A NSW Government website

Natural Hazards Technology Program


What is the Natural Hazards Technology Program?

The Natural Hazards Technology Program (NHTP) is an initiative of the NSW Government to accelerate technology innovation and adoption to better prepare for and respond to natural hazards by trialling field-ready technology with end-user NSW agencies. It builds on the success of the Bushfire Technology Pilots Program and expands the remit to provide tangible assistance in overcoming challenges from natural hazards.

The program is designed to:

  • find technology solutions to challenges faced by NSW agencies in the management of natural hazards
  • support innovative NSW businesses to field-test their technologies with NSW agencies to:
  • refine and improve their product for market
  • build relationships with NSW agencies to increase opportunities for future collaborations
  • build and improve NSW Government awareness of innovation possibilities in natural hazards management and operations through exposure to new technology.

How does the NHTP program work?

The program involves NSW agencies posing challenges to address current gaps in responding to, managing, and recovering from natural hazards. There is also a ‘big ideas’ stream where companies can propose innovative technologies for trialling to help identify future technology capabilities. The Program challenge statements are at www.chiefscientist.nsw.gov.au/natural-hazards-technology-program.

The NHTP assessment is based on a two-stage process:

Stage 1 – Eligibility assessment:

The Office of the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer (OCSE) will conduct an initial eligibility screening for all applications according to the published eligibility criteria in the Program Guidelines. Only applications which meet all eligibility criteria will progress to assessment against the assessment criteria.

Stage 2 – Assessment of eligible applications:

A Panel will assess eligible applications on their merits against other eligible applications before recommending which applications should be awarded grant funding. The membership of the Panel will be determined by OCSE in its sole discretion and will include representatives from the end-user NSW agencies (for example,  NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS), State Emergency Services (SES), Fire & Rescue NSW, Department Planning & Environment, Telco Authority, and the Forestry Corporation); independent experts with business, and technology innovation and commercialisation experience; and an independent Assessor from OCSE not be involved in the grant delivery. The Panel will be chaired by OCSE.

What funding is available?

The Program provides up to $250,000 in funding for companies to field-test their technology solutions over a 12-month period with partnering NSW agencies.

The potential partner agencies include RFS, SES, NSW Fire and Rescue, NSW Forestry Corp, Reconstruction Authority, NSW Telco Authority, Transport for NSW, Department of Planning and Environment and the Department of Customer Service.

How is funding distributed?

The NSW Government will enter into a funding agreement with each successful company. The funding agreement will lay out the eligible expenditure, which will include direct costs of the project and eligible labour expenditure. The lead company will be responsible for distributing the funding to any partners or contractors in accordance with the proposal and funding agreement.

If you are successful, the funding amount will be provided to your organisation in a single payment, following the execution of a funding deed between you and the Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade.

Is the NHTP competitive?

Yes, applications are assessed against assessment criteria (see below). There is no guarantee that the NSW Government will purchase a solution from any grantee.

Who is eligible to apply and what are the requirements?

To be eligible for the Program applicants must:

  • have an Australian Business Number (ABN)
  • be non-tax exempt
  • have an account with an Australian financial institution
  • be headquartered in NSW
  • hold the Intellectual Property or the rights to commercialise the technology
  • demonstrate the technology is ready to be trialled
  • demonstrate any funding from the NSW Physical Sciences Fund (PSF), Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) Program and other NSW or other state or federal government grant programs does not duplicate activities requested under the Program.

and be one of the following entity types:

  • a company incorporated under the Corporations Act (including a company limited by guarantee)
  • an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation registered under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006
  • a NSW public research organisation applying through its appropriate technology transfer office or the Chief Executive Officer (or equivalent) of the research organisation that will become a separate entity before entering into a legally binding funding agreement with DEIT.
  • an individual who agrees to form such an entity so that DEIT can enter into a legally binding funding agreement.

Who is not eligible to apply?  

You are not eligible to apply for the Program if you are:

  • insolvent
  • an individual
  • a partnership
  • an unincorporated association
  • a Commonwealth, state, territory or local government agency or body excluding government corporate entities.

OCSE, at its sole discretion, may decide that an application is ineligible for funding. This may include any person or business activity that could cause reputational and/or other risks to the NSW Government.

Can I apply for more than one challenge?

Yes, you can apply for more than one challenge. You will need to complete a separate application for each challenge.

What technologies and services does the NHTP program support? 

The NHTP program is focused on supporting innovative technologies and services that:

  • Offer technology solutions to challenges faced by NSW agencies in the management of natural hazards
  • Allow NSW businesses field-test their innovative technologies with agencies in an operational environment to help identify future technology capabilities.

