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CSIRO revives its ON Accelerate program

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The CSIRO has revived its ON startup accelerator program, three years after its closure, as the government and universities ramp up their efforts to commercialize research.

ON was originally launched in 2015 as part of CSIRO’s Innovation Catalyst strategy, supported by former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s National Innovation and Science Agenda. But in late 2019, when funding dried up 8 months later, despite its success, CSIRO discontinued the program with 52 new companies being formed from the program, creating 226 new jobs, with more than $30.4 million in commercialization grants received and 13 of the companies raising $36 million in investment capital.

With a greater focus on commercializing research from the federal government and chief scientists, and universities launching their own venture capital funds to accelerate commercial activities, CSIRO has now revived the program for universities and government-funded research firms to participate.

The ON program supports Australian researchers from publicly funded research organizations to commercialize their ideas and has two streams.

ON Prime focuses on delivery to the customer, while ON Accelerate is a full-time structured innovation accelerator.

ON Accelerate is free and gives early stage startup teams the skills and support to validate and develop a high-potential innovative venture. The program focuses on business models, market validation, capital raising and storytelling.

It is designed for teams of 2-5 people and one must be a researcher with an Australian research organization.

A maximum of 20 teams will be selected from the online application process to participate in a two-day selection bootcamp before the top 10 are chosen to complete the 15-week program. Request for ON Accelerate closes on Friday, September 16.

CSIRO’s Chief Executive Dr. Larry Marshall said the program can help all Australian researchers bridge the gap between lab bench and industry.

“The unique combination of ON and dedicated access to the national scientific agency’s networks and resources helps scientists bridge the valley of death that separates research from business,” he said.

“It is rare for Australia to be at the forefront of innovation. However, compared to international programs, ON can boast an extremely strong track record in terms of money raised by company, founder diversity and system coverage.

Each year, approximately 100 teams will have the opportunity to participate in ON Prime for the next four years, moving high-potential enterprises to ON Accelerate.

The ON program is funded by the Australian government.

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