Thursday, November 04, 2010

Commercialising Research In Canberra

Greetings from the Austrlaian National University, where Patrick Mooney, Case Manager, Commercialisation Australia, is talking about how this government program can assist commercialisation of university research. Patrick pointed out that while Australia has good research, it does not have a good pool of venture capital to commercialise it. To overcome this the Australian Government set up Commercialisation Australia (CA), to provide advice, funding for Proof of Concept and Early Stage Commercialisation. Funding can include up to $200,000 over two years (up to $100,000 per year) for an experienced executive. Also Volunteer Business Mentors can be provided.

A major flaw in the scheme is that it does not pay for mentors to take part and does not permit grants to be used to pay mentors. There are nay number of organisations which would like my advice for free. So I tend to only provide this for genuine non-profit projects with social benefits. Under previous government schemes I was paid to help with start-up ideas for for-profit ventures. There seems to be no incentive for me to take part in this scheme, where the government employees and the company get funded, but I do not.

This scheme might fit well with the InnovationACT program, which encourages ideas from students in Canberra. The CA process and submission documents are similar to the materials the Innovation students are required to prepare.

Another flaw in the scheme is that not-for-profit ventures are not eligible. This excludes a rapidly growing area of economic activity.

The major problem I can see with this scheme is the low efficiency of this relatively expensive and complex process handing out a relatively small amount of money. It would be more cost effective to simply give the funds to a non-profit (or for-profit) group and have them hand out the funds.

The latest Funding Offers were 22 for July and August 2010. One paragraph is provided about each project. Some of interest were:

Commercialisation Australia Funding Offers for July and August 2010
StateApplicantGrantProject TitleProject description
ACTeWater Innovation338,750MUSIC Global – Stormwater Quality Management Tool for Overseas MarketsThe project will test the global viability of the Australian Music stormwater quality modeling software and lay the foundation for the global release of other eWater products. The project will create a new Music Global product and new support processes. These will be tested through a proof of concept in the UK market. The project will engage an experienced executive who will apply their expertise in the Australian stormwater industry to develop and grow the UK market.
NSWMarathon Robotics450,000All-Terrain Autonomous Robotic Target for Live-Fire MarksmanThe project aims to build an all-terrain version of the robotic target for live-fire military training, to validate customer requirements and develop a commercialisation strategy. Our current product is a two-wheeled balancing target, used by the Australian Defence Force and being trialled by the US Marine Corps. The project will benefit Australia in terms of export earnings and create flow-on benefits for Australian specialist engineering companies.
QLDVardr250,000Remote Wi-Fi Surveillance SystemVardr’s Proof of Concept grant will be used to develop ultra low-power, wireless camera technology for potential use in a number of security applications.
VICAquaGen186,496SurgeDrive Wave Energy Demo Unit on Lorne PierAquaGen is developing a groundbreaking new technology for harnessing the energy of the ocean’s waves to produce electricity or desalinated water. The Commercialisation Australia Project will enable the manufacture, installation and demonstration of the first pilot version of the patented SurgeDrive® system on Lorne Pier in Victoria
TASSpecialised Vehicle Solutions250,000Underground Service VehicleThe project will develop and field validate a demonstration service vehicle for the underground mining sector
VICDr James A Broberg50,000LinkStorage and delivery of multi-media content from the CloudCongestion and downtime on popular web sites due to excessive and unpredictable consumer demand is addressed by Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) that replicate content in numerous locations around the world. MetaCDN targets a major gap in this marketplace through sophisticated and economical “on-demand” use of existing cloud storage providers.

The Commercialisation Australia list was difficult to read, so I excerpted this from Government Grant Guru.

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