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New NSW Programme to Push Development of Bushfire-Resilient Tech

Under a new NSW Government program, NSW is working to push forward its place as a world leader in bushfire technology commercialisation and position itself for the international export of innovative bushfire solutions. The region’s Minister for Science, Innovation and Technology stated that the Bushfire Commercialisation Fund will help innovators translate their cutting-edge research into practical solutions that will improve bushfire detection, preparation and response.

Mr Henskens said that whether it’s artificial intelligence, drones or predictive mapping, the need is to commercialise disaster-resilient practical solutions, not just in NSW, but across Australia and around the world. By investing in local talent and their innovative research, the economy can be grown, jobs can be created and products can be developed that secure a brighter future for NSW.

A total of AU$ 16 million over three years has been allocated, with the first round of funding offering grants of between AU$ 200,000 and AU$ 8 million to individuals, companies, research institutions and universities, to help them commercialise their research.

The NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer said the program is the second initiative being rolled out under the Bushfire Response R&D Mission. He noted that the programme has been modelled on the highly successful Medical Devices Fund and Physical Sciences Fund, both of which have helped to scale businesses, attract investment from private capital and build the capability of NSW’s small-to-medium enterprises in key industry sectors.

About the Bushfire Response R&D Mission (BRM)

The NSW Bushfire Response R&D Mission (BRM) is the first NSW R&D mission recommended by the Turning ideas into jobs: Accelerating research & development in NSW Action Plan. The Action Plan recommended that the BRM focus on improving planning, preparations for and responses to bushfires – aligning with recommendation five of the recent NSW Bushfire Inquiry.

The NSW Government will direct $28 million into research and development and the promotion of new and emerging industries and technology to better prepare the state for future bushfires.

Based on the positive impact of the current innovation network and innovation programs, it is expected the BRM will generate roughly 200 new and sustainability technology jobs per year, equivalent to 2,000 jobs over the next decade.

The BRM has four objectives:

  • Supporting an ecosystem of bushfire technology companies, connected with NSW researchers. This will leverage the skills, expertise and networks in existing NSW innovation networks in Smart Sensing and Defence, providing seed funding for key projects to apply technologies to bushfire challenges and serve as the focus for attracting Commonwealth funding to NSW.
  • Establishing an early-stage Bushfire Commercialisation Fund (BCF) to enable Small to Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) to develop and commercialise products related to bushfire technologies. This will be developed in accordance with the successful models adopted for the Medical Devices Fund (MDF) and Physical Sciences Fund (PSF). These funds have been essential in scaling businesses to attract investment by private capital and helping to build SME capability in key industry sectors.
  • Supporting a Technology Delivery Process to enable both existing commercial and new technologies to be fielded and evaluated by frontline NSW bushfire services. This is essential both in understanding what will work, familiarising end-users with what is possible, and providing a key customer reference point for companies to build opportunities. This is the Bushfire Technology Pilots Program.
  • Supporting a Program of STEM Outreach and Engagement with communities, providing education and skills training for school children focused on technologies of immediate relevance to bushfire response, to inspire and enable a new generation of technologists.
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