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This information bulletin provides information not covered specifically in the fund guidelines.
We will update this page as we receive new questions.
We held an information session to present an overview of the fund and application criteria.
[Opening visual of slide with text saying ‘Sustainability Victoria’, ‘Victoria State Government’, ‘Recycling Victoria Research and Development Fund – Organics’, ‘Information Session’, ‘Andrew Dougall’, ’10 June 2021’]
[The visuals during this webinar are of a PowerPoint presentation being played on screen, with the presenters appearing via video to the right of the screen]
Good morning everyone, and welcome to the webinar on the information session on the Recycling Victoria Research and Development Fund for Organics.
First of all, I’d like to acknowledge the traditional owners. I acknowledge the traditional owners of the lands upon which we are meeting today, the people of the Kulin nations, and pay my respects to their Elders past, present and emerging. I acknowledge that we live and work on the lands of the world’s oldest and most sustainable culture. I acknowledge the deep connection to earth of First Nation’s peoples, and their invaluable contributions to our understanding of climate change and the environment. I also pay my respects to the traditional custodians of the lands from which you are joining us today. I’m calling from the lands of the Boonwurrung, whose history goes back to when Port Phillip Bay was a large flat plain where they hunted kangaroos and cultivated yam daisy.
So welcome everybody to the webinar. We’ve now got 69 attendees. 72 actually, which is very good. We had 160 registrations. And for those of you who are not aware, we had quite a severe storm in Melbourne last night, and we have got a lot of internet problems. But I’m glad a lot of you could make it. My name is Andrew Dougall. I’m the Industry Development Lead for Organics with Sustainability Victoria, and together with my colleague Anna, we designed and delivered these grants.
I’d like to introduce my fellow presenters. Shannon Smyth, who is the Manager of Markets Acceleration with Sustainability Victoria. Shannon will be presenting an overview of the Recycling Victoria policy and the program that we work on, the Markets Acceleration Program. We also have Alisa Becker, Manager of Innovation and Engagement Services with CSIRO. Alisa is the Manager of CSIRO’s Innovation and Engagement Services team. She joined CSIRO in 2017 as part of the highly successful ON Innovation Program, and has seen thousands of researchers undertake their journey towards impact. Alisa will be making a presentation, Bridging the Gap Between Research and Impact, which will be quite interesting.
We also have Anna Calley, my colleague in SV. Anna is the team lead of the Market Development for Organics. Anna will be managing the Q&A box, the questions and answers, and triaging the questions and answers as well. We also have Alex Kavalam. Alex is in Business and Information Technology Services, and he’s in high demand today with our internet problems. And Alex will ensure all technical aspects of the webinar run smoothly.
I’ll be presenting an overview and cover off on some commonly asked questions about the fund. You can ask questions throughout the session via the Chat box function, which you can see in the right hand side at the top of your screen marked ‘Q&A’. These will be moderated by Anna, and you may receive a direct written response or we’ll respond to your questions at the end of the presentation. Any questions we can’t answer or don’t know the answer to, we’ll respond in writing and they’ll appear on the Bulletin of our R&D Program web page. And they can be emailed to Grants Enquiries, which is on the web page. Today’s session will be recorded, and the recording will be available on our website for those who couldn’t make it, and a transcript as well.
So with that, I’d like to hand over to Shannon to go through the Recycling Victoria Policy. I’m just catching up on my slides there. I forgot I had to advance the slides everybody. So there’s the agenda. I’ll just hand over to Shannon now. And Shannon, when you say ‘next slide’ I’ll do the next slide. Thank you.
Great. Thanks Andrew. And just to echo Andrew’s thoughts earlier, welcome everybody, and thank you for joining us for today’s discussion on the Organics R&D Fund from our Recycling Victoria program of work. Really pleased to see so many people engaged and interested in this really innovative program that we will hope not only has a lot of value for industry, but also for the soil that we aim to help support development of as well.
As Andrew mentioned, I’m Shannon Smyth. I’m Manager of the Markets Acceleration Program here at Sustainability Victoria, and have the pleasure of managing a couple of streams of work that aim to build markets, domestic markets for our recycled priority materials. I just thought I’d provide a bit of context and try and cite the program a little bit more, I guess clearly within the Recycling Victoria Policy itself. So for those that aren’t familiar with the policy, Recycling Victoria: a New Economy was released in June of last year, which feels like a long time ago. In fact, it probably was, minus the lockdowns. And the policy itself aims to transform Victoria’s recycling sector, whilst also reinvigorating and reimagining the way that we manage our commodities and materials within the economy as well.
