Applications open for CSIRO’s R&D program to boost SMEs in critical minerals sector

Image credit: CSIRO

Australia’s national science agency CSIRO is inviting small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in the critical minerals industry to apply for a 10-week online program, which champions innovation accessibility for Australian businesses.

The ‘Innovate to Grow’ program, a 10-week online initiative, is designed to equip businesses with the tools and insights necessary to leverage research and development (R&D) effectively.

The program, offered free of charge, seeks to empower SMEs by providing them with valuable business insights and strategic plans tailored to meet their specific needs within the critical minerals landscape, CSIRO said in a news release.

Lucy O’Connor, manager of the Australian Critical Minerals Research and Development Hub, emphasized the pivotal role of SMEs in driving innovation and enhancing the resilience of critical minerals supply chains.

“Scaling up and commercialising critical minerals projects requires strategic collaboration to address technical challenges and drive sustainable growth and innovation in this sector,” remarked O’Connor.

She further explained that the ‘Innovate to Grow’ program aims to assist SMEs in navigating the complexities of R&D within the critical minerals sector, fostering collaborative projects supported by technical experts.

The program is particularly tailored for companies either embarking on early-stage R&D initiatives or exploring new ideas within the critical minerals sector.

Successful applicants will gain access to expert facilitators and seasoned researchers who will guide them in examining technical and business challenges, exploring R&D opportunities, and developing actionable business and funding plans.

Participants will have the opportunity to engage with researchers and industry experts, advancing their project ideas and discussing collaboration opportunities with leaders from CSIRO, other science agencies, and universities.

API Management, which oversees the Australian Premium Iron Joint Venture, participated in the ‘Innovate to Grow’ program in 2021.

Dr Alan Ooi, principal scientist at API Management, lauded the program for expanding their knowledge and preparing them for collaborations with research organisations like CSIRO.

“We would wholeheartedly recommend the Innovate to Grow program to other companies in the industry, especially to help them gain direction for their business opportunities,” expressed Dr Ooi.

The ‘Innovate to Grow’ program is sponsored by the Australian Critical Minerals Research and Development Hub, a collaborative effort between CSIRO, Geoscience Australia, and ANSTO.

Applications for the ‘Innovate to Grow: Critical Minerals’ program are open until 14 April 2024.

Interested parties are encouraged to apply for this unique opportunity to accelerate innovation within the critical minerals sector.