Access funding to accelerate the commercialisation of COVID-19 research solutions to market

The Innovation Districts Challenges are designed to accelerate the commercialisation of research products that address the impacts of COVID-19 by businesses in partnership with universities and CSIRO in NSW.

Challenge themes align with the NSW Government ‘Respond, Recover and Reform’ approach to COVID-19.

Who is this for

Small to medium sized enterprises that have a product or service that directly addresses the impact of COVID-19 (see eligibility criteria).

What are the funding opportunities

The total funding pool available for each Challenge round is $500,000.

  • Highest ranked applicant $250,000
  • Second-highest ranked applicant $100,000
  • Third-highest ranked applicant $30,000
  • Highest ranked applicant in each Innovation District that is not one of the statewide overall recipients will be granted $10,000, as determined by the evaluation panel.

Challenge Three: Entrepreneurship is now open

NSW Government calls for R&D solutions that strengthen the entrepreneurship capability of the State for a post-COVID-19 economy.

Proposed projects might:

  • Be scalable and research-based technology products or services
  • Help sectors pivot to high growth technology solutions
  • Strengthen Australia’s sovereign capability and local supply chains
  • Implement a sustainable and novel solution to an area in need of reform, such as aged care, food security
  • Address the workforce gap created by international closures (students, reduced migration)
  • Champion Indigenous entrepreneurs.

Questions and further information


Each of the 12 innovation district partners are leading challenge activities in their respective innovation districts.

Businesses that are associated with Western Sydney University or the Launch Pad either through a research relationship or physical location, and that have a high potential research product or service that addresses one of the Challenge Statements, are invited to submit their Expression of Interest. Each innovation district partner will refer the most promising businesses for an initial eligibility check and then work with high-potential candidates to develop applications. 

Please read the business eligibility requirements to confirm you are eligible to participate in this Innovation Challenge prior to submitting an EOI.


The innovation district partners will conduct an independent process to identify the top three applications to be nominated to progress to Stage 2. Nominated businesses will complete the Stage 2 Application form and provide the supporting material outlined below directly to NSW Treasury:

  • Completed Stage Two Application Form
  • Pitch deck including budget and commercialisation plan
  • Video presentation up to two minutes
  • Declaration of conflicts of interest and description of any ethical or regulatory requirements to deliver the product or solution to a marketable state in NSW.

For more information on the application process, please visit the NSW Treasury website

NSW businesses seeking to accelerate research products or services to market that address the many disruptions caused by COVID-19 are invited to apply for challenge funds. Examples of such products and services can include but are not limited to: solutions that support remote business operations, working from home, remote communications, medical/health aspects e.g. telehealth, automation, sensoring/monitoring, IoT, cyber security solutions, resilience/mental health etc.

Businesses will need to refer to the eligibility criteria before submitting an application.


Exclusions – The following will not be considered eligible for funding:

  • solutions that do not directly respond to the Challenge Statements
  • solutions designed to improve internal business processes
  • a Commonwealth, state or local government agency or body including government business enterprises

Details on the assessment process can be found on the NSW Treasury website

Western Sydney University
Inu Rana
Tel: 02 9678 7200


Key dates

Key Dates

Innovation District Challenge #3

Thursday 2nd September, 5pm

Stage One – EOI submissions close

Friday 3rd September, 4pm

Stage One – Submit supplementary information form supplied to the Innovation District Partner

Monday 6th September, 5pm

Stage One – Submissions close for Eligibility Check – via SmartyGrants portal

Thursday 9th September

Stage Two – Shortlisted applicants invited to submit a Stage 2 Application

Thursday 9th September

Stage Two – Applications open for Stage 2 submissions via NSW Treasury supplied link

Thursday 30th September, 4pm

Stage Two – Closing date for Stage 2 Submission. 
Information that will be required includes: 

  • completed Stage Two Application Form
  • budget
  • commercialisation plan, and
  • video presentation up to two minutes

Business innovation challenge sparks new collaboration

Western Sydney University partners with CSIRO and Macquarie University to deliver the IDC

Western Sydney University is partnering with Macquarie University and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to deliver the 3 challenges. This is the first time the three organisations have worked collaboratively to deliver a State Government program to businesses. By doing so, they bring together an innovation arc that stretches across Sydney, from the Northern Beaches, North Shore and North-Western Sydney to Parramatta, Penrith, Camden, Campbelltown and Liverpool. After considering submissions across the combined districts, nine outstanding businesses will compete in the first challenge round with a state-wide pool of 36, each hoping for a share in the $500,000 funding allocation.

Read our joint media release. 

Past Innovation District Challenge Winners

Challenge Two: Economic Resilience

Grant recipients

  • $250,000 to Adiona with CSIRO for a simulation engine for logistics including rapid vaccine distribution planning and delivery
  • $100,000 to Arludo with University of NSW for teaching STEM using a library of apps that enable students to collate science data with peers and collaborate in real time
  • $30,000 to Kleu with University of Wollongong for a business tool for large-scale customer support workforces
  • $10,000 to local winners: Bundlfresh, Good360 Australia, Medulla, PeepsRide, Pairtree Intelligence, Young Henrys Brewing Company, Steber International, Maxiem, New England Cheese, Studymove, HRDS Technologies, and Tribal Warrior Aboriginal Corporation.

Applications from businesses across the State were assessed by two groups of experts from Investment NSW, Office of the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer, and Department of Customer Service.

Challenge One: Health & Wellbeing

Read about the winners of challenge one

Grant recipients

  • $250,000 to DetectED-X lung scan artificial intelligence diagnosis and education platform
  • $100,000 to VBreathe anti-viral air filtration personal device
  • $30,000 to EcoAid BioTech biodegradable, anti-viral coating and spray
  • $10,000 to local winners: COVIU Global, Birth Beat, All Metal Products, Criticalarc, Colan Products, YourLink, Energisim, Pen CS, Moove & Groove, Halo Medical Devices, We Are Explorers, The Ripper Group.

Applications from businesses across the State were assessed by two groups of experts from NSW Health, the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer, NSW Treasury, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).