The new CSIRO Innovation Fund supports the early stage commercialisation of innovations from CSIRO, universities and other publicly funded research bodies.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is our national science agency and for more than 100 years it has advanced Australia with a range of inventions, innovations and knowledge breakthroughs that have changed and improved the lives of people here and around the world.

As our economy transitions from a mining investment boom we need to ensure our strengths in science are bolstered and ready for the future. Given its integral role in Australia’s research and science sectors, CSIRO is uniquely placed to lead this transition and deliver innovation across a broad range of national challenges and opportunities.

What is it?

The CSIRO Innovation fund will have two parts:

  • An early stage innovation fund of about $200 million to support co-investment in new spin-out/startup companies products and services created by Australian research institutions. The fund will comprise $70 million in new government funding, as well as private sector investment and new revenue from CSIRO’s WLAN programme.
  • A $20 million expansion to CSIRO’s Accelerator programme to include other publicly funded research organisations to more rapidly prepare their research for commercial adoption.

When is it happening?

Expansion of the Accelerator programme will commence in 2016-17. The early stage innovation fund will be implemented in 2016.

In line with CSIRO’s Innovation Catalyst 2020 strategy, the CSIRO Innovation Fund will invest in start- up and spin off companies, existing SMEs engaged in translation of research, and company formation opportunities. This investment will be aimed to:

  1. Help successful businesses to grow – by boosting Australia’s productivity and exports and generating jobs as part through increased commercialisation of research outcomes of CSIRO universities and publicly funded research agencies, particularly in priority sectors of the Australian economy.
  2. Boost the Australian innovation ecosystem as those individuals and companies supported by the Fund go on to further stimulate productivity and a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.

The early stage innovation fund will be funded by $70 million in Government funding, as well as new revenue from CSIRO’s WLAN licensing. CSIRO’s intent is to have matching investment in the CSIRO Innovation Fund from the private sector, resulting in an investment pool of $200 million. The CSIRO Innovation Fund will have a unique value proposition to investors and potential investment opportunities. It will:

  • be open to investment proposals from CSIRO, Universities, other publicly funded research agencies and their partners including SME’s.
  • focus on proposals that bring forward the commercialisation of ‘deep technology’ across government-aligned national industry priorities as currently articulated through the Industry Growth Centres.
  • invest for both commercial return and national benefit,
  • focus its investment toward companies establishing themselves and with most assets in Australia during their formative years.

Funding will be provided without co-investment where necessary to kick start very early stage proposals and to address initial “Death Valley Curve” in pre-seed and seed funding, but co- investment will be encouraged.

What to do

PolyNovo

In 2004, CSIRO formed the spin-off company PolyNovo Biomaterials in a joint venture with Xceed Biotechnology in order to commercialise the NovoSorb™ technology developed by CSIRO.

NovoSorb is a biodegradable material that can be used to aid the repair of bone fractures and damaged cartilage, and in skin grafts, particularly for treating wounds and burns.

Since its formation, PolyNovo has successfully completed a clinical trial of NovoSorb Biodegradable Temporising Matrix (BTM) and is in the process of securing regulatory approval in the USA.

In 2015 the company was awarded a $11.8 million contract and a further $25.9 million in funding from the US-based Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority to complete a 150 patient trial with BTM.

In 2006, Acil Allen estimated the totals costs of the R&D contributing to this spin-off was $15.7 million. PolyNovo now employs 15 staff in Melbourne and has a market capitalisation of $73 million.

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Information courtesy http://www.innovation.gov.au/