Eco Innovator November 2011

Government Grants

$30 Million for Illawarra Region

Innovative cleantech companies may be able to benefit from the Federal Government's plan to assist the Illawarra region in NSW by helping manufacturing firms create new products, processes and jobs.

The $30 million Illawarra Region Innovation and Investment Fund is in response to large job losses at BlueScope Steel.

"Through the Fund we will partner with local firms to create and secure new jobs and new technologies to ensure the Illawarra economy can prosper through this difficult time," said Innovation minister Senator Kim Carr.

"We know Illawarra firms are innovative and we encourage businesses investing in new clean technology to apply to the Fund, said the Member for Throsby, Stephen Jones.

The Fund targets firms providing engineering, construction and support services to heavy process manufacturing and the mining industry; manufacturing for the power, mining and transport sectors; engineered equipment for oil, gas and downstream industries; and firms involved in creative multimedia and software development.

The Member for Cunningham Sharon Bird exampled local company Partech Systems. "Firms like Partech Systems Pty Ltd, a local firm working in partnership with a researcher from the University of Wollongong, are developing and marketing a lowcost solar-powered rail level crossing control system. The Government is currently backing Partech with a $50,000 Enterprise Connect Researchers in Business grant," she said.

Partech Systems is developing a solar powered railway level crossing controller.

Before speaking at the Illawarra Manufacturing Expo, Senator Carr and Ms Bird turned the first sod at the site of the University of Wollongong's new Sustainable Buildings Research Centre.

"Located on the Innovation Campus, the Centre is part of the Retrofitting for Resilient and Sustainable Buildings (RRSB) project. This project will help transform our construction industry by discovering sustainable building practices and products and find ways to improve the energy efficiency of new and existing buildings," said Senator Carr.

"The Centre and the RRSB project are great news for the Illawarra region. The RRSB project, with the Centre as its main research facility, will create over 100 research jobs and open up to 100 undergraduate and 200 post-graduate positions, which will train students in sustainable construction technologies and practices," said Ms Bird.

The $30 million fund is jointly funded by the Australian Government ($20 million), the NSW Government ($5 million) and BlueScope Steel ($5 million) over three years to 30 June 2014. The fund will also be matched by at least $30 million in private sector investment.

The minimum grant under the Fund is $50,000, matched dollar-for-dollar by the successful applicant. There is no maximum funding limit. Funds will be available through up to three rounds. The first round opened on 18 October and closes on 16 December 2011.

The process has worked in other regions around the country. More than 2,500 jobs have been created through Innovation Funds in Adelaide and Geelong where major plants have closed.

In a related initiative, 50 local businesses in the Illawarra region will receive one-on-one coaching to help them identify opportunities for growth and the creation of new jobs through a $98,000 Enterprise Connect grant to Regional Development Australia (RDA) Illawarra.






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