Innovation Challenges

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It’s comprehensive and regularly updated.

To tackle pressing challenges, governments and businesses need innovative solutions. These programs support innovators to solve problems and develop new technology, products, services or business models aligned with government or industry priorities. Funding amounts vary. Some programs offer training or networking in addition/instead.

This database has been updated in July 2020 with information to the best of our knowledge. If you see any inaccuracies please get in touch.

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NameSummarySectorFunding AmountLocationStatusMore Infohf:att:pa_locationhf:att:pa_sectorhf:att:pa_statushf:att:pa_accelerator-or-incubatorhf:att:pa_seed-or-equity-fundinghf:att:pa_uni-govt-private
NSW Smart City Innovation Challenge

The NSW government is hosting three innovation challenges in 2022, to find leading-edge technology and data solutions to problems. The first innovation challenge is now open. The challenge seeks solutions to how the government generates, models, and accesses precinct-level material usage, reuse, recycling, and disposal data to support circular economy initiatives. Submit your ideas before 2pm on May 4.

Waste/ Recycling$1millionNSWClosednswwaste-recyclingclosed
CISCO Global Problem Solver Challenge

The Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge aims to recognize new business ideas that leverage technology for social impact from early-stage entrepreneurs around the world. $1,000,000 USD in prize money will help accelerate the adoption of breakthrough technology, products, and services that drive economic development and/or solve social or environmental problems. $300,000 USD of this is reserved for climate impact & regeneration prizes. Apply before February 11.

Safeguarding Australia Technology Challenges

Australia’s National Security Science and Technology Centre within Defence is seeking solutions to the three detailed challenges below:

  • Safe Vehicle Interdiction
  • Enhanced Crime Scene DNA Collection
  • Digital Forensic Tools
Growlab Grains Challenge

The Grains Research & Development Corporation and Cicada Innovations are looking for innovative deep tech solutions that can help to drive the sustainability and help create enduring profitability for Australian grain growers.

From task automation and sensors to renewable technologies and genetic tools, they’re looking for deep technologies that will help growers.

Ag/ Agritech/ FoodAllClosedallag-agritech-foodclosed
National Soil Carbon Innovation Challenge

The National Soil Carbon Innovation Challenge: Feasibility Study Grants support successful applicants to conduct feasibility studies that demonstrate the technical viability and commercial potential of your soil carbon measurement solutions.
The objectives of the National Soil Carbon Innovation Challenge program are to:
1. fast-track the development of lower-cost, accurate technical approaches to enable land managers to quantify the impact of their land management activities on soil organic carbon
2. secure co-investment and foster partnerships that trial and deploy novel soil carbon measurement technological solutions.

Ag/ Agritech/ FoodAllClosedallag-agritech-foodclosed
NSSN Grand Challenge Fund

NSW Smart Sensing Network (NSSN) is calling on research, industry and government stakeholders to form collaborative proposals and apply for funding under round two of the NSSN Grand Challenges Fund. The Fund has been established to promote the development of innovative, collaborative research projects that advance smart sensing solutions to the eight NSSN Grand Challenges: ageing, bushfires, COVID-19, water; mining, and smart places and buildings.

Applications close 21 February 2022.

Human Integrated Sensor System Challenge

In collaboration with DMTC, Defence is seeking collaborative proposals from industry and academia to develop a Human Integrated Sensor System (HISS) which can measure and interpret indicators of biological pathogen exposure from the human body before the individual gets sick. Submissions close 1700 (AEDT) 17 December 2021.

Innovation Challenge 2021: Child and Youth Mental Health

The Innovation Challenge 2021: Child and Youth Mental Health seeks to stimulate innovation, and the development and delivery of a solution to a significant unmet need identified by the Challenge ‘winner’ in the area of child and youth (0 – 24 years) mental health in Western Australia.

Funding will be provided on a competitive basis to innovation proposals which demonstrate potential to develop and implement novel (new) processes, products and/or services relevant to this area. The proposed solution must result in transformative/disruptive change. The Challenge will be open to legally constituted entities that may be based in Western Australia, Australia or internationally.