It’s a $380 million investment, which brings the total investment from Victorian Government in the resource recovery sector up to some $515 million over the last five years, and aims to generate jobs and create a new economy that’s sort of I guess based on innovation, but also on getting the true value out of our recycled materials. The program and investment under RV will also drive investment and innovation in the way that waste is managed, to reduce waste, but also to reinvest in our recycling system to ensure that it’s able to provide the domestic service and capacity required.
The circular economy is based on the premise that we better make, use and recycle materials to reduce the amount that are being extracted and being disposed of at landfill as well. The program of work itself under Recycling Victoria is broad. We’re going to be talking primarily around one aspect of the policy today, largely in relation to market development, or creating and fostering development of new end markets for recycling materials. But the breadth of Recycling Victoria spreads far and wide. There’s over $100 million that’s been allocated to better enable the processing, collection, and storage in some cases of our recycled materials. So improving resource recovery infrastructure to ensure we get more value from that waste and we provide better opportunity for those commodities to be utilised in other applications. There’s a $10 million investment in waste to energy initiatives, and also additional funding that’s been allocated for treating hazardous waste as well.
There’s some targeted business support as well via our Circular Economy Business Innovation Centre, or CEBIC as it’s referred to, and also some additional funding available through business grants as well for those that are wanting to investigate the further sort of development or implementation of circular business models within their current practice.
More information can be found on the policy itself on the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning’s website as well, so I do encourage you to jump on board and have a look at that information as well. And also register via the SV website for further updates on grant programs and relevant sort of initiatives coming out of Recycling Victoria as well. There’s a lot, way too many for me to mention in today’s session, and I really want to allow plenty of time for questions around the program we’re here to discuss today, so I won’t go into detail on them today.
Of course also included within the program of work out of Recycling Victoria is our $30 million Recycling Markets Acceleration Program. This is really all about positioning Victoria as the leader in terms of utilising those recycled materials that come out of our recycling process. Next slide please Andrew.
The program itself is a program of work that will be delivered across the Environment portfolio. We’ll have EPA, DELWP and SV all leading separate parts of the program to ensure that we provide a platform that not only addresses market entry issues, but also any of those regulatory or policy related barriers that may be preventing the further use of recycled materials. SV are leading on the markets acceleration component of that program, which really aims to build demand for recycled materials right across the economy as well. The program itself will be delivered across a couple of streams. As you may be familiar, there’s a range of sort of I guess priority areas that we are needing to work on that align to a copy of policy related initiatives, or sort of I guess more national based policy position changes.
The key one within our program of work is the COAG export ban. So for those not familiar with that, it’s an agreement by all states and territories to cease the export of a range of priority waste materials, plastics, paper, cardboard, glass, tyres, to name a few. So our program of work has a focus on trying to identify and support development of new products for those materials to improve domestic capacity and capability, but also then to work with those entities – because we know there’s a lot of great innovation, a lot of great product development already occurring in Victoria – to sort of support those entities to become sort of larger operations that can provide a greater service and provide greater capacity to Victoria.
Within that program we also have a detailed market intelligence and horizon scan function as well. We know today’s priorities, but we also need to remain attuned and have our ear to the ground on those emerging priorities as well. We live in a time where there are sort of emerging issues, but also emerging opportunities, and we remain positioned to pivot, to quote the word of 2020, to sort of realise and support those opportunities as they arise as well.
We also have our Investment Facilitation Service, which really is around us brokering and supporting relationships with our resource recovery investors and sector leaders as well. This really aims to provide a pathway for new investment, also existing operators, to navigate both government sort of approval requirements, but also to provide guidance in relation to government investment and programs that may be available as well. There’s also the ability within that program to provide support, whether that be via the provision of data or intelligence, as well as small grants to help some businesses as well in terms of realising some of those opportunities that they’ve identified throughout their initial investigations as well. I do encourage you again to jump on the SV website and take on board a bit more detail around that service, because it’s certainly one that can provide a lot of value.
Finally, there is our organic stream, which really aims to address the policy sort of supply considerations under Recycling Victoria. There’s an ambitious target included within the policy to reduce the amount of organic waste that’s being sent to landfill, and in doing so, increase the service provision to all households across Victoria to have access to either a FOGO or a garden organic service over the course of the ten-year policy life as well. Our program aims to support that objective by providing suitable outlets and end markets for that product that will be collected and processed as a result of that policy objective, and we’ll do that via a couple of key sort of areas, one being the R&D program that we’re here to talk about today, which really aims to improve the performance of existing recycled compost products, to again support new and innovative applications, but also improve the value both in a monetary sense, but also in a quality sense for those products as well.
