The Federal Government is calling on small and medium businesses to develop innovative solutions for Australia’s environmental challenges, with $12 million in funding available through the Business Research and Innovation Initiative (BRII).
The latest funding round will address five key challenges including turning office trash into energy treasure, which will be administered through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).
According to a Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources statement, ARENA is seeking a way to conduct an analysis of waste streams from an office building in order to design and build an energy recovery pilot facility.
“The critical innovation is to demonstrate a step-change in resource recovery rates by combining innovations in technology and onsite waste management practices,” the statement reads.
The department highlights that while there have been some leading pilots, energy recovery from food waste is not yet commercial at an individual building level in Australia.
“The implementation of energy recovery and waste management practices could provide a blueprint for large office buildings to offset energy use whilst avoiding landfill emissions,” the statement reads.
“Solving this challenge will require innovative thinking related to resource recovery, implementing new strategies and implementing energy recovery technologies to revolutionise existing waste management practices.”
The challenge includes a technical and economic feasibility study of a pilot-scale energy recovery facility for an office building.
Applicants are also encouraged to consider education and training, as well as strategies for demonstrating the social and environmental benefits of waste management, including energy recovery.
“The proof of concept stage should include developing and building a prototype energy recovery facility,” the statement reads.
“A solution should also have scope for commercialisation on a national or global scale.”
Additional challenges under this funding round include automating the detection of whales at sea, turning farm crops into a renewable hydrogen source and “revolutionising” agricultural spray application.
“This is a great opportunity for Australian businesses to think outside the box and develop clever ideas that can help solve policy issues within government,” Industry, Science and Technology Minister Karen Andrews said.
“This round of BRII aims to find more effective ways of dealing with challenges that affect our oceans, water and soil quality, as well as recycling technologies.”
Australian startups and small and medium businesses can submit proposals for ideas that address the challenges, with successful applicants to receive grants of up to $100,000 to further develop ideas and test feasibility over three months.
The most successful of these ideas may then be eligible for a grant of up to $1 million to develop a prototype or proof of concept over a maximum of 18 months.
Relevant government agencies will have the option to purchase these solutions at the end of the proof of concept stage.
“Not only does this initiative help government agencies with tailored solutions that mean better value for taxpayers, it also gives startups and businesses the chance to develop new products and technologies for the global market,” Andrews said.
Applications close 10 September.