Medical/ Heath/ Pharma/ BioTechAll, ACT, NSW, NT, QLD, SA, TAS, VIC, WAClosedall|act|nsw|nt|qld|sa|tas|vic|wamedical-medtech-pharmaclosed
Quantum Technology Challenge 2022

The Department of Defence via the Australian Army and the Land Capability Division is seeking proposals that will demonstrate solutions to The Challenge (defined below) at the Quantum Technology Challenge 2022 (QTC2022), tentatively scheduled to be held on 11 August 2022 at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

In this Challenge, Defence wishes to test if:
1. quantum sensors can detect, locate and identify electromagnetic emitters with greater precision, range and bandwidth, whilst reducing (or at least not increasing) detector size, weight and power
2. quantum computers can identify and classify features in signals and images more precisely and efficiently
3. post-quantum cryptography can be practically employed to secure communications from the threat of quantum computers.

Defence, IT/ Cybersecurity/ IoTAllClosedalldefence|itclosed
NSW Small Business Innovation & Research (SBIR) program

The NSW Small Business Innovation & Research (SBIR) program is an initiative of the NSW Government that provides competitive grants to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to find and commercialise innovative solutions to well-defined problems for NSW Government agencies.

The 2021 SBIR program will provide up to $12 million in grants to NSW SMEs to solve the five NSW Government challenges of Connectivity, Hyperlocal navigation, Koala count, Personal Protective Equipment, and Water purification.

Climate/ Environment, Science, Tech/ Deep tech/ InnovationUp to $1.1 millionNSWClosednswclimate-environment|science|tech-deep-techclosed
NERA GeneratER program

Round two of the GeneratER program opened on 2 December 2021. As part of this round, Western Australian based businesses were invited to submit an EOI to an industry challenge provided by Shell Australia. Shell aims to reduce its waste sent to landfill and achieve the target of at least 80% overall waste recycling and reuse.

This current round closes on Friday, 14 January 2022 at 5pm AWST.

Renewables/ Energy/ Resources$50KWAClosedwarenewables-energy-resourcesclosed
NSW Small Business Innovation & Research program

The NSW Small Business Innovation & Research (SBIR) program is an initiative of the NSW Government that provides competitive grants to SMEs to find and commercialise innovative solutions to well-defined problems for NSW Government agencies. The 2021 SBIR program will provide up to $12 million in grants to NSW SMEs to solve the five NSW Government challenges: 1. Connectivity 2. Hyperlocal navigation 3. Koala count 4. Personal Protective Equipment 5. Water purification.

Climate/ Environment, IT/ Cybersecurity/ IoT, Waste/ RecyclingStage 1 funding of up to $100KNSWClosednswclimate-environment|it|waste-recyclingclosed
South Australian Innovation Challenge

The SA Innovation Challenge will foster new collaborations between researchers and businesses, to harness R&D to deliver technology-based solutions, drive innovation and create market advantage for startups, SMEs and businesses. The Challenge will focus on the Growth State priority sectors of health and medical industries and hi-tech, creating early market advantage and growth opportunities for South Australian businesses.

Medical/ Heath/ Pharma/ BioTech, Tech/ Deep tech/ InnovationSAClosedsamedical-medtech-pharma|tech-deep-techclosed
XPRIZE Carbon Removal

XPRIZE Carbon Removal is aimed at tackling the biggest threat facing humanity — fighting climate change and rebalancing Earth’s carbon cycle. Funded by Elon Musk and the Musk Foundation, this $100M competition is the largest incentive prize in history, an extraordinary milestone. This four-year global competition invites innovators and teams from anywhere on the planet to create and demonstrate solutions that can pull carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere or oceans ultimately scaling massively to gigaton levels, locking away CO2 permanently in an environmentally benign way. Team registration opens with the announcement of the full competition guidelines on Earth Day, April 22nd 2021.