Solutions may include physical systems but also software applications and processes.

What are eligible grant activities? 

For a grant activity to be eligible it must directly relate to the project and can include:

  • building and providing extra units of the technology
  • specific professional expertise (for example, a drone pilot, technical specialist, business development or commercialisation expert)
  • training of NSW Government personnel as part of the trial/pilot
  • costs to integrate technology with NSW Government ICT platforms
  • data analysis and/or management costs.

Who will hold the intellectual property rights in my solution? 

Grant recipients will retain intellectual property rights and the right to sell in domestic and global markets.

What is the application process? 

Applicants submit the following via SmartyGrants:

(a) An application, answering all questions in full and within the word limit

(b) A video presentation no longer than five minutes

(c) Profit-and-loss statements from the last two years

(d) Balance sheets from the last two years

(e) A project budget

(f) Evidence of required insurances.

OCSE will confirm that applications meet the eligibility criteria.

Eligible applications will be assessed by both the NSW Government agency that proposed the challenge and an independent panel of experts (Expert Panel) with experience in business development, commercialisation, venture capital and entrepreneurship.

OCSE will notify all applicants of the outcome of the assessment process.

OCSE will execute funding agreements with successful applicants.

All applicants will be informed of the outcome of their application.

What is a good application? 

A good application will demonstrate:

  • an innovative bushfire device or system that aims to solve a well-defined problem
  • the potential to deliver significant economic, social and/or environmental benefit to NSW
  • the bushfire device or system has a strong technological and scientific basis and has a prototype or proof-of-concept already completed
  • the applicant has a strong competitive advantage
  • a clear commercialisation pathway
  • strong engagement with the NSW agencies/target market
  • that substantial project activity will be based in NSW
  • the project team and external partnerships will provide appropriate technological and/or scientific, business, and commercial expertise
  • a clear need for funding and targeted application of funding.

When do applications close? 

Applications for the NHTP closes at 10:00 AEDT 14 March 2024.

What are the assessment criteria? 

Applications will be evaluated against the following assessment criteria, which weighted:

Solution (30 points)

(a) Suitability of the proposed solution

(b) Technical and trial readiness

(c) Level of innovation.

Delivery (30 points)

(a) Skills and experience

(b) Resources

(c) Project Plan.

Commercial (20 points)

(a) Commercialisation Plan

(b) Financial Resources.

Who will assess my application? 

OCSE will review applications against the NHTP program eligibility criteria. Eligible applications will be assessed by Panel. The membership of the Panel will include end user NSW agencies, independent experts with business, and technology innovation and commercialisation experience, and an independent Assessor from OCSE not be involved in the grant delivery.

Do I need to provide matched/in-kind funding?

There is no requirement for an applicant to provide matched funding. However, an applicant may choose to do so. Please include any matched funding in the project budget.

Should I contact the agency directly about their challenge?

To ensure neutrality during the application process, NSW Government agencies are not meeting individually with prospective applicants about the NHTP program or their challenge.

Can I apply if I already have funding from another source? 

Yes, you can apply if you already have received funding from another source(s).

However, you should clearly demonstrate in your application that any funding from the NSW Physical Sciences Fund (PSF), Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) Program and other NSW or other state or federal government grant programs does not duplicate activities requested under the NTHP program.

What is the definition of "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 Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) register or state government business registries to verify that the company, organisation or entity’s registered office address is in NSW.

If a company has an international ownership structure but Australian headquarters in NSW, can they apply?

Australian subsidiaries of international companies are considered ineligible for this Program.

What is the Technology Readiness Level (TRL)?

The TRL estimates the maturity of an innovation by considering the technological concepts and requirements and demonstrated capabilities of your innovation.

The NHTP considers projects for trial or pilot of technologies that are at a minimum TRL of 6.

An eligible project will have a demonstrated performance in the laboratory or relevant environment that requires further testing and support before it can be launched to market.

Do eligible costs include hiring staff to fill a skills gap during the grant period? 

Yes, labour expenditure for temporary employment for the project or costs associated with engaging specific expertise required are eligible costs, if it can be demonstrated that they are directly related to the project and will be incurred within the project period.

For university applicants, are the profit-loss statements for the host university? 

For university applicants, it is not necessary to submit profit-loss statements for the host university. Instead, please focus on and provide information about your spinout process, including your company information, financial viability of the business model and any licencing agreements to satisfy this requirement. Noting that if successful, university applicants must become a separate entity before entering into a legally binding funding agreement with the Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade (DEIT).

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.

I have another question.

For more information, please contact us at grants@chiefscientist.nsw.gov.au or call 02 9228 5765.