We’re also working with industry to help build capability, and we mean that both in a processing but also in a system sense as well, and we’ll be providing further support via future investment programs to really help industry increase their capability and capacity to manage that tonnage and improve the quality and variety of products that they can produce and supply to end markets.
And then obviously one really important part for us is to work on building and establishing, and perhaps diversifying those end markets for recycled organics across Victoria. We know there’s a great use and interest in the products already. We want to further build those markets and identify where there’s opportunity to supply those products into new markets as well. We’re at a really sort of interesting time in terms of some of the huge scale of development that’s happening across the state, and the sector, the civil construction sector in particular, as well as our agricultural sector, remain really big opportunities for us to investigate where these recycled organics can support and provide a really important role in terms of meeting some of the other ambitious targets that government have set in relation to creating end markets for our recycled materials as well. So we’ll be working to look at where those opportunities exist, and how we support adoption of those products within those new markets as well over the course of our program delivery.
That is a real high level quick pitch on Recycling Victoria and also our Markets Acceleration Program. I should flag there’s more information available on our website, and certainly encourage you to take a look and get in contact with myself or the team if you wanted more information on any of those other program areas covered today. But I’m going to hand back over to Andrew now, who’s going to take us through a bit more detail on the R&D program we’re here to talk about today. Thanks Andrew.
Thank you. Thank you, Shannon, for that overview. Very well done. And as Shannon mentioned, under the RV Policy we do aim to divert a lot more organics from landfill, and we know that these organics require markets, and that’s one of the reasons why we are introducing this R&D fund. So our purpose of the fund is to grow the recycled organics market size and value by supporting businesses and research organisations to research and develop innovative ways to improve processes, performance or systems for recycled organics. You’ll note, if you’ve read the guidelines, and as you see this information session, we’ve got a strong focus on commercialisation in this fund, and we’ll talk further about that later, and of course Alisa will talk about that as well.
So the fund details are we have a pool of $1.6 million available. Our grants will be capped at $300,000. There’s no lower limit on grants, which is unusual, but we do understand that some of the work that we expect might be quite cheap. You need to make a one-on-one contribution, and 100% of this contribution can be an in-kind contribution. As I said, there’s a strong emphasis on successful commercialisation of innovations, and projects must be completed within two years of signing the Funding Agreement. And the Funding Agreement is the contract.
So why existing products? And I put this slide in because I was expecting this question. We have an urgency to develop new markets. As more and more organics are diverted from landfill in Victoria, markets are needing to be developed to absorb this extra supply. Innovations on existing products can be commercialised more quickly. So to deal with the supply, we need more markets quickly, and innovations on existing products can be commercialised. Existing products need to be more profitable. The message I’ve heard from industry is that they don’t make a lot of money out of organics. So by enhancing existing products, we hope to make them more profitable. And of course, there’s other funding avenues available for new products. For example, there’s the new products to increase soil fertility funding program in the high performing soil CRC, there’s cooperative research centres projects, there’s the Federal Government Accelerating Commercial Grant Program, and various other funds, including the Recycling Victoria Innovation Fund that was mentioned under CEBIC.
Each application must be a partnership between an organisation that produces or uses recycled organics and a research organisation. Any of the partners can be lead partner. There can be more than two partners, two, three, four. The lead partner must be based in Victoria, have a current ABN, have been operating for a minimum of two years – and that’s two years from the signing of the – operating for two years when the Funding Agreement is signed – meet or exceed minimum co-contribution requirements, and agree to comply to the T’s and C’s of course. And we encourage applications from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations.
The grants will be assessed with what we refer to as a weighted merit criteria. So these are an example. There’s a what, who, why and how. Each one of those have a weighting, and there will be a range of questions in the application form that will be related to those, to the what, who, why and how. So the questions mentioned on this slide aren’t the only questions. It’s just an example of some of them that you’ll encounter when you log on through SmartyGrants.
Tips for writing your application. Incomplete or late applications cannot be accepted. Submit only when you’re certain that everything is done and complete. Include only necessary information and don’t duplicate information. When we’re assessing this program, we’ll have to review every single application, every document you send, so be clear and only include attachments where absolutely necessary. A good trick is to write clearly. We’re fine with dot points. And remember the CASH acronym. Be clear and consistent, accurate, succinct and honest.