Climate/ EnvironmentAllClosedallclimate-environmentclosed
Earthshot Prize

The challenges will be a chance for everyone’s voice to be heard, we want to motivate and inspire a new generation of thinkers, leaders and dreamers . Our prizes will reward progress across all sectors of industry and society, not just technology. The prizes could be awarded to a wide range of individuals, teams or collaborations – scientists, activists, economists, leaders, governments, banks, businesses, cities, and countries – anyone who is making a substantial development or outstanding contribution to solving our environmental challenges.

Climate/ EnvironmentAllallclimate-environment
Extreme Tech Challenge

Inspired by the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the XTC supports and showcases the innovators harnessing the power of technology to address the greatest challenges facing humanity and our planet. Through its global startup competition, XTC provides top contenders the potential for global visibility, the ability to raise capital, network with global entities (corporations, VCs, partners), and gain mentorship opportunities they need to pioneer technological breakthroughs and help power a sustainable future.

Google News Initiative Innovation Challenge Google

Global effort to work with the news industry to help journalism thrive in the digital age. Through rounds of regional funding, the GNI Innovation Challenges will empower news innovators from around the world to demonstrate new thinking in online journalism and the development of new publishing business models.

News/ MediaUp to $300KAllClosedallnews-mediaclosed Impact Challenge Google

Challenge asks local nonprofit innovators and social entrepreneurs how they would make their community—and beyond—an even better place. The public and a panel of local judges vote for the ideas with the most potential, and pairs each winner with a strategic package of support including funding and Google volunteers.


Thinkable is a science competition platform that allows organisations to engage top researchers from world-class universities to communicate, ideate or innovate around innovation objectives important to them.

Falling Walls Lab Australia Australian Academy of Science

This international forum promotes interdisciplinary connections between aspiring academics, innovators, entrepreneurs, investors and professionals, known for their excellent work. Participants are given three minutes to present their research work, business model or initiative to a broad audience from science and industry, including a distinguished jury who selects the most innovative and promising idea. Candidates should be research active in any field of the natural sciences, including technology, engineering and medicine, or social sciences and the humanities.

Humanities, ScienceTop three ranked presenters of the Lab will receive $1K prize money eachAllClosedallhumanities|scienceclosed
Humanitarian Innovation Hackathon The Warren Centre

The Humanitarian Innovation Hackathon is a weekend-long event, taking place in Sydney, NSW. This event is designed for university students to work collaboratively in cross-discipline teams to create technology-driven solutions for pressing humanitarian challenges. Participants will be asked to identify practical solutions for real and current problems that are submitted by the humanitarian disaster organisation, RedR Australia.

Millennium Technology Prize Technology Academy Finland

The Prize is awarded for groundbreaking technological innovations that benefit millions of people around the world by: enhancing quality of life, promoting sustainable development and mitigation of climate change, generating applications with global commercial viability, creating new socio-economic value or stimulating further cutting-edge research and development in science and technology

Tech/ Deep tech/ InnovationAllClosedalltech-deep-techclosed
Advance Queensland IndustryTech Fund (ITF) The Queensland Government

Provides financial incentives to larger scale co-funded projects that accelerate the development and deployment of significant and highly collaborative industry based platform technology projects.

AllMin of $250K, to a max of $5 million per projectQLDClosedqldallclosed
AustCyber Projects Fund AustCyber Growth Centre

Fund is a $15 million, three-year initiative designed to help the Australian cyber security industry grow and take ideas global.

IT/ Cybersecurity/ IoTMatch funding for projects can be between AUD$100K and AUD$3 millionAllClosedallitclosed
MIT Solv[ed] Youth Innovation Challenge MIT

Are you 24 and under and passionate about making a positive impact in your community and the world? Whether your solution is a concept, a product that is being prototyped, a service that is being piloted in your local community, or a fully operational nonprofit or for-profit organization, we want to hear from you.

AllOver $200KAllClosedallallclosed
Small Business Innovation Research for Defence (SBIRD) Defence Science and Technology,

SBIRD supports SMEs to work on research projects aligned with defence priorities through the Next Generation Technologies Fund. SBIRD projects may relate to specific challenges identified by Defence, or have a broader scope across an emerging technology field with potential for disruptive innovation. SBIRD projects are research intensive and address future-focused challenges aligned with DST strategic direction and work programs.

