As part of its National Innovation and Science Agenda, the Turnbull government and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) recently launched an AU$200 million fund that will enable the commercialization of early-stage innovations from CSIRO, universities, and other publicly-funded research bodies.

First announced as part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda last year, the fund will incorporate AU$70 million into the joint public-private sector fund over the next 10 years and AU$30 million in revenue from CSIRO’s Wi-Fi patent portfolio program, and an additional AU$100 million from private sector investment.

The funding will help support co-investment in new spin-out and startup companies, as well as small to medium enterprises (SMEs) looking to transform publicly-funded research into commercial projects.

The fund will focus on proposals that bring forward the commercialization of ‘deep technology’ across government-aligned national industry priorities, those determined through the Industry Growth Centers, and invest for both commercial return and national benefit.

The fund is also expected to focus its investment toward companies establishing themselves and with most assets in Australia during their formative years. According to the CSIRO, where it is necessary to kick-start early-stage proposals and address the initial pre-seed and seed funding, co-investment won’t be necessary.

Announcing the launch, Minister for Innovation Greg Hunt said,

This fund will bridge the gap between science and industry. It will allow our innovators to meet industry half-way by developing investable propositions, enabling our scientists to get their product to market more rapidly. It’s about maximizing value from taxpayer funded research and ensuring important discoveries make it beyond the laboratory.

CSIRO CEO Dr. Larry Marshall said the fund was the “final piece” in the organization’s Strategy 2020 and also commented,

We have aligned all the pieces: from market roadmaps that guide our science to address the most critical needs; to the ON sci-tech accelerator to help Australia’s scientists apply their science for national benefit; and now we have the innovation fund to invest in those ideas and reap the rewards of their success. It’s a virtuous cycle of investment in taking our best ideas from bench-top to beta to buyer. This clears the pathway for science and technology to navigate Australia’s future.

The fund will be headed by venture capitalist and co-founder of Blackbird Ventures, Bill Bartee and other management team members to join Bartee in the first quarter of 2017.

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