The answer is an emphatic yes. In fact, as global warming has become a major concern and the impact of the current drought on Australian farming production has reached crisis point, any irrigation development initiative with the potential to either improve irrigation efficiency, or minimise water usage or energy consumption and, of course, provided its benefit is supported by evidence, is eligible to receive financial support from the Federal Government.
Grants can be obtained via two Federal Government schemes and both come under the Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Resources. First, there is the Research and Development Start Program administered by the Industry Research & Development Board, and second there is Commercial Ready administered by Ausindustry (Australian Government Business Program Delivery Division).
Details of eligibility criteria and compliance requirements are available online in PDF format at the Australian Federal Government website. Information can be located via the site's general search engine, or directly from the list of programs on the Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Resources' main page.
In broad terms, the eligibility criteria restricts grants to organisations whose annual turnover does not exceed $50m and to be an eligible project, your project must aim to produce, commercialise or establish the commercial or technical viability of a new, clearly identified product, process or service, and must involve 'eligible activities'. Eligible activities are defined in the Program Guidelines as involving any or all of the following activities, provided they are carried out in Australia:
- research and development
- proof-of-concept activities, and/or
- early stage commercialisation.
Commercial Ready is looking for research and development activities comprising systematic investigation and experimentation involving either innovation, technology transfer into Australia or technical risk. Innovation is understood as the process by which ideas are transformed, through economic activity, into sustainable value-creating outcomes. It can generate change in output such as new products, processes or services, increased productivity or reduced costs. Innovation should have a degree of novelty, such as:
- seeking previously undiscovered phenomena, structures or relationships
- attempting to apply existing knowledge, technologies or techniques in a new way, or
- patentable results.
Activities can involve 'technical risk' if there is reasonable uncertainty about:
- the results
- which of several paths is technically feasible, or
- whether the outcome will meet a desired technical specification.
The foregoing is a mere confirmation that financial support is available for Research & Development in all industry sectors including the irrigation industry, be it at installation or commercialisation level. Find more information at: >> www.industry.gov.au