In its May 2014 budget, the Government announced that from 1 January 2015, Commercialisation Australia – a programme for start-ups and innovation commercialisation, which has so far supported over 500 companies with grants totalling more than A$200 million – will be discontinued, as will the Innovation Investment Fund, which has co-invested with the private sector in venture capital funds to grow early-stage companies.
An Entrepreneurs’ Infrastructure Programme (EIP) will be created in place of the discontinued programmes, which will receive A$484.2 million in funding over five years.
Details of the role and operation of the new programme were sparse, to say the least, in the budget papers. The only information provided was that:
- it will implement the Government’s ‘new approach to industry policy’;
- it will ‘focus on supporting the commercialisation of good ideas, job creation and lifting the capability of small business, the provision of market and industry information, and the facilitation of access to business management advice and skills from experienced private sector providers and researchers’; and
- it will ‘be delivered through a single agency model by the Department of Industry to achieve efficiencies and reduce red tape’.
Commercialisation Australia CEO Doron Ben-Meir has now been appointed to the role of Director of the EIP. This is good news. Ben-Meir will bring a degree of continuity to the EIP, including the benefit of Commercialisation Australia's experiences (good and bad) with the 500 grant recipients across multiple sectors, as well as more than 100 business mentors.