Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Advanced manufacturing; food and agribusiness; medical technologies and pharmaceuticals; mining equipment, technology and services; and oil, gas and energy have been identified as the priority sectors.

The “ideas boom” announced by the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in 2015 is gaining momentum, with one example being an investment of $27.5 million ($36 million Australian) to encourage Australian companies and researchers to connect and collaborate with international partners on projects in the following five strategic growth sectors:

  1. advanced manufacturing (www.amgc.org.au);
  2. food and agribusiness (www.fial.com.au);
  3. medical technologies and pharmaceuticals (www.mtpconnect.org.au);
  4. mining equipment, technology and services (www.metsignited.org); and
  5. oil, gas and energy (www.nera.org.au).

Wisconsin organizations with expertise in any of these sectors are encouraged to connect with the relevant sector’s dedicated innovation hub regarding project eligibility, review the information on the available funding, and consider identifying and connecting with potential Australian partners as soon as possible.

Two grant programs will be of special interest to Wisconsin organizations. Each one offers financial grants to facilitate the exploration of ideas, capital seed funding and intense project development. (Note that the actual grant applications must be made by the lead Australian partner in any collaboration.)

To encourage early-stage project exploration, the Global Connections Fund offers priming grants of $7,000 Australian (over $5,000 USD) and bridging grants of up to $50,000 Australian ($38,000 USD) as seed funding capital. Applications for 2016 are now closed, but Wisconsin companies are encouraged to register their interest to receive updates for the next call for applications expected in early 2017. Encouragingly for Wisconsin companies, a review of successful priming grant applications for 2016 reveals that many U.S. researchers and U.S.-based small and midsize enterprises have already established successful partnerships in Australia and are actively involved in the program.

The Global Innovation Linkages program offers grants of up to $1 million Australian (over $750,000 USD) for exceptional projects across the five key growth sectors. To be eligible, Wisconsin organizations will have to partner with an eligible Australian research institution and an Australian business partner. While applications for 2016 close Oct. 20, the Australian Department of Innovation, Industry and Science advises that organizations interested in this program start planning for the next round of applications in 2018.