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 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 millionNSWOpennswclimate-environment science tech-deep-techopen
NERA GeneratER program

GeneratER is providing innovative businesses with the opportunity to pilot their solutions and potentially capture a greater share of the multi-billion dollar spend in the energy resources supply chain under a transformative program that drives innovation and productivity and grows local businesses and jobs.

The first round of the GeneratER program is now open. Western Australian based businesses have the opportunity to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) to industry challenges.

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/ EnvironmentAllOpenallclimate-environmentopen
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 2021

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 Solve Global Innovation Challenges MIT

Do you have a solution to a global problem? Apply to Solve’s Global Challenges, which are open to anyone, anywhere in the world between February to June each year. Offesr over $2 million in funding to selected Solver® teams, who will join our MIT-backed network and receive 9 months of personalized support from peers, funders, and experts.

AllPool of $2 million in fundingAllClosedallallclosed
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 purseAllOpenallclimate-environmentopen
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

In this round of the Business Research and Innovation Initiative, the priority areas are 4 challenges that government currently faces in policy and service delivery areas. The grant gives you the opportunity to solve these challenges using innovative approaches.

This round focuses on regulatory technology (RegTech) which uses digital technologies to streamline or enhance compliance for businesses or individuals, and administration for government.

AllUp to $100K to conduct a feasibility study and if successfu, up to $1million 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.