The Australian government recently announced $10 million in funding for proof-of-concept research projects through the new Economic Accelerator (AEA) Seed Grants program. The program aims to help bring promising research discoveries closer to commercialization.
The AEA Seed Grants provide critical funding for early-stage research and development. The grants support proof-of-concept work to demonstrate the viability of a technology or innovation before private investors or larger government programs provide more substantial funding. Researchers can apply for funding to test an idea, establish its benefits, evaluate technical feasibility, and determine commercial potential.
Two rounds of funding in 2023 for Australia’s Economic Accelerator Seed Grants
In the first round, Australian universities and research institutions can apply for grants between $50,000 to $500,000 to fund pilot projects lasting 3 to 12 months in four priority areas:
- Renewables and Low Emissions Technologies: This includes areas such as hydrogen technology, microgrids, lithium processing, and more.
- Medical Sciences: Priorities include synthetic biology, mRNA vaccines, remote medicine, and other fields.
- Value-Add in Resources: This focuses on provenance of rare earth minerals, advanced resource extraction, data mining, automation, and robotics.
- Value-Add in Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries: Priorities include provenance of agricultural products, digital agriculture, supply chain innovation, and alternative proteins.
The first funding round opens February 6 and closes March 17, 2023. The second round opens March 27 and closes May 5, 2023.
The eligibility criteria for the AEA Seed grant program are quite specific and must be met in order for an application to be considered. Only listed institutions in the Higher Education Support Act 2003 (HESA) are eligible to apply for this grant.
The Lead Entrepreneur (LE) must also commit a minimum of 0.5 FTE to the project over its term, and may nominate any Collaborating Entrepreneurs and/or Partner Entrepreneurs to participate in the project. It is also mandatory for applicants to make in-kind contributions towards the grant activities, and proposals must identify and cost at least two phases of work if seeking more than $200,000 in funding.
Partner Organisation’s must meet certain eligibility requirements and provide evidence of new or ongoing collaboration directly with the Lead Organisation and/or Collaborating Organisation’s. These Partner Organisations must participate in the project for the grant period and provide a letter of support in the proposal that outlines their relevant experience and expertise, as well as their roles and responsibilities in the project. Finally, all named participants in a proposal must satisfy the eligibility criteria for their specific role and take responsibility for the authorship and intellectual content of the application.
Who can apply?
To be eligible, applicants must be employed by or affiliated with an Australian university or research institution. Universities and research institutions are encouraged to partner with other research organizations and private industry. Collaboration across disciplines and sectors is viewed favourably.
The grant selection process
The grant selection process involves assessing proposals against eligibility criteria and selection criteria. Proposals that meet the eligibility criteria are assessed based on how well they meet the selection criteria, how they compare to other proposals, and whether they provide value for money. External Expert Advisors may be asked to inform the assessment process. The Program Delegate approves grants based on recommendations from the AEA Executive Director and Expert Advisors and the availability of grant funds. The Lead Organisation must provide a project management plan before the imposition of any conditions on the grant, including key performance indicators and milestones.
A program to drive economic growth
The AEA Seed Grants program is a pilot for the Australian Government’s $1.6 billion Economic Accelerator program, which will provide funding opportunities for research commercialization over 10 years starting in 2023. This new initiative demonstrates Australia’s strong support for investing in science and technology to drive economic growth. The government aims to turn more promising research into new technologies, industries, and jobs.
For a complete set of guidelines, follow this link: Program Guidelines