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$46.7 million R & D funding for innovative biological projects.

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Fifty-three companies in the biological sector received funding totalling $46.7 million for research and development and commercialisation projects under the Federal Government’s R&D Start Program in the 2000-01 financial year, the Minister for Industry, Science and Resources, Senator Nick Minchin, announced today. 8 August 2001

8 August 2001            01/358


Fifty-three companies in the biological sector received funding totalling $46.7 million for research and development and commercialisation projects under the Federal Government’s R&D Start Program in the 2000-01 financial year, the Minister for Industry, Science and Resources, Senator Nick Minchin, announced today.

In all industry sectors nationally, 249 projects received funding totalling $207.8 million  compared with almost $177 million for 219 projects the previous financial year.

‘In implementing its Innovation Statement, Backing Australia’s Ability, this Government has set out its innovation framework and vision for the next five years with additional funding of   $3 billion,” Senator Minchin said.

“One area recognised as a huge innovation opportunity for Australia is biotechnology,.  This view is reinforced by the excellent biotechnology applications being funded by the R&D Start program.”

Senator Minchin said the strong demand for R&D Start funding and the benefits that went with it, was confirmed last year by an independent evaluation into the effectiveness of the Program.

“The evaluation, by the Allen Consulting Group, found that 64 per cent of businesses which received funding for R&D projects increased sales as a direct or indirect result of involvement in the Start Program,” Senator Minchin said. “The average increase in domestic sales was 32 per cent while the average increase for export sales was 47 per cent.

“Of the firms surveyed, 83 per cent said that a new or improved product commercialised through Start funding, had a significant impact on the firm’s competitiveness. 

“These figures support the decision by the Government to provide an additional $534.9 million in total for the Start program announced in Backing Australia’s Ability. This initiative is part of a suite of measures designed to boost our nation’s innovation outcomes.

“The Government is constantly working at making assistance available to business and industry to undertake research and development and to produce new products, processes and services.

“The R&D Start Program has been streamlined and made more flexible to meet the diverse needs of Australia’s innovative firms.

“Because of the time-critical nature of projects we have reduced the period for a decision on funding, improved the payment system for the grants, and reduced the reporting and administrative obligations on companies.

Senator Minchin said the Government also recognised the needs of the many innovative companies operating in regional Australia.

“The Government’s business unit, AusIndustry, will expand its existing capital city network to encompass 14 regional areas.

“These are measures which have been welcomed by all the firms undertaking R&D, particularly the smaller companies where the majority of the support is concentrated.”

Senator Minchin said the breadth of the various projects funded in the last financial year across industry was cause to be optimistic about our nation’s innovative capability.

“We have funded a variety of dynamic R&D projects including one to develop the  technology for mapping potential acid sulphate soils, an immune system modulator for rheumatoid arthritis, the extraction of medicinal compounds from animal bile, abattoir waste processing, and saving an endangered species of freshwater cod.

“The biological sector is an important contributor to the national economy,” Senator Minchin said. “The success of these projects will lead to jobs growth and increase Australia’s competitiveness in the world marketplace.

“There needs to be even more businesses with projects such as these, commercialising their research efforts to help ensure Australia’s future economic success.”

Senator Minchin said the R&D Start Program complemented the Commonwealth’s other innovation support measures such as the R&D Tax Concession, the Innovation Investment Fund, Commercialising Emerging Technologies and the Biotechnology Innovation Fund, in offering companies assistance at different stages of the innovation process.

“With additional funding from Backing Australia’s Ability, total funding for the R&D Start Program is almost $1.7 billion over 10 years from 1996-97. Including company contributions, the $207.8 million provided by Government in 2000-01 contributes to more than $420 million in industry R&D and its commercialisation.”

Details of the evaluation of the R&D Start Program can be viewed at

Further information about R&D Start and other Commonwealth Government programs administered by its business unit AusIndustry, including a full list of the grant recipients for the financial year 2000-2001, can also be found on the AusIndustry website.

A summary of four of the projects is attached.

Contact:  Jennifer Eddy, Senator Minchin’s office, 02 6277 7580

Chris Butler, AusIndustry, 02 6213 7324, mobile 0411 130 677



Alchemia (Brisbane)—R&D Start grant $4.2 million

This project aims to speed up the company’s ability to synthesise new libraries of carbohydrate compounds for biological evaluation by developing procedures to automate the process. Automation is expected to save time and costs and increase the number of compounds that can produced while improving the safety of production.

Contact: Dr Michael West, (07) 3340 0230 * * * * *

Conve Ltd (West Perth)—R&D Start grant $718,550

The project aims to investigate the antifungicide activity of soluble copper silicate and other related formulations. The results of the research will be used to develop agricultural (horticultural) and home garden products based on these formulations. The company expects the resulting products will have significant competitive advantages over existing agricultural products, such as improved efficacy through providing systemic protection to plants, increased resistance to removal by rain or wind and provide more persistent antifungal activity due to its slow release attributes. In this regard, the products will provide significant cost and management benefits to growers since less frequent applications are required.

Contact: Dr John Dawson, (08) 9429 8812 * * * * *

Micromet Pty Ltd (Hahndorf, SA)—R&D Start grant $627,350 An irrigation control system is to be developed which will provide improved services to consumers such as local councils wishing to regulate watering of parks and gardens according to irrigation requirements. Consumers will have access to the control system via the Internet to review irrigation data, specify irrigation requirements, and pay service fees. Irrigation requirements will be calculated remotely at Micromet’s control centre using meteorological data which is relayed via the Internet and/or radio telemetry. An over-riding switching device located at the irrigation control site links the consumer’s existing electronic irrigation controller, eg timer switch, to the remote control centre to regulate irrigation more efficiently.  A key feature of the new irrigation control system will be its use of weather station data from a large region in conjunction with rain-radar data focused specifically on individual irrigation sites.

Contact: Dr Chris Laurie, (08) 8388 1425 * * * * *

ObjectiVision Pty Ltd (Sydney)—R&D Start grant $635,100 ObjectiVision is a medical technology company formed specifically to design, patent and market high-value vision-related products that contribute to the prevention of blindness and diseases of the eyes.

This project will build on the company’s soon to be released Multifocal Objective Perimeter (AccuMap) vision-measuring and testing device, which provides for the detection and monitoring of changes in the human vision field due to retinal deterioration. The company’s current version allows the objective measurement of changes in the human vision field. The new product, the AccuMap-Mark II, will take the technology to a higher level of accuracy, versatility and user friendliness.

Contact: Mr John Newton, (02) 9252 9833 Return to previous page