Innovation Connect Grants

Innovation Connect commenced in 2008 and since that time has funded over 170 projects for over $4.5 million. Innovation Connect is an important funding facility in the local innovation ecosystem addressing market-failure at the early commercialisation stage.

Feedback from within the local innovation ecosystem has identified opportunity for Innovation Connect to get better value for tax-payer funds by better equipping entrepreneurs to manage risk at the pre commercialisation stage.

From 2017, Innovation Connect will include a ‘Renewables Stream’ funded from the Renewable Energy Innovation Fund. This is a dedicated funding stream designed to support commercial opportunities within the renewable energy and cleantech sectors.

Application requirements and processes for the Innovation Connect Proof of Technology and Renewables Streams are the same. Grant applicants will need to indicate with grant stream they are applying to when they lodge their initial application.

This is a competitive grant program. Your application will be assessed against the program criteria and will compete with other applications in the same round.


Is my business eligible?

To be eligible for an Innovation Connect grant your business must have:

  • an annual turnover of less than $2 million;
  • operations based in Canberra; and
  • an Australian Business Number (ABN).

Your business must also be prepared to enter into a formal agreement with the ACT Government.

WordSample formal agreement: Word 943 kB
PDFSample formal agreement: PDF 192 kB

What activities does Innovation Connect fund?

Innovation Connect Grants can provide support for projects that prove the technical or commercial feasibility of a concept or technology.

  • development of a product prototype
  • development of functional software
  • professional development of a formal marketing strategy
  • professional market testing
  • professional IP and patenting advice
  • legal advice

NB: If the applicant proposes that these activities are to be undertaken by the applicant themselves or their employees, the activities must be fully costed at reasonable hourly rates and where possible, quotes of similar work from professional suppliers must be provided in order to demonstrate that the value of the activities claimed presents best value for money for the applicant and Innovation Connect funding.

Renewable Stream

To be considered for the Renewables Stream, the project must consist of technology or processes that generates or enables the effective use of energy obtained from natural resources that can be constantly replenished. Projects may occur across engineering, ICT, finance and social science, knowledge sharing across these domains, and the co-design of solutions.

These can include but are not restricted to:

  • Energy generation science and engineering
  • Energy storage science and engineering
  • Energy generation asset management
  • Distributed energy grid and market integration
  • Solar and wind resource forecasting and mapping

What funding is available?

Grants range from $5,000 to $30,000 in matched funding.

An application may receive funding under either Proof of Technology or the Renewables stream, but not both.

A successful applicant may be awarded an amount other than the amount requested in the application. All Innovation Connect grants are awarded on a matched-funding basis. For example, an applicant awarded funding of $20,000 is required to also contribute $20,000 towards the project. The matched-funding component can comprise purchased goods and services, in-kind contributions (i.e. the value of the applicant’s work time) or both. Matched-funding contributions must occur during the funded project and not prior.

No more than $30,000 will be approved for funding to an applicant over a twelve month period.

Concurrent grants cannot be funded. The existing grant must be completed before another request for funding can be considered.

Market Ready Program

Successful applicant from either funding stream may also be offered training under the Market Ready Program, delivered by the CBR Innovation Network in partnership with Lighthouse Business Innovation Centre. The commercial value of this training is $5,000. The Innovation Connect Assessment Panel will recommend grantees that would benefit from the Market Ready Program. The ACT Government will meet the costs of participation in the Market Ready Program – it will not be drawn from the awarded grant funding.

Accommodation Support—Renewables Stream

Successful applicants under the Renewables Stream may also be offered free accommodation in the Renewables Innovation Hub for the duration of the funded activities under the grant.

Located in the heart of Canberra, the Renewables Innovation Hub is a highly flexible co-working space bringing together innovative start-ups and organisations across Australia and around the world to develop the ACT’s vibrant renewable energy and clean technology sectors. From 1-2 person start-ups to large multinationals, from wind, solar and storage companies through to investors, researchers and government, the Renewables Innovation Hub is the physical hub, the focal point for renewable energy innovation in the Territory and the birth-place of the next generation of renewable energy ideas and investment.

