Universities Australia welcomes the Government's commitment of $196 million for the CCI to enhance commercialisation of the best ideas developed by Australia's universities and public research organisations. Universities Australia broadly supports the proposed activities of the CCI as set out in the Discussion Paper released on 14 August 2009. We note the Government's intention for the CCI to provide a single commercialisation support service, with support tailored to the needs of individual applicants, and including funding for early stage commercialisation activities assessed against clear selection criteria. We consider that this offers the potential for an improved approach to developing research ideas through to the market.
Universities Australia is pleased to see that the intention is for the CCI to build on current innovation activities and work with existing service providers. This will be critical to the success of the program. There is significant potential overlap between the activities of the CCI and existing programs such as Enterprise Connect and Commercialising Emerging Technologies (COMET); programs conducted through other Government departments; and State and Territory Government initiatives. It will also be important for the CCI to support commercial venture capital arrangements, and to partner effectively with research organisation commercialisation offices and brokerage bodies such as the Australian Institute for Commercialisation.
From the Discussion Paper, it is not completely clear what the distinctive role of the CCI will be within this picture. Given its relatively limited funding of $82 million per annum on an ongoing basis (less than half the funding of the former Commercial Ready scheme) and the potentially wide spread of its responsibilities, the CCI will have to choose areas of value adding carefully. A key priority is industry and research organisations agreeing on appropriate selection criteria to enable targeting of financial assistance to the most promising commercialisation opportunities that have a demonstrated need for public assistance. In this way the role of the CCI will be clearer in terms of helping to address the Government's previous concerns regarding programs which were funded but which may have been commercially viable in the absence of public funding.