For many years, the leap between development into commercialisation has seen multitudes of startups fail. Many organisations die or simply disappear due to lack of support.
At the recent AusIndustry-hosted consultative discussions seeking input into the proposed new changes for the R&D Credit program, this troublesome stage in the growth of an organisation was once again referred to as the unforgiving “Valley of Death”.
These discussions seemed to reveal that there are moves to pull R&D support away from pre-commercialisation activities and towards ‘pure’ R&D. This left everyone wondering what would fill the gap.
Government support has been notoriously absent from this ‘Valley of Death’, especially since the demise of Commercial Ready and its predecessors (BIF, R&D Start, etc.).
Currently, organisations must go it alone. This seems odd, since governments invest so much support into R&D. It seems a waste to step back and potentially lose all of its investment before a project has come to fruition.
This raises the question: Will the newly announced Commercialisation Australia (CA) help?
Firstly, let’s clear up some confusion. Commercialisation Australia is not going to pay for your marketing campaign, help you with advertising or fund you to break into your desired market. CA will help you up to the point that you are ready to go commercial. That is, it will help with pre-commercialisation.
Assistance will be provided to researchers, individuals and private enterprises to convert their ideas into successful commercial ventures. Think of this program as a combination of COMET, Commercial Ready, Commercial Ready Plus, BIF and the old R&D Concessional Loans.
Assistance will be at three main levels:
1. Skills and Knowledge
Successful applicants will gain access to specialised advice and services to build their skills, knowledge and linkages required to commercialise their new ideas. They will also be provided with a Case Manager to guide them through commercialisation and to facilitate access to experienced business mentors and other support.
2. Proof of Concept
Funding of up to $250,000 is available to assist with testing the technical and/or commercial viability of the business model or idea for a product, process or service.
3. Early Stage Commercialisation
Funding from $250,000 up to $2 million is available to undertake activities focusing on enabling a new product, process or service to be developed to the stage where it can be taken to market. The funding is repayable upon successful commercialisation of the project.
Further details are to come. We suggest that if you have a great product, idea or service that needs help to get over the ‘Valley of Death’ to commercialisation, get your applications in when the institute is officially launched in early 2010.
Adrian Spencer is a dedicated grants specialist and the Founder and CEO of GrantReady. He has accessed over $40 Million for organisations through State and Federal Government grants, rebates and concessions.