The Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC) has encouraged applications for IMCRC activate, a funding initiative to help Australian SMEs recover from COVID-19.
This will be achieved through shorter-term, agile research and development collaborations, with matched cash funding between $50,000 and $150,000 available per project.
Launched in 2020, IMCRC activate supports highly targeted, cost effective and innovative R&D projects in collaboration with IMCRC partner universities and the CSIRO. This allows SMEs to identify and solve key challenges in their businesses through the uptake of emerging technologies and new business models.
IMCRC has invested $2 million in more than 15 innovative manufacturing and Industry 4.0 related activate projects spanning multiple industry sectors. These sectors include medical products, building and construction, clean energy and minerals.
Current activate project participants include Biomedbank, Alcolizer, 3D Dental, GTET, HYDAC, SPEE3D and FormFlow. One of the first IMCRC activate approved projects, led by technology company Alcolizer and the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), has developed a medical device called Virulizer.
Virulizer will be used at the point of risk as a qualitative detection of the Nucleocapsid and Spike protein antigen to SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) from saliva swabs. The device produces results in under 10 minutes and its Levels of Detection (LOD) values outperform all rapid antigen tests currently available.
The project has provided Alcolizer with a functional prototype, a strong position to receive additional funding though the government’s Commercialisation Fund. This provides a clear pathway for commercialisation, strengthening the company’s existing investment in non-invasive nanoparticle detection.
Based on the successful research collaboration, the business expects to generate a substantial increase in revenue over the next two years. Multiple high value jobs will also be created, including for several UTS researchers relocated to Perth to join Alcolizer’s growing business.
“IMCRC’s activate program has been fundamental to the early-stage funding of the COVID-19 test,” Alcolizer general manager Roger Hunt said.
“Being easy to access, with a turnaround time from application to project commencement in under a month, the program has significantly helped us to accelerate our research efforts at a critical point in time. It also has allowed us to engage multiple STEM staff for the first time in the company’s history.
“This additional depth and knowledge will not only assist us with COVID-related projects but also integrate into our existing R&D work in the core business of producing drug and alcohol testing products that are used in law enforcement and industry,” he said.
IMCRC chief operating officer Dr Jason Coonan congratulated all project participants on their work to date and looks forward to working with the next round of participants.
“COVID-19 continues to impact the manufacturing industry in Australia, especially SMEs,” Coonan said.
“Kickstarting collaborative manufacturing research projects and helping them become commercially successful is critical to rebuilding the Australian manufacturing industry.
“We are delighted IMCRC activate has already been able to help manufacturing businesses across the country, such as Alcolizer, accelerate their innovation journeys through development and application of new technologies and business models,” he said.
“We’re calling on ambitious Australian manufacturing SMEs with strong, commercially viable ideas to apply for IMCRC activate while funding remains – which won’t be for much longer.”
IMCRC activate is an initiative designed to help Australian manufacturers act and gain a competitive edge in a post COVID-19 world.
To be eligible for IMCRC activate funding, projects must:
- Be industry-led, deliver clear manufacturing outcomes and be completed within six to 12 months.
- Be undertaken by one of IMCRC’s partner research organisations.
- Apply Industry 4.0 technologies and digital business models.
- Ideally move through two Manufacturing Readiness Levels (MRLs)
- Ideally involve other Australian manufacturing SMEs as collaborators
- Address sustainability and/or national needs where possible.
IMCRC activate is currently open for applications and more information on the funding initiative is available at https://www.imcrc.org/activate/.