How to apply

The application process for Innovation Connect is:

  1. Submission of an Expression of Interest (EOI), incorporating a 90 second video pitch and Business Model Canvas.
  2. EOIs assessed by Innovation Connect Assessment Panel.
  3. Successful applicants from the EOI stage notified and provided with access to the online Formal Application form.
  4. Online submission of Formal Application.
  5. Face to face pitch with the Innovation Connect Assessment Panel.
  6. Successful grant recipients notified.

Before you apply, you should read the Innovation Connect FAQs and Guidelines for applicants, noting that the application process is different than under the Accelerating Innovation grant stream.

Access the online applications

FAQs and guidelines for applicants:

Please note these FAQs and guidelines are for reference and may be updated before the next round is announced.

WordInnovation Connect Guidelines 2017: Word 125 kB
PDFInnovation Connect Guidelines 2017: PDF 287kB

Current funding round dates for key steps in this process can be found under the Key dates section below.

Expression of Interest Stage

Expressions of Interest are submitted via a 90 second video pitch and your business model canvas that describes your solution and market. Any video capturing hardware or software can be used as long as the video follows the Entrepreneur Pitch Guide outlined below and is uploaded to your YouTube channel, and relevant URL provided in your EOI submission in SmartyGrants.

The Entrepreneur Pitch Guide will guide you through a series of shots that will capture information relating to the problem, solution, competitive advantage, customer and your business. Your submitted video pitch will then be assessed by the Innovation Connect Assessment Panel who will vote on all submissions and make a recommendation on which applications will move onto the second stage of the application process.

The process only requires you to produce a basic video pitch solely for Innovation Connect assessment purposes.  Only the content in the pitch will be assessed. The pitch will not be assessed on the quality of the video, your acting skills or the images in it.

If you have security concerns about the content of your videos, you can adjust privacy settings for individual videos on YouTube or alternatively your entire YouTube channel to 'Unlisted'. Please do not use 'Private' as we will be unable to access the content for assessment purposes.

If you want to get a copy of your video off YouTube, How do I download and save a YouTube video to my computer External Link - opens in new window describes the steps.

A Business Model Canvas is also required to be submitted to support your video pitch. The Business Model Canvas will provide the Innovation Connect Assessment Panel with more information to make informed decisions on the applications that will progress to the second stage of the application process.

Please note the Video Pitch Guide and Business Model Canvas Template are for reference and may be updated before the next round is announced.

WordInnovation Connect Video Pitch Guide: Word 112kB
PDFInnovation Connect Video Pitch Guide: PDF 58kB

WordBusiness Model Canvas Template: Word 36kB Please note that this document is intended to be completed in Word. If you have difficulty using the document, please contact business.mailbox@act.gov.au
PDFBusiness Model Canvas Template: PDF 98kB Please note that this document is intended to be completed in Word. If you have difficulty using the document, please contact business.mailbox@act.gov.au

Application Stage

If you are selected to progress following the EOI stage, you will be invited to submit a Formal Application Form and make a five minute pitch to the independent panel of experts (Innovation Connect Assessment Panel). The closing dates for formal applications and the date for your pitch to the Panel will be listed under the Key dates section below.

Innovation Connect Example Formal Application Form:

WordInnovation Connect Example Formal Application Form: Word 42kB
PDFInnovation Connect Example Formal Application Form: PDF 244kB

Please note the Application form provided here is an example only. If you are eligible to submit a Formal Application you will be required to complete the form online using SmartyGrants.

Key dates

EOI Applications Open: Monday 9 January 2017

EOI Applications Close: 3pm Monday 27 February 2017

Notify applicants of outcome of EOI process: Mid March 2017

Close of written applications: Late April 2017

Panel Pitch: Mid May 2017

Previous Innovation Connect Grant Recipients

WordInnovation Connect Grant Recipients (Updated August 2016) DOCX, 144.63 KB
PDFInnovation Connect Grant Recipients (Updated August 2016) PDF, 437.93 KB

Where can I get more information?

If you would like to discuss the Innovation Connect grant program please contact an Innovation Connect Client Manager:
Phone: 02 6205 1308 or 13 22 81

Email: cornelius.weber@act,gov.au or business.mailbox@act.gov.au