DefenceStage 1 funding of up to $100K, Stage 2 funding of up to $750K.AllClosedalldefenceclosed
Creating Hope in Conflict: A Humanitarian Grand Challenge U.S. Agency for International Developmen, U.K. Department for International Development, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, Grand Challenges Canada.

Aim to identify and support groundbreaking solutions that engage the private sector and draw from the experiences of affected communities in order to significantly improve – and in many cases, save – the lives of vulnerable people affected by conflict. Goal is to identify solutions that allow communities to respond more nimbly to complex emergencies and take steps to create better lives for themselves.

AllSeed funding of up to $250K CAD per projectAllClosedallallclosed
The Grand Challenge University of Newcastle

There are two problem statements to this Challenge. Proposals should include responses to one or both of the following questions: How might we reduce the health risks that certain species of mosquitoes pose to humans? And How might we lessen the nuisance factor imposed by urban and invading mosquito populations? All proposals are required to be socially and environmentally responsible and work towards the benefit of either local or global communities. Must be UoN alumnus, staffor student

Humanities, ScienceCombined $50K in funding is availableAllClosedallhumanities|scienceclosed
IOT/WT Innovation World Cup

Is your Internet of Things (IoT) and Wearable Technology (WT) solution transforming the tech market? The IoT/WT Innovation World Cup®, the world’s leading competition for IoT and wearable tech start-ups, scale-ups and SMEs, is welcoming techpreneurs from around the world to make their innovations striking!

IT/ Cybersecurity/ IoTCash prize of 10K Euro, overall prizes worth more than 500K USDAllClosedallitclosed
Xprize COVID testing

XPRIZE Rapid Covid Testing is a $5 million dollar, 6-month competition to develop faster, cheaper, and easier to use COVID-19 testing methods at scale. No more guessing. No more lack of tests. The world needs more high-quality, affordable testing to safely re-open.

Science$5 million dollar prize purseAllClosedallscienceclosed
Xprize Rapid Reskilling

XPRIZE Rapid Reskilling is a $5 million dollar, 30-month competition to quickly reskill under-resourced workers for the digital revolution. The winning team will leverage novel solutions that will rapidly train 500 individuals in 60 days or less at no entry cost, place as many as possible within 60 days, ensure job retention of at least 90 days, and demonstrate exponential adoption by deploying the training solutions for 5,000 individuals in three industries.

All$5 million dollar prize purseAllClosedallallclosed
Xprize Rainforest

The $10M XPRIZE Rainforest is a five-year competition to enhance our understanding of the rainforest ecosystem. XPRIZE Rainforest will accelerate the innovation of autonomous technologies needed for biodiversity assessment and will enhance our understanding of rainforest ecosystems by using rapid data integration to provide new wisdom about the forest as well as inspire new investment and exploration.

Climate/ Environment$10 million dollar prize purseAllClosedallclimate-environmentclosed
Wells of Knowledge Origin

Origin is seeking your recommendations and insights on how to optimise their drilling process and maximise the rate of drilling new gas wells. This challenge invites data scientists, geologists, drilling engineers, mathematicians and anyone with a keen interest in data to analyse and provide insight into the drilling data of over 1,000 wells to help them maximise their CSG well rate of penetration.

Mining/ METS/ Resources$10KAllClosedallmining-mets-resourcesclosed
Business Research and Innovation Initiative (BRII) – Priority Sectors Round

The Business Research and Innovation Initiative provides businesses with funding to solve government challenges using innovative approaches and technologies. This round will focus on the Automatic mutual recognition of occupational registrations (AMR) scheme.

Grants from $50,000 to $70,000 for your feasibility study. If your feasibility study is successful, you may receive up to $675,000 to develop a proof of concept.

All$50,000 to $70,000 for your feasibility study. If your feasibility study is successful, you may receive up to $675,000 to develop a proof of concept.AllClosedallallclosed

We do our best to keep the information in this database updated, but cannot guarantee accuracy. To confirm any details – eligibility, closing dates, etc – please contact the relevant accelerator or incubator. If you’re aware of other commercialisation accelerators and incubators not in this database, please let us know.