Submission on the Entrepreneurs’ Infrastructure Programme

Submission on the Entrepreneurs’ Infrastructure Programme

19th June, 2014

In line with the Australian Government’s vision to enable growth and productivity for globally competitive industries, the 2014-15 Budget established the $484.2 million Entrepreneurs’ Infrastructure Programme (EIP). The programme replaces Commercialisation Australia, Enterprise Connect, the Innovation Investment Fund and several other discontinued industry assistance programmes.

The EIP has three proposed streams: Business Management, Research Connections and Commercialising Ideas. It includes grants in each of these streams:

  • up to $20,000 (matched 1:1) to engage external expertise to implement projects recommended in a business evaluation
  • up to $50,000 (matched 1:1) over 3-12 months to bring short-term research capabilities into businesses
  • up to $250,000 (matched 1:1) over a period of up to 2 years to assist early-stage commercialisation activities.

A discussion paper provided details on all of the programme’s proposed services and sought feedback from stakeholders via submissions.

AAMRI’s submission of 19 June 2014 highlighted that:

  1. The medical research and biotech sectors face unique commercialisation barriers not experienced by other sectors, including the greater costs, risk profiles and time frames of human health-related innovations. We recommend incorporating the flexibility and scale of previous programs like Commercial Ready to address these unique barriers.
  2. The EIP Discussion Paper did not specifically indicate that research organisations were eligible for the programme, referring only to “entrepreneurs and innovative businesses”. The Discussion Paper also appears to imply that the principal role of research organisations is to be an outsourced research and development supplier to existing small to medium enterprises wishing to expand their businesses. This is not the case.
  3. In order to successfully help bring “discoveries successfully to market, quickly, and at competitive scale”, the Commercialising Ideas stream of the EIP will need to dovetail with funding provided by the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Australian Research Council. The EIP Discussion Paper did not address significant funding gaps for proof-of-concept research and early-stage protection of Intellectual Property, which are preventing potentially valuable Intellectual Property from making it out of the lab and into the market place.
  4. The EIP Discussion Paper did not include a replacement for the discontinued Innovation Investment Fund, which provided venture capital funding. A lack of access to venture capital is a critical issue for Australian innovation. There is an opportunity for the government to assist in attracting venture capital investments to Australia by supporting organisations (such as the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund and Uniseed) that aggregate ideas and ‘deal flow’ into large enough catchments to become noticeable to external venture capital. There is also potential for preferential tax treatments to support inventors and entrepreneurs of technology-driven start-up companies.
  5. To achieve the government’s vision for the Medical Research Future Fund to grow Australian medical research to underpin more effective and sustainable health care, any expansion in medical research capacity would require a parallel expansion in funding to see that research translated to the clinic.

Read AAMRI’s full submission here: