SMEs Unlock Critical Minerals Potential With a Free CSIRO R&D Support Program

Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, is inviting small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in the critical minerals industry to apply for a 10-week online program, which champions innovation accessibility for Australian businesses.

Applications for the 10-week program close on 14 April 2024. Image Credit: CSIRO

The free ‘Innovate to Grow’ program helps SMEs acquire valuable business insights and strategic plans to leverage research and development (R&D) to meet their business needs.

Lucy O’Connor, Manager of the Australian Critical Minerals Research and Development Hub, which is sponsoring this initiative, said SMEs play an integral role in driving innovation and enriching the diversity and resilience of critical minerals supply chains.

“Scaling up and commercialising critical minerals projects requires strategic collaboration to address technical challenges and drive sustainable growth and innovation in this sector,” Ms O’Connor said.

“This program is designed to help SMEs navigate the complex landscape of R&D within the critical minerals sector and build new collaborative projects with the support of technical experts.”

The ‘Innovate to Grow’ program is designed for companies embarking on early-stage R&D or those venturing into new ideas within the critical minerals sector.

Successful participants will be given access to expert facilitators and experienced researchers, who will help them examine their technical or business challenges, explore R&D opportunities, and develop actionable R&D business and funding plans.

“Participants will work through the self-paced materials and engage with researchers and industry experts, to advance their project idea and discuss collaboration opportunities with R&D leaders at CSIRO, other science agencies and universities,” Ms O’Connor said.

“Their professional networks will also receive a boost as they will connect with peers in their cohort, sector-specific mentors, and with CSIRO, ANSTO and Geoscience Australia, which combined have the largest mineral resources R&D capability in the world.”

API Management, which manages the Australian Premium Iron Joint Venture, went through the Innovate to Grow program in 2021.

Principal Scientist at API Management, Dr Alan Ooi, said the program provided the means to expand their knowledge of engaging with research organisations, prepare them for partnering with CSIRO - or other universities, and understand available funding options.

“The industry has big challenges, with lots of elements that need to come together, and CSIRO is playing a key part in our research and development goals,” Dr Ooi said.

“We would wholeheartedly recommend the Innovate to Grow program to other companies in the industry, especially to help them gain  direction for their business opportunities.”

The program is sponsored by the Australian Critical Minerals Research and Development Hub, a collaboration between CSIRO, Geoscience Australia and ANSTO.


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