Our national SME Connect team connects Australian small to medium sized businesses with Australia's research sector, facilitating and enabling innovation-driven partnerships through funding, support and resources.

Australian small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are critical to Australia's economy, making up 99.7 per cent of businesses and employing 70 per cent of the workforce.

However dynamic global competition is changing the business landscape, putting increased pressure on Australian businesses to develop new ideas, new products and services and business models to maintain their competitive advantage. For SMEs this presents further challenges as they are often limited by access to the funding, facilities and expertise that is needed to assist their business in adapting for growth.

Introducing SME Connect

SME Connect is designed to help Australian SMEs overcome potential barriers to innovation through a series of dollar-matched funding and support programs that link those businesses with the expertise and facilities of Australia's best research organisations.

With experienced facilitators located across the country, SME Connect acts as a single point of contact for SMEs to interact with the Australian research sector, using their national network to locate the very best research capability to meet each SME's individual needs, whether that be CSIRO or other research organisation.

Our team works with SMEs to understand their business needs and identify research-opportunities, facilitates connections into the research sector and is on hand to manage the partnership from start to completion.

Since establishing in 2008, we've helped more than 400 Australian SMEs grow and gain a competitive advantage by accessing cutting edge research expertise and facilities through our programs.

How we can assist your business

Through the Australian Government's Innovation Connections program, CSIRO Kick-Start vouchers and the Science and Industry Endowment Fund’s STEM⁺ Business Fellowship program, we are able to offer three levels of matched-funding grants for research projects and researcher placements that cater to SME businesses of all sizes.

Table 1: Funding breakdown
Program CSIRO Kick-Start Innovation Connections STEM+ Business

Matched Funding

Up to $50k

2 grants, up to $100k in total (+ $30k graduate)

Up to $105k per annum (up to three years)

SME turnover

< $1.5 million

$1.5 – 100 million

$1 – 100 million

Project Length

< 1 year

2 – 12 months

2 – 3 years

Research organisations

CSIRO only

All public research organisations

All public research organisations

Our experienced team adopts a customer-first approach in which the needs of your business are paramount. We focus on streamlining the engagement process between SMEs and research organisations, and provide assistance at all stages of the collaboration process from start to finish.

We help SMEs by:

  • defining the business problem to be solved, and/or identifying the research opportunity
  • locating the right research capability to meet those needs
  • facilitating the project scoping and design
  • accessing and applying for grant funding
  • assisting with project agreements and contracting.

To find out more, contact our SME Connect team.

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