563. Australia commends Switzerland for their support in preparing document IP/C/W/675 and is pleased to be able to co-sponsor it. We also commend the United States and other FOII members for hosting the 9 March 2021 side event on Supporting MSMEs, LDC/LMICs and Green Technology in supporting the transfer of technologies, know-how and experience between all WTO Members, we are pleased that the session was able to offer practical insights from WIPO, government organisations and the private sector.
564. In fighting against the global challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, environmental degradation and food insecurity, Australia recognizes the critical role of green technologies and we also recognize the leading role that MSMEs (or in Australia - Small and Medium Sized Enterprises) play in developing, adapting and sharing green technologies.
565. Australia recognizes that MSMEs have been particularly impacted by the global pandemic, domestically and globally, and initiatives designed to target and support MSMEs in the current climate are particularly important MSMEs have worked hard to continue and in many cases transform their operations, whether through online deliveries, virtual events or the adoption of new digital platforms this readiness to innovate continues to be a key factor in Australia's response to the immediate challenges resulting from the COVID-19 crisis and will be central to helping all businesses and the global economy bounce back.
566. Australia is committed to supporting the green technology industry. The Clean Energy Innovation Fund is the largest dedicated cleantech investor in Australia, created to invest USD 200 million in early-stage clean technology companies. The Innovation Fund targets technologies and businesses, including SMEs, that have passed beyond the research and development stage and which can benefit from early stage seed or growth capital to help them progress to the next stage of their development.
567. It draws on CEFC finance and expertise to provide primarily equity finance to innovative businesses which work in the areas of renewable energy, energy efficiency and low emissions technologies. I want to take this chance to highlight a few of the businesses that the Fund has supported:
568. First, Tenacious Ventures. This is Australia's first dedicated agrifood tech venture capital firm. It supports early stage companies that are developing technologies to lower emissions and increase energy efficiency in the agriculture sector.
569. Second, the Spoil Carbon Company. Retaining organic carbon in soil is vital for extensive agricultural systems, and SCC is developing a microbial treatment for seeds with the potential to improve the drought resilience of farming land, lift productivity, cut fertilizer use and remove carbon from the atmosphere.
570. Australia also offers a range of initiatives and programmes to help SMEs, including those in the green tech sector, protect their inventions and navigate the IP space by successfully obtaining protection for their IP.
571. For example, The Entrepreneurs' Programme for Accelerating Commercialisation Grants provides financial assistance to help small and medium businesses, entrepreneurs and researchers commercialise novel products, processes and services. The grant amount is up to 50% of eligible project costs up to the maximum grant limit, with progress payments made in advance eligible activities must be directly related to commercialisation of a novel offering and can include professional costs to develop an intellectual property (IP) strategy; reasonable costs to protect IP, such as IP insurance; and other costs to obtain and maintain a patent.
572. Finally, IP Australia, our specialised Government IP agency also offers a range of tools for SMEs in the green tech space, including fact sheets on IP commercialisation and exporting, a portal to allow the fast track of patent examinations, and a number of webinars and educational materials and the Government also continues to progress our Patent Accessibility Review, which is an independent review of the accessibility of the Australian patent system for small and medium sized enterprises. The review highlights opportunities for the Australian Government to support SMEs to participate in and engage with the IP Rights system.
573. We look forward to further exchanges with Members on how to use IP-related tools to support MSMEs in the green tech industry.