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Budget gives startups a $392 million fund to commercialize ideas, plus $101 million for quantum and AI

The 2023 federal budget has earmarked $392 million to the Industry Growth Program for advice and grants for startups and small businesses to help them commercialize their ideas.

The announcement by federal treasurer Jim Chalmers in the 2023 budget on Tuesday night is part of that more than $500 million in financing that Secretary of Science and Industry Ed Husic says he is willing to lay the foundations for future economic growth in the sectors.

Twelve months after winning the election, it seems the budget announcement is for the treasurer to dress up the mutton from the former government’s Accelerating Commercialization grant as a Labor lamb. That program closed today.

It’s also worth remembering that after a damning audit report into the former Morrison government’s Entrepreneurs Programme, which included Accelerating Commercialisation, the previous Chalmers budget took out $198 million in October last year, leaving money in the “uncommitted” bucket remained. Seven months later, the treasurer seems to have found a commitment.

Tonight’s announcement was light on details, but the old AC grant program offered matching funding of up to $1 million to bring ideas to market, in addition to grants of up to $500,000 to commercialize research. Budget document No. 2 states that “support will be targeted at companies active in the priority areas of the National Reconstruction Fund“, the government’s $15 billion investment program for manufacturing, which focuses on renewables, fintech, AI, robotics and quantum technology.

Husic said the Accelerating Commercialization program will support innovators with investment and advice “so they can make the leap from brilliant idea to business plan to growing enterprise” and expand the pipeline of investment-ready projects for the National Reconstruction Fund.

“This end-to-end approach will maximize taxpayer return on investment and provide a clear path for our entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into thriving businesses in Australia rather than abroad,” he said.

All told, there is $431.9 million over 4 years from 2023-24 – and $79.2 million per year ongoing – to support SMEs and start-ups. Thereafter, the Industry Growth Program has ongoing funding of $68.2 million per year.

Then there is also $39.6 million over 4 years from next fiscal year ($11 million current year) to continue the Single Business Service, which supports SME engagement across all levels of government.

The Industry Growth Program was welcomed by the president of medtech and biotech innovation firm MTPConnect, Jaala Pulford, who said it would “boost the commercialization trajectory” for medical science startups and SMEs.

“In a challenging budgetary environment, it is a welcome commitment to the potential of the MTP (medtech, biotech and pharmaceutical) sector to create new, high-paying jobs and economic growth through the development and commercialization of new drugs and medical devices,” she said. said.

“The Industry Growth Program has the potential to work closely with the National Reconstruction Fund and provide integrated support throughout a company’s commercial lifecycle.”

AI and quantum for business

There is also good news for the quantum and artificial intelligence (AI) sectors with an additional $101 million over the next five years for companies to integrate quantum and AI technologies into their operations.

All told, $116 million is on the table to support the development of critical technologies.

That includes a Critical Technologies Challenge Program, which will support projects using them to solve key national challenges, and will begin with a focus on projects using quantum computing – expanding the National AI Center and its role in supporting responsible AI -use by developing governance and industrial capabilities -establishment of an Australian center for quantum growth to support the growth and commercialization of ecosystems in the Australian quantum industry -support the adoption of AI technologies by SMEs to improve business processes and enhance trade competitiveness

There is also $14.8 million over 4 years from 2023-24 to establish the Powering Australia Industry Growth Centre, an election pledge, to support local renewable energy technology production, as part of the government’s Australian Made Battery Plan .

This measure will be fully offset by refocusing funding from the industry, science and resources portfolio.

“This funding will work alongside Australia’s first national quantum strategy, which the government announced last week, and the government’s $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund,” Husic said.

$2 billion for hydrogen

Chalmers and the government are also betting big on hydrogen as part of the country’s energy shift, with a $2 billion hydrogen lead program.

“Hydrogen power means Wollongong, Gladstone and Whyalla can make and export everything from renewable energy to green steel,” said Chalmers in his budget speech, adding that the government’s renewable energy commitments now stand at $40 billion.

“Seizing this kind of industrial and economic opportunity will be the biggest driver and determinant of our future prosperity,” he said.

Hydrogen Headstart will provide revenue support for large-scale sustainable hydrogen projects through competitive hydrogen production contracts. The funding is intended to help bridge the commercial gap for early projects, with the hope that it will deliver a gigawatt of electrolyser capacity by 2030 through 2 to 3 flagship projects.


Shreya has been with australiabusinessblog.com for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider australiabusinessblog.com, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

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