If you are successful, you’ll have to submit a detailed project plan, deliver the project as outlined in the application and agreed on the project plan, we will have progress meetings throughout the duration of the two-year contract. Participate in activities, with SV to distribute the findings to the broader stakeholders, and develop a formal partnership with the lead applicant and other industry partners.
You’ll find more details of this in the funding conditions in the guidelines. For information on intellectual property issues, there’s a clause in the general Funding Agreement that you’ll see.
One thing you’ll encounter – and if you’ve done quite a few funding applications, grant applications, you’ll find this quite new – and this is the pathway to commercialisation flowchart. The purpose of this flowchart is to help you guys, the applicants, crystallise your thinking on commercialisation, and help us assess the applications. So this flowchart must be completed as part of your application. When you’re going through SmartyGrants, which is the system that you’ll be using to do your application, you’ll come across a link, and you’ll see there you download the template at that link, pathway and timeline template. And after you’ve completed the template, which is a fillable pdf form, you upload it again. You’ll save a separate copy on your desktop and upload it again.
Just shuffling with my notes here. I’ll just go back to something I overlooked, and that’s some commentary on the process, performance and systems. So the types of proposals we’re looking for should be aimed to improve the process, performance or systems of recycled organics. So for example, a process might be developing a superior or bespoke method for producing products, for example improving processing efficiency, matching recycled organic product to soil and plant needs, or developing cheaper on site solutions, things like that. Some things that might be related to improving recycled organics’ performance could be creating distinguishing features or improving the functionality of recycled organics, for example value adding recycled organics products, developing fit for purpose blends, or identifying the optimal timing to apply recycled organics to soil, things like that.
Improving product systems. Systems are complementary products and services which go with recycled organics, for example developing on site decision support tools, monetising the natural capital improvement resulting from recycled organics use, or developing specialised prototype farm machinery for applying compost. So when I mention those examples, it’s to help you get an idea of what we’re getting at. I’m not necessarily saying that proposals that do those things will be successful. It’s just to give you some examples.
Okay. With that, this is a good segue into Alisa’s presentation, because this is the pathway to commercialisation flowchart. Alisa’s here to talk about commercialisation, and I’ll pass on to her now.
Thanks Andrew. So if we just leap right into it, we’ve got the broad introduction. If we move to the next slide and I can just help introduce us by saying that you’ll know us better as the ON Program. We’re now known internally as Innovation Engagement Services, and we help Australia’s researchers and deep tech businesses translate economic, environmental and social challenges into positive impact.
So I just want to give you on the next slide a brief overview of some of the successes that we’ve seen over the last really five to six years now. It’s all adding up. Andrew, if you could just go to the next slide.
So we’ve seen 66 companies formed, more than 277 jobs, and that’s come out of more than 800 teams who have gone through a program of some type or another, and nearly 3,000 people. But the number I want to talk to you most about today is actually that one at the bottom in the middle, more than 26,300 customer interviews conducted by our participants. So that gives you the context of some tips that I’ll give you on how you can help achieve impact and maybe move some of the top line numbers. So if we just move to the next slide.
So one of the things that we know about developing companies and developing new products, is that innovations fail not because the product fails, or generally not at that stage, but due to a lack of customers. So that’s a really key issue, because if you go to the next slide Andrew, an idea doesn’t equal an innovation. So I’m sure everybody on this call has an idea, and many of you may even have an invention. If you could just click through the animation. One more click Andrew. So to go from an idea to an invention, you’re making it real. That’s really important. Researchers are excellent at doing that. A lot of technical people in businesses are excellent at doing that too. That’s fun. It’s the is it possible to make it? So once you’ve got your invention that’s not an innovation, you need to be able to unlock value to create an innovation. So unlocking value is unlocking value for a specific human being, which is really key. And when we’re talking about customers in this context, it’s actually not just customers that we’re thinking about. It’s end users or beneficiaries. It’s really the value flow of being able to create value for people who are going to use the product that you’ve been developing.
So don’t get me wrong. The making it real is really, really important, but I know most people have that covered. They often aren’t going to the next step until they’ve got that sorted. You can do them alongside each other though, and make sure that what you’re creating is actually going to be really useful in the hands of the people who need it. So just do two clicks on to the next slide.
So the biggest tip is really to build something that people wanted. So it seems so simple, and how do you do that? So how do you do that? I’m going to go back to the hint I dropped earlier on about having stakeholder conversations. So that is really the key way to make sure that people want what it is you’re creating, is by asking them. So if you just go to the next slide. So if you’re at the stage where you’re thinking about your business model canvas, it can be quite overwhelming at the start, and you’re developing up lots of things and thinking about how it might all play out. And if you just click Andrew to the animation. Especially at the start, a lot of it is guessing. You’re sort of trying to work out, based on things that you’ve read or things that you’ve heard, about how people might use and get value from what it is that you’re creating.
