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Getting a start on Australia's innovative business future.

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Media Release The Hon Ian Macfarlane MP Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources

13 May 2003 03/070


The Howard Government’s funding of current Australian research and development programs has been extended as work begins on a new set of innovation measures to continue the initiatives of Backing Australia’s Ability (BAA).

Federal Industry Minister, Ian Macfarlane, announced that the Commonwealth’s flagship R&D program for business will be extended to 2007 with an additional $41 million.

“The R&D Start Program provides grants and loans of approximately $180 million to some 200 innovative Australian companies each year. It is a highly sought-after program all about helping innovators over the hurdle from idea to commercialisation,” said Mr Macfarlane.

The additional $41 million in 2006-07 effectively guarantees that, next year, industry will be able to look forward to Federal Government funding for up to 3 years for a wide range of exciting R&D projects. In other words, the R&D Start Program will continue unhindered as work on a thorough evaluation of BAA escalates.

The Government will announce a new set of science and innovation measures, the successor to BAA, in 2004.

“Innovation is one of the three central planks to our industry policy. Through Backing Australia’s Ability the Howard Government made a five year pledge to promoting bright ideas and clever products. That commitment will continue beyond 2006,” said Mr Macfarlane.

“Innovation is one of the building blocks to our long term economic and

social prosperity,” he said.

The R&D Start Program has assisted more than 1000 innovative Australian companies to increase their R&D levels and the commercialisation of outcomes since 1996.

More than 90 per cent of grant recipients under this program are from the small and medium enterprise sector. The outcome of the first approval phase for this year was announced in April and awarded 29 companies a total of more than $26 million.

Projects included development of a genetically based epilepsy drug, solar cells that can be incorporated in a building’s walls to store energy, an underground tunnelling system for use in mines and a portable device which records bad driving habits.

Department Contact: Brad Page, Innovation Programs, 02 6213 7330

Media Contact: Kirsty Boazman, (02) 6277 7580, Mobile: 0412 171 444 Email: Web site:

CMR 03-085