Australia’s innovations will grow into successful businesses with help from the CSIRO Innovation Fund, a $200 million fund to commercialise early stage innovations from CSIRO, universities and other publicly-funded research bodies.
The CSIRO Innovation Fund, launched today, 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.
The fund, established as part of the Australian Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda, 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.
CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall said the Innovation Fund was the “final piece in the puzzle”, revealing the vision set out in the organisation’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 said.
“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 CSIRO Innovation Fund will be managed by an experienced team led by veteran venture capitalist Bill Bartee, who was appointed following an extensive recruitment process.
Mr Bartee has an impressive track record in the venture industry, assisting disruptive, innovative companies grow. Additional management team members are currently being recruited and will join Mr Bartee in the first quarter of 2017.
“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, along with ON, Australia’s national sci-tech accelerator, are key initiatives under CSIRO’s Strategy 2020.
Early-stage innovations supported by ON include a non-invasive diagnostic test that can detect the presence of endometrial cancer; ultra-low gluten Kebari barley for the food and beverage industry; and a natural animal feed additive called FutureFeed that reduces methane emissions from cattle.