenges.



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