So if we go to the next slide. One of the things that we advocate is that until you have validated your guesses, it’s an assumption. And there are a lot of assumptions at the start, especially around unlocking value and understanding who it is that is going to use that and in what context they’re going to use that. So who is the customer? What is the problem? How well do you understand that problem? How big is the problem for them? Because that’s another key issue. You may have identified a problem, but unless it’s a big enough problem for them to want to act upon, it might not be enough to get it over the line. So how do we validate these assumptions? So if we go to the next slide.
So we want to validate those assumptions by creating hypotheses and testing them. So if you come up with the concept I believe some type of person is doing something while doing something, you’ve got to understand your customer extremely well so that you know that what you’re creating is something that they actually want. And as I said, it seems like such an easy thing to do, but in practice this is actually incredibly difficult. And of those hundreds and hundreds of teams that have come through our program and taken these principles on board and applied these principles to their technologies, we’ve seen practically all of them pivot because they haven’t quite got the understanding of which particular segment that they’re looking at to begin with, but may have then found a better one later on. So in testing your hypotheses, you want to make sure that you are failing fast and failing early. But that doesn’t mean that you’re failing overall, because you might identify a different customer segment that is actually more important and can take your idea further. So it’s really all about having conversations with people to understand how they might use what it is that you’re doing. So Andrew, if you can just skip on to the next slide.
So once you’ve created some hypotheses, we want to de-risk your assumptions about your stakeholders and the problems that they have through having conversations. So this is really the key. The key tip takeaway, if you want to understand how to commercialise your technology, then this is the one thing that you absolutely must do. If you can have conversations with as many people as you possibly can – and we would say you’re needing to get at least 60 to get a sense of where you’re sitting, and if you’re really serious about making businesses, you need to do this continuously – to make sure that the assumptions that you’re making about how people do things are absolutely rock solid, and that things don’t change. I think that one of the things that we’ve seen over the last year, and we’ve reflected upon a lot, is that actually the way people work and the way people access information and process things has changed a lot in the last year. So if someone had done some stakeholder conversations at the start of last year, it’s probably going to be a very different situation to the situation now. So you need to keep on top of how the market and environment is changing by having these conversations. So if I can just get you to take it to the next slide there Andrew.
So I’m going to give you some tips about how to have these conversations, because actually it’s not enough just to go ask someone ‘Do you want what it is that I’ve created,’ because most people will say ‘Oh yeah. That looks great’. We call it sort of the mum effect. People want to be nice to your face and move on to something more interesting at the start. So do be cautious that people will lie to you and lie to your face. So a really good example of this, if we just skip on to the next slide Andrew, is the gap between intentions and behaviour. So when you’re going out and talking to your potential stakeholders, rather than saying ‘Would you do this,’ it’s best to ask what they’ve done in the past.
So the best case I can illustrate this is asking whether people go to the gym. So you say ‘How many times do you want to be able to go to the gym,’ and people say ‘Yeah. I go three times a week. I really value healthy living’. You say ‘Okay. Well last week, how many times did you go?’ And then they say ‘Okay. Actually, I didn’t quite make it three times. Actually, I only went once’. So people’s intentions aren’t the same as their behaviour. So keep that in mind when you’re having conversations with your prospective customers, that they are trying to portray their best sense of themselves and aren’t necessarily doing everything that they’re saying. So we call this the say-do gap. And so the best way to talk to people about how they might use or how they might implement your idea into their processes is to ask them what they’re currently doing, what they’ve done in the past. If you’ve found someone who has mocked together, who has hacked a solution that’s similar to your problem, then you’ve found a really useful person there, because they have created something that you can then slot your product in. So that’s a really useful thing to try and identify how are people solving that problem currently, and not how would they solve it in the future. So we’ll just skip on to the next slide Andrew.
And so the other thing to think about is the types of people that you’re talking to. So not everybody is a potential customer. And customer is such a catchall term, that it is fairly meaningless unless you’re thinking about it in the literal sense of a customer in a retail store, because you’ll end up with users, influencers, recommenders, decision makers, economic buyers, and even saboteurs. And it’s useful to talk to every single type of person around your technology to identify how it can be implemented, because if you haven’t thought about the saboteur – and the saboteur is in your user’s ear or in your influencer’s ear – then even if you have the best technology in the world, it makes it really hard to implement it without thinking about how it is used in context.
