Advantage SME, University of Wollongong’s “in-house Industry Matchmaker” is propelling the innovation ecosystem in South East NSW

An example of successful implementation of University- Industry match making. Advantage SME uses novel methods of fostering relationships such as the “Generator Lab” and “Collaboration Vouchers”.

Julia Frith
University of Wollongong

Zahra Shahbazian
University of Wollongong

Background and objectives of the case
Australia is strong in the production of research. However, when it comes to our efficiency in converting research dollars into innovation and commercial success, we perform poorly due to low levels of collaboration between industry and research institutions. Over the two years, the University of Wollongong (UOW) has been experimenting with a new way of engaging with the local Small-Medium Enterprise (SME) community – called “Advantage SME”. Advantage SME is the University of Wollongong’s in-house industry matchmaker. We help businesses and researchers find their ideal partners and build beneficial relationships. We run events and provide flexible funding for collaborative research.
The objectives of the project are to:
• Support the growth of Illawarra innovation ecosystem to local SMEs.
• Provide a simplified “one-stop” interface to UOW for SMEs seeking to engage with researchers, students, and other UOW services for industry
• Support the development of strong relationships between UOW and SMEs via outreach activities, access to UOW facilities and research expertise that will develop innovation capabilities in SMEs.
• Increase the usage of NSW Tech Vouchers program by regional SMEs with a dedicated $421K dollar matching funding available.
• Support innovative SMEs to access public funding resources to further develop their products and services in conjunction with UOW research and/or teaching capabilities. A dedicated $367K dollar matching funding is available. This will be referred to as ASME ‘Collaboration Vouchers’.