Business-research collaboration

Innovation is a key way for your business to grow, improve processes and performance, and add new products or services. One successful way to innovate is to collaborate with researchers from research organisations funded by the government, such as universities and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). They can bring in-depth expertise and new ideas to your business.

You can collaborate in different ways, including:

  • formal, joint research and development (R&D) projects where you and a university or research organisation work together towards a common goal
  • PhD placements, where a university researcher works with a business on an agreed research project
  • fee-for-service, or consult with a university or research organisation that provides you with their research knowledge, skills and know-how
  • licensing arrangements, where a university or research organisation allows you to use their intellectual property (IP), often to commercialise their technology
  • attending workshops, events or training activities
  • informal chats with your local university lecturers.

How research collaboration can help your business?

Working together with researchers can help you to:

  • diversify and grow your business
  • develop new products and services
  • share or minimise risks from research projects
  • get access to specialist skills
  • expand your networks
  • help you recruit skilled staff and take your pick of the best and brightest students
  • provide you with product testing and verification, to help you better market your products
  • support skills development of existing employees and build an innovation mindset
  • help undertake research and solve real-world business challenges
  • help students learn from businesses and improve their work readiness.

Learn how advanced manufacturing firm SuperCool collaborated with Griffith University and took on the issue of food wastage, with the help of a government grant from the Innovation Connections program.

Universities Australia released the Clever Collaboration report which showcases case studies of effective collaboration.

Guides and templates for collaboration

There are a number of guides to help businesses with research collaboration. Some examples are below:

  • Are you research ready? is a guide to successful industry-led collaboration, developed by the Oil, Gas and Energy Resources Growth Centre NERA (National Energy Resources Australia). It’s a great guide even if you’re not an energy resources company.
  • Check out the Australian IP Toolkit for Collaboration for information, guides and tools to help you manage intellectual property (IP) in collaborations.
  • The Australian Academy of Science’s Early-and mid-career researcher’s kick-starting collaboration page has a range of guides on how to develop a positive collaboration culture.

How to find a research partner

If you’re interested in innovating through business-research collaboration, the tools below can help you find your research partner:

  • Read about AusIndustry’s Innovation Connections grant program to help you find the best university or research institute to meet your needs.
  • Use the Data 61+ Expert Connect platform, where you can search by a field of knowledge, institution or name to find your expert.
  • Browse the Source IP tool by IP Australia to connect your business with Australian public sector research organisations.

You can look at the research by Australia’s public sector research organisations, and get in touch with the researchers you want to work with.

Intellectual Property Neural Open-Data Visualisation and Analysis IP NOVA is a search engine that helps you find registered patents, trade marks, and plant breeder's rights from IP Australia's database.  Find out which research organisations are patenting technology in specific fields to help you identify potential partners in your industry.

Many Australian and international universities are using the Easy Access IP scheme to offer free access to potentially valuable IP. A commercial partner licences the IP through a simple one-page contract at no cost under this scheme.

A list of contacts for every State and Territory in Australia can be found in the Clever Collaborations report.

Government grants to help you finance your collaboration

The Australian Government has a range of programs offering advice and financial support to businesses and researchers wanting to collaborate.

  • Innovation Connections (AusIndustry): provides small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with access to expert advice to address technology and knowledge gaps. Support includes up to $50,000 in matched funding and a facilitation service to help businesses find the best researcher to match their needs. Check out the Innovation Connections customer stories to see how businesses team up with researchers to achieve great results.
  • Cooperative Research Centres Program (CRC) (AusIndustry): The CRC and CRC-Projects Programs support group collaboration over various periods. Check out the CRC customers stories to read how CRCs deliver ground-breaking innovations for Australia.
  • R&D Tax Incentive (AusIndustry): provides a tax offset for some costs of doing eligible research and development activities by reducing your income tax liability.
  • SME Connect (CSIRO): helps Australian small and medium-sized businesses access the right expertise to be more competitive by connecting them with the research sector.
  • STEM+ Business (CSIRO): enables Australian small and medium-sized businesses to build on existing successful collaborations by placing early-career science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) researchers into businesses for two to three year research projects.
  • CSIROseven collaborates in a range of areas to find the next generation of innovation in a number of fields of the future.
  • CSIRO Kick-Start (CSIRO): offers innovative Australian start-ups and small businesses access to matched funding of $10,000 - $50,000 to undertake certain research activities with CSIRO.
  • Enterprise Solution Centre Programme (ESCP) (Food Innovation Australia Ltd - FIAL): connects food, beverage and agribusiness businesses with researchers and offers matched funding of up to $100,000 to solve technical challenges.
  • Australian Postgraduate Research (APR) Intern (AMSI): This PhD internship program allows businesses to attract talented PhDs through focused short-term research projects. It also enhances the postgraduate experience of students by giving them the opportunity to apply their research skills within an industry context. The program is available to PhDs in all study areas and business sectors. Internships typically take four to five months.
  • Linkage Projects (Australian Research Council): provides funding to support R&D collaboration projects, which acquire new knowledge and involve risk or innovation.
  • Industrial Transformation Research Program (Australian Research Council): offers funding schemes to enable research partnerships and a competitive edge for products, processes and services in the Growth Centre sectors.

State and territory support

Australian state and territory governments also provide collaboration assistance. Use the Grants & Assistance Search or check out your local state or territory government website to find out what’s available in your area.

Industry Growth Centres Initiative

The Industry Growth Centres Initiative also provides opportunities and assistance for collaborative industry-led projects:

Consider contacting the Growth Centre for your sector to discuss collaboration.

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