Australia’s rate of collaboration on innovation between industry and researchers is the lowest in the OECD.

To connect more small and medium businesses with researchers, we’re investing $18 million in a component of the Entrepreneurs’ Programme, for a new Innovation Connections initiative.

The Innovation Connections initiative will expand and refocus the existing Research Connections programme to drive new industry-led collaborations between researchers and small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The partnerships will foster the development of new ideas with commercial potential and will identify the knowledge gaps preventing business growth.

What is it?

The Innovation Connections programme will:

  • provide more Facilitators so more businesses can access Australia’s innovation infrastructure, particularly in regional areas
  • make matched grants available to support graduate and postgraduate researchers placements in businesses
  • make matched grants available to support business researchers to be placed in publicly funded research organisations
  • identify opportunities to access research and development and testing facilities and develop specialised training options by working more closely with the vocational education and training sector.

When is it happening?

The Entrepreneurs’ Programme is currently running and will progressively offer these expanded services from 1 January 2016. The Australian Government has relaunched Research Connections as Innovation Connections with an expanded reach through the addition of eight new Innovation Facilitators located across metro and regional Australia. Innovation Connections will encourage and assist small and medium businesses to access knowledge, engage with researchers and foster innovation.

There are two new grant components to further support collaborative research between business and the research sector, namely the placement of Industry Graduates and Business Researchers.

What to do

Diagnosing diseases on the spot

Victorian medium-sized business Universal Biosensors (UBI) manufactures hand-held medical devices which are used by health professionals and patients to undertake blood tests. Using UBI’s biosensor test strips, the devices are able to diagnose and monitor diseases on the spot.

Seeking to grow their export business, UBI set out to improve the sensitivity of their test strips, which would allow them to test for a broader range of diseases. Supported by Research Connections, UBI was introduced to CSIRO’s Dr Helmut Thissen, an expert in bio coatings and surfaces. Together they began developing an improved coating for the UBI test strips to support a new range of tests and help UBI to expand its product range and increase its client base and exports. “By helping [UBI] improve their products, we’re helping Australia’s manufacturing industry grow into the high-end technology market,” said Dr Thissen.

“Our close collaboration with CSIRO will enable us to further develop the research and create superior products that can be taken into the international diagnostics market,” said Dr Alastair Hodges, UBI’s Chief Scientist.


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