The University of Newcastle, Australia

Are you a Hunter or Central Coast-based business seeking to commercialise an innovative product that addresses the impact of COVID-19?

The NSW Government's Innovation Districts Challenges is a series of mission-based funding initiatives that are designed to accelerate the commercialisation of research products that address the impacts of COVID-19 by businesses in partnership with universities and CSIRO in NSW.

Who is this for?

Small to medium-sized enterprises that have a product or service that directly addresses the impact of COVID-19 (see eligibility criteria).

Challenge One is now open

Challenge One is seeking health and wellbeing solutions that reduce the impact of COVID-19 on the people of NSW.

Funding opportunities

The total funding pool available for each Challenge is $500,000 comprising:

  • The highest-ranked applicant, $250,000
  • Second-highest ranked applicant, $100,000
  • Third-highest ranked applicant, $30,000
  • The highest-ranked applicant in each Innovation District that is not one of the statewide overall recipients will be granted $10,000, as determined by the evaluation panel.

Funding may be used for business activities that enable the commercialisation of a product or service (which may still be in development) that directly addresses the Challenge Statement and that is intended to enter the market within 12 months.  Solutions designed to improve internal business processes that are unrelated to these activities is not considered a valid use of funds.

Expressions of Interest

The University of Newcastle is an Innovation District Partner and will support eligible Hunter and Central Coast-based businesses, or businesses located elsewhere in NSW that have an existing/previous connection to the University through research projects or similar collaborative activities, through Stage 1 Expression of Interest (EOI) of the Innovation Districts Challenge via the following steps:

Step 1: Expression of Interest submission by the business.

Step 2: Eligibility check by the NSW Government.

Step 3: Interview between the business and a University representative.

Step 4: An independent selection process using assessment criteria to identify the top three EOI applications to be nominated to progress to Stage 2.

Step 5: If requested, the three finalists will be provided assistance for their Stage 2 application through any of the following options:

  • A one-on-one coaching session to support the preparation of application
  • Review of application
  • Introductions to University of Newcastle researchers, if relevant
  • Pitch coaching

Unsuccessful or ineligible EOI applicants will be provided details of pathways to other relevant funding initiatives and/or program recommendations to assist in determining a commercialisation pathway for their product.

Important dates

EOIs close: 11:59 PM Sunday 1 November 2020

Top 3 EOIs and unsuccessful EOIs notified: by close of business, Tuesday 3 November 2020

Top 3 EOIs Stage 2 application and pitch assistance: 4-11 November 2020

Top 3 EOIs Stage 2 applications due: 11:59 PM Wednesday 11 November 2020


View the guidelines for the Innovation Districts Challenge.

Make an expression of interest Innovation Districts Challenge