Traps for new players

The CRC-Ps are proving extremely popular and the fourth funding round will close 29 August. In the first three rounds, a number of funding offers made by the Minister have not gone through to become a project. That’s very disappointing because it means millions of dollars of government support is delayed and not out there helping organisations to innovate.

The CRC Association’s understanding is that the main issues are: (1) IP has not been agreed upon before applying. IP arrangements should not be left until an offer has been made (2),  the private company (companies) not actually having the resources to match the Commonwealth’s offer. These are issues that should be sorted out prior to bidding for a CRC-P. Managers of the CRC Programme will no doubt be on the hunt for clues that these issues are clear in their due diligence for the CRC Advisory Committee.

For the coming round, the guidelines won’t change. So applicants should ensure they have the issues agreed prior to applying. The programme is ongoing, so if that means delaying an application for a few months to get it right, do it. IP discussions don’t get easier when a Commonwealth funding offer is on the table.

It seems like some companies may be relying on the CRC-P offer in order to raise private sector capital. Unfortunately, the Commonwealth’s offer is time limited whereas private capital raising almost always takes longer than anticipated. This is a high-risk strategy. The CRC-Ps may be very suitable for young companies but it is not a programme specifically designed for start-up support.

Collaboration takes time. Make sure you allow sufficient time for a quality bid. Ensure you have spoken to the right people in each of the collaborating organisations – the commercialisation office of a university might have a different view on the value of some IP than an individual researcher, just as the Board of a company might be more conservative in the resources they are willing to commit than a line manager.