So one of the examples that we like to think about this in terms of what does customer actually mean, is if you have say a teenage child who has an iPhone. So they’re the user of the iPhone, but they’re probably not the economic buyer. They’ve been influenced by friends and family. They probably weren’t the decision maker in deciding whether or not to actually get that piece of technology. And then there are a whole bunch of factors at play. So you have to think about this in terms of your technology as well. It’s rarely a simple process, and the better you can understand the complexity, then the easier it is for you to move forward.
So if I can just go to the next slide, because I think that illustrates that point really nicely, is that at the start there’s a lot of uncertainty, and you really want to be able to move towards focus. And there’s a lot of wiggling around, going backwards and forwards, and thinking about a lot of complicated interactions when you’re thinking about how your product is moving, and providing value for different people, and where it’s taking away value and where you are sitting in that life cycle so that you can truly understand how it is that it is being used. And then you can move towards focus. So this is a big job. There’s no doubt about it. But we do believe that the people that are creating the technology are best placed to understand how the technology will be used in the marketplace as well. And you will be able to, if you’re doing this early enough, understand how to incorporate the suggestions or ideas that you get along the way by having conversations with prospective customers or prospective partners, possible influencers along the way, to make sure that you’ve packaged it up in the most appropriate format so people are literally begging to get it out of your hands.
So you want to be able to get to that point where you’ve created something that is exactly what they need, because you know what it is that they need because you’ve asked them multiple times, and you’ve understood the environment that they’re working in, and that it can just simply slot in and they’re begging you for it. So that’s the ideal situation that I hope that you all get to, because we love to see new innovations.
So just click on to the next slide. So when we take teams through our programs and they go through this process, every pathway is different. So people get different outcomes from going through this process of customer discovery, is what we’re talking about here. So sometimes you’ll identify a new funding source as you go along the way. If you’re talking to people, sometimes you’ll find someone who is so keen to get your product that they’ll partner with you and provide you funding to help you develop that. You can establish new partnerships in different ways. Sometimes you might find a collaborator who you can benefit from and they can benefit from you. You get increased industry engagement. So obviously we’re focused on researchers, so it’s improving the clarity and the focus around what that research is actually doing. It will increase your confidence in communicating what it is you’re doing, because after you have a number of conversations, you’ll get better at describing value for that person. It’s really more about listening actually, listening to them about what their needs are and how they might use what it is that you’re doing to solve a problem.
So obviously one of the main outcomes, the key focus for commercialisation, is either licensing that IP to someone, and that could be one of those partners that you identified through these conversations, or creating a new venture entirely and moving that forward. So there’s lots of different pathways that you can take to achieve impact, and they’re all open to you. So if we just move to the next slide, I’m just going to give you a quick story about some of our alumni.
So as I said, we’ve had more than 60 companies created through the ON Program. Sorry. I just wanted to have a quick mention of – I’m just trying to see do I actually have them on here. No. I don’t have them. They’re Ynomia. So Ynomia are an excellent and interesting example of coming through this program. So they had a very, very well developed technology. It was ready for deployment. And coming through the ON Program and going through a customer discovery process, they changed their customer segment every time we met basically. So at the start it was – it was a tracking technology. They thought that it would be useful for hospitals to identify where they had potentially lost pieces of equipment. So they went and talked to hospitals, and there was a mismatch between the user and the buyer. So the nurses were like ‘Well yeah, I guess if I lose something then I just buy it again’. So that wasn’t their problem. And then going to the buyer, the buyer’s not concerned, as long as it fits within their budget.
So this tracking technology wasn’t going to be used in hospitals, so then they thought okay, maybe shopping centres are interested in using tracking technology to track people wandering around the centre. So they met with the shopping centres, and they ‘Yeah. Actually, that’s kind of interesting. Yeah. There’s probably some things we could do about that. But actually, our big problem is in people losing their car in the car park. That’s a bigger problem for us than just being able to track people around the shopping centre, because we’ve got people on the ground. We can see that’. So they went through a process of maybe it’s this, identifying your car in the car park. And then this was all the process through the program, and because they continued their conversations after they had finished, and really made this an ongoing effort, they actually identified months later a company who saw what they were doing and thought that it could be used in the construction industry. So they didn’t have any experience in the construction industry. The research had actually – they’re still in CSIRO. They’ve licensed that technology out to this start up company Ynomia, who have taken the technology and have created a start up around tracking pieces of equipment and materials across construction sites.
So you just don’t know where it’s going to take you unless you’re having those conversations and finding out really where the focus is.
