CSIRO targets startups for AI commercialisation program

CSIRO’s National AI Centre, Google Cloud, and Stone and Chalk are launching ‘Australia’s AI Sprint’, an AI challenge for entrepreneurs. The program provides resources, tools, and guidance to refine AI concepts for national issues.

The winning participant will be chosen based on the commercial viability of their ideas and will earn $300,000 in research and development (R&D) funding. Second and third place will receive $100,000, respectively.

The CSIRO’s SME Connect Team will connect the winners with an Australian research institution based on the type of AI technology being developed, the level of support required, and the team’s location.

During stage one, participating startups and entrepreneurs will be expected to create demo-ready prototypes. Google Cloud will offer live and on-demand AI training, professional mentorship, technical advisory help, and cloud platform credits.

After stage one, a judging panel will decide which competitors will go to stage two and a subsequent demo day, where they will exhibit their prototypes to stakeholders. Participants will receive additional assistance and resources as they prepare for the demo day.

Stage one is set to begin on April 3, while stage two begins on May 13. Prospective participants may apply here.

“The initiative provides startups and entrepreneurs with the end-to-end support needed to refine their innovations, gain visibility, and bring their AI solutions to market. This is the springboard opportunity to transform AI concepts into real-world impact,” the CSIRO’s National AI Centre director Stela Solar said.

According to a CSIRO AI ecosystem analysis released in December, there are already 544 companies “making and selling AI products and services” headquartered in Australia, with 204 established in the last five years. However, it points out that Australia lags behind worldwide competitors in terms of commercialisation.

Last week, following the announcement of a new 12-person Artificial Intelligence Expert Group tasked with developing mandatory artificial intelligence safeguards, Industry and Science Minister Ed Husic stated that he was “very open to people’s input and advice” on providing additional government support for the development of sovereign AI capabilities.

This contrasts with comments made earlier this month in a Productivity Commission report. The federal government think tank stated that Australia is not well positioned to develop its advanced artificial intelligence models and questions the productivity benefits of “activist government sponsorship” throughout the AI value chain.

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Stuart Reynolds is the founder of Fullstack Advisory, an award-winning accounting firm for businesses leading the future. He is a 3rd generation accountant who specialises in tech & online companies.

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