New CSIRO Innovation Fund to propel Aussie innovations to commercial market

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The CSIRO has launched a $200 million Innovation Fund aimed at growing early stage innovations from the organisation, universities and other publicly-funded research bodies into successful businesses.

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The Fund, established as part of the Australian Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda, will support co-investment in new spin-out and start-up companies, and SMEs engaged in the translation of research generated in the publicly-funded research sector.

CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall said the Innovation Fund will comprise a commitment of $70 million in government funding, $30 million revenue from CSIRO’s WLAN program and additional private sector investment, with a target total value of $200 million.

He said the Fund was the “final piece in the puzzle”, revealing the vision set out in CSIRO’s Strategy 2020.

“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,” Dr Marshall remarked.

“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 led by veteran venture capitalist Bill Bartee, who has an impressive track record in the venture industry, assisting disruptive, innovative companies grow.

“To ensure the best ideas have the greatest impact, we will back the most ambitious entrepreneurs who want to build important, enduring companies,” Mr Bartee said.

“The Innovation Fund provides a fantastic opportunity to help ideas coming from accelerators and elsewhere realise their potential in the commercial market.”

The CSIRO Innovation Fund forms a key part of CSIRO’s Strategy 2020, along with ON, Australia’s national sci-tech accelerator.

Early-stage innovations supported by ON  include an ultra-low gluten Kebari barley for the food and beverage industry; a non-invasive diagnostic test that can detect the presence of endometrial cancer; and a natural animal feed additive called FutureFeed that reduces methane emissions from cattle.