So I think that’s wrapping up my section of the talk. I hope I’ve given you a couple of tips that might help you in accelerating your journey towards commercialisation, because I think that the problems you’re trying to solve are problems that we’d all love to see solutions to.
Thank you, Alisa. Alex, am I back on screen now? Yep. I think I am. That was a great presentation, and I think it really outlines the difficulties that are around for getting new innovations commercialised. I’ve just got a slide up here with the key dates. Just before we go to questions, I’ve just got the key dates, and these dates are on the website, and the guidelines as well. So yes, the applications have opened. Applications close on the 16th of July. Notification of outcome, it may not be exactly on the 1st of October, but we’re aiming to have you notified whether you’re successful or not in October. Funding Agreements. Again, it won’t be exactly the 8th of January. We hope to have them established around the 8th of January. And the projects will commence when you sign the Funding Agreement, and we hope to have all the Funding Agreements signed by the 31st of January. And then your projects must be completed two years from the commencement date.
Alright. I’ll now open it up for questions. So in the questions box, you can – Anna will be asking out the questions, but what you can do also is vote for them. If there’s a question that is particularly important to you, you can upvote it. So we’ll try to answer all the questions before 11 o’clock, but if we don’t we’ll answer the other ones via our website.
Over to you Anna.
Great. Thanks Andrew. We’ve got quite a long list of questions here. We’ve had a few people asking around what you mean by in-kind contributions. Are you able to clarify that?
Yep. Sure. So an in-kind contribution is a contribution you make that is not cash, other than cash. So in the guidelines, if you were to get a grant, we need you to make a dollar for dollar contribution, and all of that can be in-kind. So an example, you might ask for a grant of $50,000, and your in-kind contribution can be made up of your own labour. You can put a value of your own labour, some machinery or laboratory equipment you might have, and you can put commercial rates to the use of that machinery or laboratory equipment. So things like that that aren’t cash are in-kind contributions. If you need clarification on what in-kind contributions are eligible, there’s guidance in the guidelines, and also you can email our Grants Enquiries page.
Thanks Andrew. We’ve had a question from John that’s had quite a few likes.
Q: I understand that salaries are not funded. Would this rule out employing post-docs or research fellows in a university setting?
I actually can’t answer that. I’ll have to take that one on notice. I’m not familiar enough with the guidelines. So I will put the answer to that in our question and answer bulletin, which will appear on the website and will be emailed to everybody.
Sure. Another question from Anonymous here.
Q: What is the definition of existing product? Do you classify digestate organic food waste from aerobic digesters, biochar or dehydrated products – are they considered existing products?
Yes. Yes, they are. So something like an existing product would be if you were to get recycled organics and get digestate and make it into a cup. That would be a new product. Or if you were going to get garden waste and turn it into a dinner plate, that would be a new product. But digestate biochar are considered existing products. And it’s an arbitrary definition for the purposes of this grant.
Q: Is funding through this R&D fund available only for composting and compost products, or do you have other processes and technologies and other recycled organics products?
Yes. And that relates to the previous question. So obviously you don’t make compost with a pyrolysis unit, and you don’t make compost with an anaerobic digester, so those products are in scope and the equipment used to make them.
Q: Can you classify what close to commercialisation means from the guidelines, i.e. are there criteria milestones that must be reached to qualify?
No. The milestones are up to you. What we mean by commercialisation, is by the end of the two year funding period, we want the innovation or the technology ready to be commercialised so that that new technology can be used or sold on the market within the Recycling Victoria Policy timeline. So it’s hard for me to be more specific because of the range of things we’re looking to fund, but I’ll just reiterate again that we will look more favourably on proposals that have the innovation or the technology ready to be commercialised at the end of the two year period so it can be commercialised within the RV timeline.
Q: Is this grant only targeting the organic waste going to landfill? What about organic waste from farms, feedlots and fish farms?
That organic waste is technically in scope, however because of the need to find markets for organics diverted from landfill, we will be looking more favourably upon products that either are fully produced from organic waste diverted from landfill or partially produced from organic waste. So for example, it could be part recovered organics from landfill and part manures. But technically an all-manure product is in scope, however it won’t be looked upon as favourably as other products.
Q: Are sorting equipment or sheds for sorting areas available to claim via funding?
When you mean by sorting, I’ll just have to clarify that question. Is that decontamination? What is meant by sorting? I’d need a bit more clarification on that. So if you clarify that question in the box, we might be able to answer that later. But it sounds like a specific project related question too, which I wouldn’t like to answer in public.
