ON Program: Helping researchers build commercialisation skills

ON Program

Previous participants in the ON Program. Image credit: CSIRO.

Australian researchers will have the opportunity to build their entrepreneurial and commercialisation skills as the ON Program returns, delivered by the CSIRO. 

Applications are now open for teams from universities and publicly funded research agencies to participate in the program, where they will gain the skills and confidence to engage with business and take their ideas into the market. 

Since 2015, ON has helped more than 3,000 people from 52 Australian research organisations turn their science into real-world solutions. 

Returning in 2022, the program will build on this success, supported by new flexible modes of delivery, with ON Prime focused on customer delivery and ON Accelerate – a full-time structured innovation accelerator. 

CSIRO chief executive, Dr Larry Marshall, said that the program can help all Australian researchers bridge the gap between lab bench and business. 

“The unique combination of ON and special access to the national science agency’s networks and resources, helps scientists bridge the valley of death that separates research from business,” Marshall said. 

“It is rare that Australia leads in innovation. However, when compared to international programs, ON can be proud of an extremely strong track record when it comes to money raised per company, diversity of founders, and coverage of the system. It’s a sign that we’re creating our own unique Australian approach to innovation, and diversity is in its DNA from the start.” 

One of the many teams that have benefited from the ON Program are the researchers behind MGA Thermal, a company now delivering thermal energy storage solutions aimed at revolutionising the world’s renewable energy systems. 

MGA Thermal CEO, Erich Kisi, participated in ON Prime and ON Accelerate as a researcher with the University of Newcastle. He described the programs as incredibly beneficial in commercialising his team’s idea. 

“ON Prime gave us the confidence that we had a product the market wanted, and it helped us refine our problem-solution fit. Meanwhile ON Accelerate provided a feasibility decision gate for us and helped us be confident that we had the right business model in place,” Kisi said. 

“Going through the ON Program will very quickly help you work out if you have a feasible product and the appetite to commercialise it.” 

Around 100 teams each year for the next four years will have the opportunity to take part in ON Prime, with high potential ventures progressing to ON Accelerate. 

The ON Program is funded by the Australian government and will continue to be free for research teams. 

It is one of several recently expanded CSIRO programs supporting the commercialisation activities of Australia’s university sector, including the Industry PhD program and CSIRO’s Innovation Funds, Main Sequence. 

Applications for ON Prime close on Friday 26 August. Applications for ON Accelerate close on Friday 16 September.