Collaborate to Innovate Program

Building connections to create new, viable business offerings

The Collaborate to Innovate program is helping industry engage with universities

There is a lot to gain from industry and researchers working together to deliver a new frontier of innovation in equipment, technology and services.

Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) have the capability to develop transformational innovation in the energy and resources sectors, but are often apprehensive when it comes to taking the first steps in engaging with research institutions.

While a collaborative mindset can open doors to solutions and new markets, the current culture of industry can be prohibitive of collaboration, because this approach has not been valued in the past and goes against traditional businesses models. But to meet the new frontier of energy and resources demands, collaborative innovation is an imperative.

There is an exciting project underway, Collaborate to Innovate, that is designed to support SMEs in taking the first step in a collaborative relationship with a research institution.

The project, a collaboration between the NSW Energy and Resources Knowledge Hub, NIER, the Federal Government’s Entrepreneurs’ Programme (EP) and Austmine (as an Industry Partner to EP) aims to provide a supporting pathway for SMEs that are considering research collaboration.

The Collaborate to Innovate program provides:

  • Opportunities to showcase SME innovation in the Resources sector
  • Communication of the research collaboration opportunities and processes offered by NIER
  • Access to the facilities and of the Innovation Launchpad through the Knowledge Hub
  • Identification of SMEs eligible for, and interested in, engaging with NIER to undertake collaborative research
  • Development of specific capabilities within participating businesses to better equip them to undertake research collaboration with NIER, and commercialise innovative products and services.

This program targets SMEs keen to explore and develop their research and development (R&D) potential. Candidates in the following categories are encouraged to apply:

  • SMEs from any region in Australia, but willing for a representative to spend some time in Newcastle.
  • SMEs who have a technical problem to solve that may be solved through research (compatible with NIER research)
  • SMEs with innovative products or services who have not been able to successfully break into the market
  • SMEs who are interested in growing their business and reaching new markets, but don’t know where to start
  • SMEs who are research-curious and open to engaging with R&D.

The extended Collaborate to Innovate program includes a tailored gap analysis with a Business Advisor to produce a development plan with specific recommendations for moving forward. A 12 month development pathway will be mapped out and SMEs will get access to a business advisor and research support services through NIERs partnership programs.


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