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NSW Physical Sciences Fund

Physical Sciences Fund FAQ

Who is eligible to apply?

To be eligible for the PSF, applicants must:

  • have an Australian Business Number (ABN)
  • be registered for the purposes of GST
  • be headquartered in NSW
  • be one of the following:
    • a company incorporated under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) (including a company limited by guarantee)
    • an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Corporation registered under the Corporations (Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (Cth)
    • an individual or partnership who agrees to form a company under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) so that DEIT can enter into a legally binding Deed of Agreement, or
    • a NSW public research organisation or not-for-profit organisation applying through its appropriate technology transfer office or the Chief Executive Officer (or equivalent) of the organisation that will become a separate entity before entering into a legally binding Deed of Agreement with DEIT.
  • Applicants must hold the Intellectual Property or the rights to commercialise the device/system/innovation.
  • An applicant can only apply for one project per funding round.

The following are not eligible to apply for the PSF: an Australian or NSW Government agency, a not-for-profit organisation with no plans to spin out, local government, a state-owned corporation or statutory authority, a business with revenue (excluding grant funding) of more than $2.5 million in FY2022/23, an insolvent business, an individual, unincorporated association or partnership that will not form a company under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).

Joint applications are encouraged. For details, please refer to the PSF Guidelines.

Not based in NSW?

To receive funding, applicants must be headquartered in NSW and demonstrate that the majority of project activities will be based in NSW. In cases where project partners or project locations are outside NSW, the application should provide details as to why (e.g. providing a specific capability, expertise or technology that is not available in NSW).

What are eligible grant activities under the PSF?

For a grant activity to be eligible it must:

  • have a maximum project period of two years (unless there are exceptional circumstances). Projects will require clear and achievable milestones (e.g. moving from TRL 3 to TRL 5) to support appropriate staging and monitoring
  • seek to progress an innovation along the commercialisation pathway
  • have an existing prototype/proof-of-concept
  • be TRL 3-7 on the TRL Scale (see PSF Guidelines for more details)
  • demonstrate why sufficient funding for the entire project cannot be accessed from alternative sources and that the project would not proceed at the proposed scale in NSW without government support.

For applications in digital technology or defence-related technology, the following eligibility criteria apply:

  • only digital technology systems that support a physical science project will be eligible for the PSF
  • technologies that have applications in the Defence sector will only be deemed eligible for the PSF if its primary purpose and revenue stream is commercial applications
  • the Subcommittee or the Expert Panel reserves the right to determine the eligibility of an application in software or defence-related technology based on the information provided in the application.

Technologies such as biotechnology, synthetic biology, cell-based meats and genetic engineering will be supported through the NSW Biosciences Fund (BioSF – the second round will open in early 2025). Medical devices are funded under the Medical Devices Fund (MDF – the current round is open and accepting applications until 29 March 2024).

What are eligible costs that can be incurred by the PSF funding? What are ineligible costs?

Program funding may only be incurred on agreed Program activities. To be eligible, costs must be used for:

  • prototyping and piloting studies
  • manufacturing and/or scaling
  • conducting market research, testing and trials
  • regulatory approvals and other relevant certifications
  • salaries and access to external expertise that is directly related to delivery of the project
  • commercialisation strategies and commercial feasibility studies
  • project consumables directly related to delivery of project outcomes
  • specialist equipment and/or infrastructure necessary to progress the project*intellectual property protection or advice.

The grant cannot be used for the following activities:

  • the purchase of land or property
  • costs incurred in the preparation of a grant application or related documentation
  • overseas travel
  • the covering of retrospective costs
  • wage costs incurred prior to the activity period of the project or outside of approved project activities*projects requiring ongoing funding from the NSW Government
  • projects that are ongoing or constitute the normal course of business
  • activities that have commenced or been completed prior to an offer of funding made to successful applicants
  • activities that will not be delivered prior to the end of the grant funding period.

What is a good application?

A good application will demonstrate:

  • a brief overview of the organisation and project and how it meets the eligibility criteria
  • a project plan showing the key tasks and milestones linked to your funding request
  • the potential to deliver significant economic, social and/or environmental benefit to NSW
  • details regarding the technology and a strong IP/licensing position
  • project/product development stage, market analysis and value proposition
  • strong engagement with the target market
  • the capabilities of a project team that can successfully deliver outcomes
  • that substantial project activity will be based in NSW
  • a clear need for funding and targeted application of funding

Please refer to the Assessment Criteria in the PSF Guidelines before you complete the application form. Each question is linked to a specific criterion, and a good application addresses this accurately.

