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What is the small business initiative?

The Industry Competitive Evaluation Research Agreement (ICERA) initiative offers a significant opportunity for small to medium enterprises (SMEs) to investigate innovative and visionary projects which will contribute to improving defence industry capability.

ICERA will provide $36 million over the next 6 years to support development of ambitious, game changing concepts and capabilities.

The main themes for the new small business initiative have a focus on:

Cyber Defence and Cyber Security.

There will also be opportunities for submissions in a range of other areas including:

  • integrated intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance
  • medical countermeasures
  • space
  • trusted autonomous systems

Successful projects may be considered for further funding or collaborative opportunities through other avenues and mechanisms.

Applicants may propose to develop and validate next generation concepts or evolve existing technologies to deliver leap ahead capabilities.

iCERA Small Business Initiative — Themes

Support for successful projects

Cash support of up to $300,000 per proposal will be provided for projects up to 18 months in duration.

Inter-organisational collaboration will not be mandated as part of this initiative. Collaboration will however be supported where it can be managed in a way that is consistent with evolving COVID-19 related Commonwealth and State government guidance, managed remotely and conducted in a safe and responsible manner.

Proposals that are consistent with the objectives of Next Generation Technologies Fund (NGTF) Science and Technology (S&T) themes and best address the NGTF priorities and problem statements will be considered for NGTF funding.

How are the proposals assessed?

To align with current priorities as outlined in the 2020 Defence Strategic Update and the Defence Science and Technology Strategy 2030 proposals will be considered in three tiers. Tier 1 proposals will be given preference over Tier 2, with Tier 3 proposals given the lowest priority. Only exceptional proposals in Tier 3 will be considered for funding. Successful applications will demonstrate a clear link to the problem statements and will have the potential to mature the technology aligned with NGTF objectives.

Am I eligible?

Proposals will only be considered from eligible Australian and New Zealand SMEs with 200 employees or less. Applicants are required to have an Australian Business Number (ABN) or New Zealand Business Number (NZBN) and be registered for Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Your SME may be incorporated (including incorporated trustees on behalf of a trust), a sole trader, or a partnership. However your proposal must clearly specify the legal entity (not merely your business name) which will be undertaking the project.

Proposals will not be eligible if they have been awarded funding (either directly or indirectly by contract or by grant) for the same or similar proposal by the Department of Defence, or another Commonwealth, State, Territory government Department or Agency.

Project foreground Intellectual Property (IP) will vest in the lead SME partner on creation. The lead partner will be responsible for putting in place subcontracting arrangements should they be required as part of a collaboration.

Successful applicants will be required to:

  • Enter into a NGTF Research Contract which will provide Defence with Commonwealth Purpose rights to foreground and embedded background Intellectual Property (IP). This does not include a license to commercialise the IP. The terms and conditions of the NGTF Research Contract will not be negotiated as part of this initiative. View the contract terms and conditions.
  • Hold and maintain public liability insurance of no less than $10m.
  • Meet milestone reporting requirements, which will include an initial scoping report and a final report that enables the Commonwealth to assess project outcomes, and to exercise the aforementioned Commonwealth Purpose rights.

Applicants may be required to provide additional information to inform security assessments. Subject to the nature of proposals and Defence assessments, some personnel may also require security clearances to be eligible for funding. Only Australian citizens will be eligible for security clearances.

How do I apply?

All proposals are to be submitted via the Department of Science and Technology (DST) portal by 5:00pm (AEDST) 18 September 2020. No extensions will be granted.

Responses to queries that may be of relevance to other applicants will be posted on the FAQ and Noticeboard page. Please review this page to ensure you have the most up to date information.

Submission notification emails will be forwarded to your registered email once your proposal has been successfully submitted.

Submissions must be made in accordance with the guidelines provided by DST and an attached Request for Proposal NGTF Conditions of Participation.

Go to the NGTF call for applications page for more information on the tier priority themes, eligibility requirements, selection criteria and evaluation information and how to apply.

Key dates

Application Opening Date: Wednesday 10:00 am AEDST 19 August 2020

Application Closing Date: Friday 5:00 pm AEDST 18 September 2020

Indicative Award Announcement Date: Thursday 15 October 2020

NGTF Contact

Please contact Simon Martinovic at if you have any queries.