Innovation Connections is helping Australian businesses meet the research partner of their dreams.

Australians have a near-infinite capacity for invention. Fast WiFi, plastic banknotes, and Aerogard are some of our own better-known creations. But did you know Aussies more broadly can claim to developing utes, solar hot water, and even wine casks? 

As a nation, we’re seriously good at coming up with new technologies. But something we’re not so good at is turning these potentially life-changing innovations into commercially viable products and export-ready companies. 

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), while we’re near the top of the field in research excellence, we lag when it comes to collaboration between industry and researchers. And the science and technology that stems from these collaborations is what fuels economic growth and prosperity, so this is a bit of a problem.  

Luckily, there’s a solution: a research and development matchmaking service with a difference. 

Introducing Innovation Connections 

Innovation Connections is part of the Entrepreneurs’ Programme, an initiative of the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources.  

The service helps to make Australian business more competitive and productive, while also attracting investors and commercialising products. Innovation Connections works with the research sector to innovate and solve problems. And, in the process, it helps to create jobs, build profits, and increase exports and resilience for Australia. 

Through Innovation Connections our facilitators work with eligible businesses to understand their research needs and opportunities. Essentially, we don our cupid wings. Tasked with matching the business with the best scientists, engineers or technologies from across Australia’s research sector. But that’s not all. We also help out with recommendations on the next steps to take. 

Through the service, eligible businesses can gain access to dollar matched funding of up to $50,000 to fast-track their research and development.

Innovation Connections has a national presence, with even a dedicated facilitator for Northern Australia. To date Innovation Connections’ projects have involved 68 separate Australian research organisations. Over the past five years, we’ve helped to facilitate more than 900 Innovation Connection projects across Australia. That’s a whole lot of matchmaking!

Image showing the Smartstream app and staff working as part of the Innovation Connections program.
We helped Smartstream remain globally competitive by developing an interactive training app.

Keeping customers ‘appy 

Innovation Connections was able to help Australian company Smartstream develop new markets, increase its competitiveness, and create jobs. 

Smartstream promotes and distributes the Qlicksmart line of scalpel blade removal products. They wanted to develop an interactive training and educational program to help keep healthcare professionals safe from sharps injuries. 

With the support of our facilitators and a graduate placement grant, Smartstream had a QUT graduate develop an interactive training app for virtual sharps safety training. The result? A training package with best-practice clinical training methods, gaming principles and an iterative testing process.

The next step was to have Monash University validate the app, thanks to the support of an Innovation Connections Researcher Placement grant. 

As a result, Smartstream can now train and educate consumers on their medical safety products through the app.  

For Smartstream’s General Manager, Chamindika Konara, their involvement gave them a real competitive edge.

“The team at Innovations Connections have been fantastic to work with and this service has made a real difference to us as an Australian medical device company, to be competitive globally,” Chamindika said. 

Close up image of a pressure gauge
With help from Innovation Connections Airconstruct created a cheaper, more efficient way to monitor HVAC systems.

Putting a freeze on expensive maintenance 

Traditionally Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems receive regular, expensive maintenance – whether they need it or not. That’s because their maintenance schedule is usually based on hours run rather than more important parameters. For instance, the conditions and environment they were run in. 

Queensland-based company Airconstruct wanted to create a more efficient, effective and cost-effective method. 

With the assistance of an Innovation Connections grant, Airconstruct developed a new remotely monitored maintenance system for split type air conditioning units. With our help, they were able to capture real-time condition data. This led to the creation of a new system that takes into account condition priorities, fault detection diagnosis and predictive maintenance monitoring technology.  

In addition, the service has allowed Airconstruct to develop new services and income streams, plus a more efficient product that saves customers money.  

“The Innovation Connections project helped us to explore our idea, with industry best researchers, which was in turn perfect for us, as we were able to prove this outcome could be achieved,” said Airconstruct’s Managing Director, David Jones. 

As well as designing, building and installing these systems Airconstruct can now offer maintenance as a service. It’s also improved how they manage and delegate work to their staff. Due to this, highly skilled technical staff can now focus on priority tasks while cleaning staff with the required training can complete non-invasive maintenance.

Get connected

If you are ready to transform your business, we can help you take the next step.

Our experienced facilitators are based across Australia. They can apply their breadth of industry experience to assist your business in identifying research needs and opportunities. In other words, we can help! Get in touch with one of our team for a free consultation.

Alternatively, to learn more, visit or call 13 28 46.


  1. This is a great. Work needs to be done in on going monitoring systems for electrical and gas units/systems in housing. A lot of money is being wasted in compulsory bi-annual audits (Victoria) of rental properties. Noting normal housing is being audited!

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