CSIRO’s Innovate to Grow program now open for SME applications

Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, is on the hunt for Food and Agribusiness SMEs looking to invest in R&D to grow their business. The next round of its free, SME-focused, online learning program – Innovate to Grow.

Innovate to Grow is designed for established small to medium sized businesses (SMEs) who want to investigate their R&D opportunities, or are in the early decision-making stages about engaging in R&D. This self-paced and engaging online learning program helps SMEs develop insights and strategies needed to leverage research and development (R&D) to meet specific business needs.

“Each round, Innovate to Grow brings together a nationwide cohort of SMEs, experienced, industry-specific researchers, and innovation experts,” Program manager Dr George Feast said

“The next round will focus on the Agrifood sector. “Participants will identify their technical and business challenges, explore what R&D opportunities exist to overcome those challenges, and develop business and funding plans to ascertain whether those opportunities are right to pursue further.” SMEs make up almost 98 per cent of all Australian businesses, produce one third of our total GDP, and employ 44 per cent of the workforce.

Last year’s Australian National Outlook report found more innovative industries were needed, that understood and committed to R&D, to drive growth and keep our economy resilient. That’s where Innovate to Grow comes in.

“It’s the perfect solution in the current time,” program participant and General Manager of Bellata Gold Milling Hamish Shaw said.

“Innovation can provide a path out of the current COVID-induced slump and reposition Australia as a smart nation into the future. “Nobody knows their product/markets and how to improve them like SME’s, they just don’t have the resources to develop them. “This course taps that knowledge rich base and links with the resources.”

As an online learning platform, Innovate to Grow can be accessed by participants anywhere. Almost two thirds of participants in the last round were from regional Australia. Participants are also free to work at their own pace, with manageable time commitments.

“The program is focused on helping SME’s develop relevant skills, using real business projects & funding opportunities,” Dr Feast said. “Participants finish the program with a suite of tools to enable ongoing R&D planning.

“Furthermore, regular online workshops and panels also give SMEs the chance to build their own networks with experts, advisors and peers in their industry.”

Applications for the next round of Innovate to Grow close on 16 October

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