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$300k up for grabs to develop AI solutions for SMEs


Australia has launched its AI Sprint program, aimed at assisting startups and entrepreneurs in rapidly developing AI solutions to tackle pressing national issues. 

These include the cost of living, governance, supply chain resilience, human and environmental well-being, and workforce transformation. The AI Sprint is a collaborative effort between the National AI Centre (led by Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO), Stone & Chalk (Australia’s largest innovation community), and Google Cloud.

Winners of the AI Sprint will receive $300,000 worth of research and development support from selected Australian research institutes, with second and third place recipients awarded $100,000 each. Additionally, winners will benefit from facilitation services provided by CSIRO’s SME Connect. Stone & Chalk will offer support services to help winners secure capital, customers, expertise, and talent for a successful business launch.

The program spans three months and is designed to provide startups and entrepreneurs with resources, tools, and expert support to refine AI-powered ideas into demonstration-ready prototypes. Participants will be selected based on proposals aligned with the program’s opportunity statements, with the first phase scheduled to begin in April 2024. Selected participants will progress to the second stage, receiving enhanced support and resources in preparation for a Demo Day, where prototypes will be presented to industry stakeholders. The partnership between Stone & Chalk, Google Cloud, and NAIC aims to nurture AI innovation and position Australia at the forefront of responsible AI advancement.

The program offers access to expert guidance, infrastructure, and connections needed to create and launch AI-powered solutions. It commences on April 3, 2024, and culminates in a Demo Day in June. Winners will also receive research and development support valued at $500,000 from selected Australian research institutes.

The AI Sprint is open to individuals and entities with an Australian Business Number (ABN), provided they meet certain criteria, including having a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and employing fewer than 20 full-time staff members.

Participants will benefit from two stages of the program, including AI educational content, expert guidance, business mentoring, introductions to investor networks, and the opportunity to showcase their solutions at the Demo Day.

Applications are open until March 21, 2024. The program aims to contribute to the growth of Australia’s AI industry and accelerate the nation’s sovereign AI capabilities.

National AI Centre Director Stela Solar said Australia’s AI Sprint is central to the NAIC’s mission to create a thriving local AI industry and accelerate the nation’s sovereign AI capabilities.

“Australia’s AI Sprint offers our innovators the technological expertise and commercial savvy to create AI solutions with real impact for Australia. The initiative provides start-ups 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.”     

CEO of Stone & Chalk Group, Chris Kirk, said by partnering with NAIC and Google Cloud, Australia’s AI Sprint has the unique ability to accelerate the long-term growth of AI in Australia. 

“By uniting our organisations’ unique strengths, we have an unprecedented opportunity to cultivate world-class AI talent, drive innovation, and develop solutions that will benefit Australians in the digital age,” Mr Kirk said. “Australia’s AI Sprint is a game-changer that will significantly strengthen our nation’s AI ecosystem for the future.”   

Applicants can access further details and apply here.

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