What is the definition to be headquartered in NSW?

To be "headquartered in New South Wales" means that a company, organisation, or entity has its main office or administrative centre located within the state of New South Wales, Australia. This indicates that the primary decision-making, executive, and administrative functions of the entity are based in NSW.

OCSE will check other resources or databases, such as the Australian Business Register and/or the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) register or other resources to verify that the company, organisation, or entity’s registered office address is in NSW. We might also ask applicants for additional information to verify this information.

What does Technology Readiness Level mean?

The Technology Readiness Level (TRL) estimates the maturity of an innovation by considering the technological concepts and requirements and demonstrated capabilities of your innovation. You will be required to estimate the TRL of your innovation using the table in Appendix A of the PSF Guidelines.

The PSF considers projects that demonstrate an estimated commercial proposition which scores between 3 and 7 on the TRL scale. An eligible project will have a demonstrated proof of concept that requires some development or support before it can be launched to market.

If your project is developing a theory for real-world application or a prototype (scoring between 1 and 2 on the TRL), it may be too early to receive funding under the PSF. Alternatively, if your project is ready for commercialisation (TRL 9) and/or has already received significant private-sector investment, it may be too mature to receive funding under the PSF.

How does the funding work? Do I need to repay the grant?

If you are successful, the grant will be payable upon the execution of the Deed of Agreement. Invoices for grant payments will be submitted and paid in a single tranche, or as dictated by the Deed of Agreement.

The applicant must repay the grant if the organisation achieves a specified level of economic success from project outcomes (e.g. once the recipient reaches an agreed revenue threshold through the commercialisation of the device or system). As part of the Deed of Agreement discussion, the financial advisor will take you through the Return-On-Investment process, and map out how and when the repayment obligations begin under various scenarios (base-case, optimistic-case, pessimistic-case). These will be revisited as part of your annual reporting requirements. Funding gained from capital fund raising rounds or other grants is not considered as revenue from project outcomes.

Who will assess my application?

The assessment of applications will be led by the independent Expert Panel, supported by the PSF Subcommittee and the OCSE Grant Delivery Team as Secretariat to the PSF.

Once Stage 1: Preliminary Applications has closed, the OCSE Grant Delivery Team will review Preliminary Applications for eligibility and provide a report to an independent Subcommittee on the eligible and ineligible applications. The PSF Subcommittee will undertake an initial assessment of eligible applications against the assessment criteria. Each application will be scored out of 100, with the following weightage provided to the three assessment criteria:

  • Innovation (out of 35)
  • Commercialisation (out of 35)
  • Deliverability (out of 30)

The Subcommittee will shortlist the highest ranked applications to be reviewed by the Expert Panel. Following assessment of the shortlisted Preliminary Applications, the Expert Panel will determine which applicants will progress to the next stage, where the individual or organisation is invited to Stage 2: Full Applications.

Shortlisted applicants that are invited to submit a Full Application must submit a more detailed application. The Expert Panel will assess Full Applications on the extent to which proposals address the Assessment Criteria outlined above and conduct a comparative assessment of the applications against others. An independent financial advisor will undertake financial assessments of applications and report to the Expert Panel on organisational and/or project-specific risks. The Expert Panel will also interview the applicants, to discuss their PSF project, and ask questions regarding their submission. Following assessment of Full Applications and completion of interviews, the Expert Panel will undertake a final discussion about the applications and recommend the funding recipients for the round.

An independent probity advisor will be present to provide guidance to OCSE Grant Delivery Team, Subcommittee and Expert Panel on integrity, fairness and accountability, and ensure transparency of the Program’s administration.

Can I apply if I already have funding from another source? Am I allowed to reapply to the PSF?

Yes, you can apply if you already have funding from other source(s), but it should not duplicate the activities in the PSF application.

Both successful and unsuccessful applicants from previous years can reapply to the PSF. Previous funding recipients need to provide evidence in their application on how they've progressed their original PSF project, and whether they've achieved the milestones detailed in their original project plan and Deed of Agreement.

I need help developing my idea. Where can I go for support? 

There are many university accelerators, technology transfer offices and early-stage funds in NSW that may be able to provide advice. Some of these include:

At OCSE, we are committed to diversity, equity and inclusion. We encourage diverse applicants including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and people with a disability to apply. If you have disability and require more information on adjustments and assistance to apply, please contact us.

Who can I contact if I still have a question?

You can contact the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer at grants@chiefscientist.nsw.gov.au where someone will respond to your query via email or phone.