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CSIRO Rolls Out New Collaboration Tool for Businesses

A new tool to help Australian businesses connect with the research sector has been launched recently by CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency. The Collaboration Readiness Levels (CRL) tool helps small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs) determine the best way for them to engage and collaborate with publicly funded research organisations.

The CSIRO SME Connect Deputy Director stated that the team’s research found when SMEs collaborate with universities or research organisations in Australia, they have higher levels of innovation, are better able to deal with uncertainty and are more profitable. He noted that this novel tool is backed by research which was developed using outcomes from interviews with SMEs and related data analysis in collaboration with partners at the University of Queensland, Queensland University of Technology and RMIT University.

The tool has been created in response to recommendations in the Enablers and Barriers to Industry R&D Collaboration report, where 800 SMEs said a device like this was needed to help them successfully navigate research and development opportunities.

CSIRO anticipates that the wide use of the Collaboration Readiness Levels tool will help Australian SMEs find well-suited partners and programs. The new tool helps businesses understand their readiness level to engage with R&D and links each level with suggested steps to progress activities beneficial to the company.

The five levels of readiness are:

  1. Considering
  2. Networking
  3. Cooperating
  4. Engaging
  5. Partnering

The Associate Dean (Research) Faculty of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Queensland stated that while aimed at SMEs who are looking for guidance, the CRL tool can also be used by funding agents, business development workers and research organisation staff who have a role in commercialising science for economic impact.

The CRL tool provides information to participants on the types of collaborative activity with publicly funded research organisations that most suits their business and enables facilitators and researchers to manage the expectations of SMEs.

The Collaboration Readiness Levels are also complementary to NASA’s Technology Readiness Levels and can support a holistic view of approaching new collaborative research and development projects.

The Managing Director of one of the firms that used the tool commenced participation in CSIRO’s Innovate to Grow which supports SMEs who want to progress their R&D opportunities, or are in the early decision-making stages about engaging in R&D.

She recently used the CRL tool and said that R&D is sometimes a slow and risky experience, adding that it is important as a leader to keep the team motivated despite hiccups and set an incremental pace. She liked that the CRL results informed the company’s development of a draft R&D implementation schedule and I’m looking to now establish conversations with collaboration partners.

The Collaboration Readiness Levels (CRL) were developed using the insights gathered from CSIRO’s research partners at RMIT, the University of Queensland and the Queensland University of Technology.

By working through the tool to determine a ‘collaboration readiness level’ and receiving recommendations, businesses will be more informed about their capacity to effectively collaborate and will be given contacts to relevant programs and facilitators.

Having a level helps users with an understanding of their business maturity, culture and expectations. This allows business leaders to embark on a conversation with a facilitator, technology officer, researcher or grants officer to accelerate outcomes and project delivery. It also shares what opportunities and key activities can be undertaken at their level and the one above.

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