NSW Government challenges business innovators to solve problems

Business NSW Central Coast Regional Director, Paula Martin

Business NSW Central Coast has welcomed a new initiative launched by the State Government for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) which will receive $24M in funding over its first two years.

The establishment of the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program was the first Priority Action recommended in the Turning Ideas into Jobs – Accelerating Research & Development in NSW Action Plan, launched by Premier Gladys Berejiklian on January 25.

“The Action Plan stressed the increasing need to be proactive in supporting and attracting new businesses, especially in future industries that will sustain economic growth, productivity and employment,” Berejiklian said.

The SBIR program will provide competitive grants for SMEs to find and commercialise innovative solutions to NSW Government agencies for five well-defined problems.

These include assisting vision-impaired customers navigate the public transport network, increasing the resilience of regional and remote communications networks, quantifying the number and extent of koalas in NSW, reducing contamination in wastewater and reducing PPE waste in the health system.

NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte, said research and development was the key to delivering problem solving solutions.

“Like the Medical Devices Fund and Physical Sciences Fund, the SBIR program is an excellent example of the NSW Government’s commitment to leverage the capacity of SMEs’ NSW-based R&D to address the state’s most pressing problems and provide solutions which deliver a social, environmental, health or economic benefit,” Durrant-Whyte said.

Business NSW Central Coast Regional Director, Paula Martin, said having reliable infrastructure to support communities during disaster is a welcome problem to be solved as part of the program.

“For a region the size and breadth of the Central Coast, we know exactly what it is like to lose connectivity during floods and fire with over 10 per cent of business reporting lost connectivity during this year’s March floods,” Martin said.

“Providing reliable connectivity so that emergency services organisations can better respond to disaster offers new and emerging small businesses a chance to be part of the solution.

“Our knowledge industry, especially in the information and technology area, is still the fastest growing business segment on the Central Coast and is forecast to continue growing.

“The Central Coast business community is well placed to meet the challenge of improved connectivity as well as helping to reduce contamination in wastewater and PPE waste in the health sector.

“We already have great examples of innovation with businesses like BioAction, who reduce odour in wastewater, and Healthe Care, who have reduced PPE waste in their private hospitals.”

Terry Collins

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