Okay. I’m just scrolling through the questions to see if there’s any that we haven’t covered.
Got some new questions coming through.
Q: Is existing shelf life of food packaging within scope for these grants?
Yeah. I’d need a bit more detail on that. I don’t really understand that question I’m afraid. If you could ask it in more detail in the enquiries section, I’ll be able to answer it.
Q: Would research projects around proof of concept be in scope, e.g. demonstrating impact of applying recycled organics to farmland to improve crop productivity?
Yes. Proof of concept would be in scope, but bear in mind it’s unlikely that something that’s a proof of concept would be commercialised within a two year period. Proof of concept is something that’s quite early in the commercialisation timeline.
Here we go. A whole new list of questions coming through.
Q: Can the grant be used to assist with existing R&D work on processing garden organics?
There’s information on this in the guidelines. Shannon, can you comment on this one?
Anna, are you able just to re-read that question sorry? I’m getting a little patchy reception here.
I’ve just published it, so I’ve lost it in my list.
I’ll come back to that one Shannon, because I’ve published it, and I’ll just have to scroll through. But we’ll definitely answer that in the Bulletin.
Q: Is there a preference as to what target markets we’re after?
No. So there’s no preference. So any target markets.
We probably have time for one more question.
One more question? Great.
Q: Normally there’s a long time between R&D to commercialisation, e.g. greater than two years. How do you see this as a problem?
Well, it is a problem. A long time for commercialisation. And that’s why when we designed these R&D grants, we didn’t focus on new products, because it’s a very long time to commercialise a new product. And we focused on innovations that improve the process, performance and systems around existing products because of that long time period. So we are aware of that, and that’s why we designed the grant the way it is.
Great. I think that’s all the time we have for questions Andrew, but we’ve had a few people asking about whether the presentation will be online afterwards.
Yes, it will. We have everyone’s contact details who attended. We’ll notify you when the presentation comes online. And any questions we didn’t answer, and the ones we did as well, will appear in our Bulletin, and we’ll notify you when those questions appear in the Bulletin.
So I’d like to thank everyone for attending the seminar in somewhat difficult circumstances with internet problems and so forth. And I’d like to thank Anna, Alex, Alisa and Shannon for being part of the team to deliver this webinar. And good luck with your applications. I look forward to seeing them. Thank you.
[Closing visual of slide with text saying ‘Question?’, ‘Sustainability Victoria’]
[End of transcript]
This section will be updated regularly based on questions we receive.
Is funding only available for composting and composting products?
No. Funding is available for projects to develop innovations that improve the processes, performance and systems of existing recycled organics products. For the purposes of this fund, existing recycled organics products may include:
Are existing recycled organics products made from animal wastes, such as compost made from manures eligible?
Yes. However projects using organic wastes that are diverted from landfill will be more likely to be successful.
Are existing recycled organics products made from food waste eligible for funding?
Yes. An innovation that seeks to improve the systems that produce compost from food waste is eligible.
Are proof of concept research projects eligible? For example, demonstrating the impact of applying recycled organics to farmland to improve crop productivity.
Yes. However proof of concept work is typically at an early stage in a commercialisation timeline. But if you can make a case that your product will be commercialised by 2023/24 then you are still eligible.
Is there a preference for target markets? For example, are agricultural markets favoured?
No, we have no preference for agricultural markets or any other target market.
Are employee salaries eligible for funding?
The entire salary of an existing employee is not eligible for funding.
Staff costs directly related to the project can be included in the total project costs. Costs that are shown to be for new or additional staff, or for existing staff who are dedicated or specific to the project, could be eligible for the funding.
What is an ‘in-kind’ contribution?
An in-kind contribution is a contribution to the project budget other than cash.
You must match the requested grant amount (dollar for dollar). This includes in-kind contributions.
In-kind contributions can include the cost for activities that are directly related to delivering your project.
Examples of in-kind contribution:
Applicants must fairly justify how they determined the dollar value for in-kind contributions.
Can you define what 'close to commercialisation' means? For example, are there criteria or milestones that must be reached to qualify?
We need to deliver results within the Recycling Victoria Policy funding timeline.
The term ‘close to commercialisation’ means that the innovation is likely to be commercialised before the end 2023/24 financial year.
We expect a diverse range of innovative projects with different pathways to commercialisation so we cannot set critical criteria or milestones that would be applicable to all projects.
We understand that there can be a long time between research and development, and commercialisation. This is why we have focused the funding on existing products and innovations around the processes, performance and systems associated with these products. Generally, these innovations are more easily commercialised than other innovations, such as new products.