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  • Tim Kannegieter

New grants for MVPs just made your proof-of-concept much easier

Updated: Dec 12, 2023

A raft of new grant announcements has made it much easier to realise your proof-of-concept. Nationally, the Australian Government has launched its long anticipated Industry Growth Program, which is the replacement for the cancelled Accelerating Commercialisation program. The first stage of this program awards grants of between $50,000 and $250,000 for early-stage commercialisation projects, specifically for "development of proof-of-concept through to the production and testing of early prototypes". The product, process or service must be "new, unique or significantly different to any other previous product".

The NSW Government has also relaunched the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) Ventures Program which has been on hold since the last election. Starting from December 4, the program will offer up to $50,000 in matched funding for startups looking to release their first product.

What is most exciting is that these two programs is that they are non-competitive. That means startups only have to meet the eligibility criteria to gain access to the funding. As the Industry Growth Program is funded up to $392 million and the MVP Ventures program up to $3 million per annum on offer, a large number of startups will get a much-needed helping hand to get started.

In addition:

  • The NSW Smart Sensing Network has just announced the opening of its 2024 Grand Challenge Fund which is offering up to $100,000 in matched funding, with applications due by 19 February, 2024.

  • ANDHealth+ is opening to applications for its incubator program that provides non-dilutive support for digital health applications, including those with devices providing the data. An information session is scheduled for December 13, 2024.

  • CSIRO's Kick-Start program provides matched funding for up to $50,000 and is open to applications at any time for projects involving CSIRO's researchers.

These announcements are perfect timing, coinciding with the launch of Genesys Wireless Sensing platform, which is directly targeted at assisting companies to rapidly deliver a proof of concept or a MVP product for a reasonable budget (normally well within the maximum scope of this MVP grant).

Eligible companies for the MVP Ventures Program include those in industry priority areas such as medical devices, clean energy, waste, agri-food, aerospace and resources, as well as a broad swathe of digital technologies and advanced manufacturing. As long as your startup has an innovative technology in these kinds of fields, has less than 20 people and is earning less than $1 million per year, then you are in with a good chance. Examples of previous recipients of this program include a vitals sensing device for aged care and a pressure monitoring solution for concrete pouring.

The MVP Ventures Program is aimed at helping companies move their innovation along the Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) index, from the TRL 3 R&D stage through to having a product in the field, TRL 9. A key stage is TRL 6 which is a prototype demonstration. This is exactly what the Genesys Wireless Sensing platform is designed to do and our Rapid Proof of Concept services are certainly eligible expenditure under the program.

The NSSN Grand Challenge Fund is targeted at Aging, Clean Tech, Natural Hazards, Smart Places and Buildings, and Water. This fund is specifically aimed at commercialising smart sensing technology from one of the nine participating NSW universities in collaboration with an industry partner providing the matched funding.

We typically assist developers of novel sensors, and/or novel applications of standard sensors, develop a working prototype to demonstrate the viability of the technology or application. We do that either by developing a custom plug-on sensor board that hosts your novel bespoke sensor or we select from one of our off-the-shelf sensor boards if it's a common sensor type.

The next step is to develop the application's business logic on the platform's powerful but low-power nRF52 microcontroller and then create some custom graphical display pages for that data on the fully integrated companion mobile app.

Depending on the application we may need to create a custom enclosure to ensure your sensors have an appropriate interface to the objects it sensing. The enclosure can use one of our off-the-shelf options for attached the device to a person or an object, or we can develop a custom attachment as well. For a proof-of-concept or low-volume MVP, this is a high-quality 3D printed or CNC machined.

Enclosure examples

This process normally takes a number of months, depending on the level of customisation required, but well within the one-year time limit of this grant program. You are then ready to demonstrate your device to investors!

"The applications will be assessed in the order they are received

All you have to do is get your application in... early! The applications will be assessed in the order they are received and projects will be approved "taking into account the availability of funds" left in the program. There will be big demand, so to ensure you don't miss out prepare your Expression of Interest now and have it ready to submit as soon as possible after the program opens. Here is how Genesys can help:

  • Budget: The application will ask you for a budget. To add credibility to your application your budget should be professional, detailed and attributable to a firm quote from a reputable company like Genesys. To get your quote ready before the grant opens, contact us immediately for an MVP prototype development proposal.

  • Milestones: The application will ask for a project plan with defined milestones. These milestones should again be convincing and logical targets that convince assessors you understand how to do product development properly. The Genesys' proposal, developed in collaboration with you, will include milestones you can use.

  • Demonstrated capability: The grant requires the applicant to demonstrate it has "a project team with the capacity and appropriate management, commercial, professional, and technical expertise to deliver the project". With over 200+ product development projects successfully completed, including Genesys in your project team will enhance your chances of success.

  • Product visualisation: The application requires you to submit a pitch deck and/or a video. The more impressive these materials are, the more likely you are to get the grant. For a small fee, Genesys can work with you to develop a custom product visualisation and animation of the proposed prototype.

In addition to the above, Genesys can assist you in crafting your application. Together with our partners, we have been successful in applying for over $5 million worth of grants to date. In addition, our senior staff have sometimes sat on grant evaluation panels. We know how to write grants and can assist as much as you need on an hourly basis. Here are some key tips to get you started:

  • Balance the weight of your answers: The selection panel(s) will have a check sheet awarding a score to each question in the application, according to how well it was answered. A key mistake people make is not to evenly distribute their effort and word count according to the distribution of points for each question, which is usually defined in the grant guidelines. For example the NSSN Grand Challenge has 6 categories with weighting ranging from 30% to 10% - be sure to match your effort and content to these weightings.

  • Answer the question: People often don't properly read a question or misinterpret it, thus losing points for not answering the question. Often questions seem to be repetitive and there is a temptation to repeat yourself, even copy and pasting content from earlier in the application. However, careful analysis of these questions usually reveals a slightly different angle they are looking for. It’s somewhat of an art in how creative you can be in expressing your key points in multiple ways and how to align your most impressive nuggets of information to the right questions in the application.

  • Put in the work: For some reason, many applicants treat grant applications rather flippantly, leaving it to the last minute to scrape together information. In our experience, successful applications require many rounds of revision to get the wording just right. You should be consulting multiple stakeholders and advisors (including Genesys) to get their perspective and to fine tune / optimise the application. It's hard work but there are few easier ways to generate cash for your start-up.

We wish you the best of luck in your application. Please contact us if you wish to include the Genesys Wireless Wearable Sensor platform in your application.

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