Collaboration is one way your business can innovate. By joining forces with other businesses or researchers, you can bring new expertise and ideas to your business challenges.

Collaboration can include:

  • researching with a university or organisation
  • partnering with other companies
  • seeking access, licences, technology or knowledge from another organisation

1. Find out how collaboration can help your business


Working together with others can help your business to:

  • stay ahead of the competition   
  • turn your ideas into reality
  • access new insights and advice   
  • develop the skills of your employees
  • build a culture of innovation

If you want to gain a market advantage, collaborating with an expert from a university or the CSIRO can help. They can give you access to the latest research, technology and expertise.

Research shows a 4.5:1 return on investment in research innovation for your business.

2. Identify collaboration opportunities


There are many different opportunities where you can collaborate, including to:

  • identify innovative ideas and solutions
  • develop new products or services
  • solve real-world challenges faced by your business
  • access specialist skills or equipment
  • share and minimise the risk from research projects
  • provide product testing and verification

It is important to know that collaboration can take many forms and does not need to be complicated. Even connecting informally with an expert can have a positive impact for your business.

Research collaboration

Research collaboration is a popular way for businesses to be innovative. Researchers tend to be at the forefront of their fields, where they develop and create opportunities to commercialise new technology.

You can work with researchers in different ways through:

  • formal joint research and development projects, where you and the research organisation work together towards a common goal
  • PhD placements, where a student researcher can work on a project for your business
  • fee-for-service, or consultation, with a research organisation to provide you with expert knowledge, skills and know-how
  • licensing intellectual property (IP) from research organisations
  • attending workshops, events or training activities
  • informal chats with local university academics or lecturers

3. Find a collaboration partner


Once you have your ideas for collaboration, the next step is determining which partners will best suit your needs. Narrow down potential partners by understanding how a partner will contribute, and what your ideal outcome is.

Consider reaching out to:

  • organisations that you already have a relationship with
  • universities and government agencies
  • businesses in different fields
  • businesses at a different stage, such as a start-up or established
  • networks across industries

Don’t work with a business that is exactly like you. Collaborations with other businesses can help you to build capacity and find projects and innovations that you could adapt to your market.

Research partners

If you think that a research partner best suits your needs, you can get started finding a partner by:

  • an Innovation Connections facilitation to help connect your business to the right expert for your needs
  • searching for a researcher by field of knowledge, organisation or name on Data61+ Expert Connect
  • browsing patents by research organisations on Source IP to see what researchers are working on
  • checking out the Universities Australia Clever Collaborations report for a list of university contacts in every state and territory
  • exploring collaborative networks and opportunities in key sectors through the Industry Growth Centres Initiative

4. Get finance to support your collaboration


Collaborations require precious time and money just like any other area of your business.

You can fund collaborations with:

  • your own funds
  • government grants
  • venture capital and angel investors
  • crowd funding

5. Find a grant or program


There is a broad range of free services, grants and matched funding that can help you collaborate with an expert and bring your ideas to life.

Get advice

  • Innovation Connections – facilitates connections between your business and the research sector, and up to $50K matched funding to kick-start your collaboration.
  • Accelerating Commercialisation – expert advice and up to $1M matched funding to commercialise a novel product, process or service.
  • CSIRO SME Connect - provides assistance on all stages of the collaborative process and the opportunities available to your business.

Get funding

Place a researcher in your business

Search for government grants and assistance programs

Use our search tool to find grants, funding or assistance programs to help your business grow and succeed.

6. Manage Intellectual Property (IP)


Managing the IP in your collaborations with researchers can be complex. The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science and IP Australia have put together a toolkit to help you get started.

The toolkit includes:

  • a checklist covering key issues for you to consider
  • templates for a contract, confidentiality agreement and term sheet
  • general guidance and information to help manage your IP when collaborating

Take a look at how the IP Toolkit can help your next collaboration.