Innovation Practice

ON Prime is a part‐time pre‐Accelerator program that coaches researchers as they build evidence for real‐world applications for their work and discover multiple pathways to impact. In ON Prime each research team validates an idea through customer discovery and market validation.


Researchers have participated in the program


In funding has been raised by spin-out companies


Jobs have been created by companies established through the program

About the project

CSIRO, as Australia’s national science agency, was tasked with delivering a wide reaching science accelerator for the benefit of the Australian people; the ‘ON’ program. ON’s primary focus is to improve Australia’s innovation performance by helping all Federally funded research teams build their entrepreneurial competencies and collaborate more with industry and the broader innovation system. AI supported development of the Accelerate part of the program and our team members have delivered and facilitated the program across Australia for the past three years. Participants develop market insight, business acumen, networks and entrepreneurial capability, with long-term career benefits.

The problem

Critical gaps exist in Australia’s Innovation system. Australia is relatively strong in terms of collaborations between research institutions, but performs poorly in terms of collaboration between research and business/industry; only 3% of innovation-active SMEs collaborated with research institutions in 2014-15, the lowest rate among 29 OECD+ countries. There is also limited commercialisation and innovation capability and experience in our research community, with only 550 dedicated commercialisation staff supporting over 100,000 researchers. Finally, access to venture capital is limited, and both business and government expenditure on R&D are declining, making it harder for businesses and the research community to develop the innovations needed for Australia to remain competitive.

The solution

ON was designed to specifically address some of these critical gaps. The programs utilise several methodologies, including Lean Start-up, Human-Centred Design, Business Model Innovation, Visual and Information Design, and Leadership. The programs tailor these mindsets and frameworks into usable tools for researchers. Since launching ON, over 2000 researchers from 38 universities and four Australian Publicly Funded Research Agencies have participated in the programs. $45 million in funding has been raised by over 45 spin-out companies, and several technologies have been licensed. Additionally, over 150 jobs have been created by the companies established through the program.