The new Industry Growth Program – worth $392 million, aimed at assisting startups and SMEs with commercialisation, and announced in the May federal budget – is now open for applications.
The IGP provides matched funding through grants worth between $50,000 and $5 million, supporting development of an “innovative product, process or service” that is either “new, unique or significantly different” in its market, or “involves significant enhancements or developments of current products, processes or services”.
Companies must be Australian, and must have turned over less than $20 million for each of the three financial years prior to the lodgement.
Companies must also operate in one of the seven priority areas identified by the federal government. (Other eligibility criteria can be seen here.)
In tandem with the opening of applications is the release of a new report by Industry Innovation and Science Australia, recommending the federal government identify businesses “with the need and risk appetite” to develop and deliver new products and services.
Among other findings, the report identified the proportion of medium- and large-sized manufacturers in Australia going backwards by 37 and 29 per cent respectively between the years 2022 and 2008.
It also found that 95 per cent of Australian SMEs lacked ambition to grow, and operated as risk-averse “lifestyle businesses”.
“While we outperform in the creation of start-ups and small businesses against other OECD countries, our industry structure is overly skewed to small businesses with less than 20 employees. It’s hard to compete when you are small,” said Industry Innovation and Science Australia Chair, Mr Andrew Stevens, in a statement.
“The outcome we need right now is the scaling of small businesses into medium sized businesses. This will build sovereign capability and economic complexity in Australia.
Consultations on the Industry Growth Program scheme opened in late-June, and former CEO of the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC) David Chuter was announced as its head in September.
Though the Growth Program is budgeted at $392 million, according to a report in InnovationAus earlier this month over a quarter of its budget will be consumed by advice and administrative costs.
Application and other information can be found at this link.
Picture: credit DISR/andresr