On communicating with the Commonwealth

The big news in my life is that this year I will be plunging into the heady world of business with my first startup, Robojar.

Actually, that’s a bit of a lie. What I’m actually doing is getting into the water as carefully as possible, whilst wincing as each tender part is exposed to the bracing chill of an unloving reality.

While in Perth I worked on my first investment pitch and sought feedback from family. One family member is involved in Serious Business and had some excellent suggestions to give, including talking to various commercialisation outfits.

Of the four potential groups we identified:

  1. The NT Government is only really interested in quite local businesses,
  2. CDU doesn’t really have a commercialisation arm,
  3. UWA’s commercialisation office were very helpful but said that commercialising undergraduate work is not really their thing, leaving
  4. Commercialisation Australia, a division of AusIndustry, a division of the Department of Who Knows What They’re Calling Themselves This Week, a Ministry of the Crown in Right of the Commonwealth of Australia

(I may have goosed up the last bit).

I intend absolutely to apply to Commercialisation Australia, if only to give more ammunition to people who remember that I’m a bit of a libertard. However I decided first that it would be helpful to talk to one of their professionals. So I sent this email:

Subject: Is there a Darwin office?

I’m interested in applying for the Skills and Knowledge
program. Do you have a Darwin office I could visit?



A few days later I received this:

FW: Is there a Darwin office? [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]

Hi Jacques,

Thankyou for your email.

To meet with one of the Commercialisation Australia Case Managers, you must first complete a Stage 1 Application Form. Completing a Stage 1 Application form will help determine the eligibility and merit of your application. A Case Manager will then review the Stage 1 Application Form and contact you with advice on your project proposal and, where appropriate, provide you with a copy of the Commercialisation Australia Stage 2 Application Form.

If you feel that it is not appropriate to complete the Stage 1 Application Form at this point in time, please contact the Commercialisation Australia hotline on 13 22 56 and you will be referred to your nearest Case Manager who can have a discussion with you about whether Commercialisation Australia can assist you. They can also discuss other programs and services offered by AusIndustry, the primary program delivery division in the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education.
Kind regards,

[Name of helpful person with what seems to be a very senior role redacted]

So that’s what they’re called.

I can’t fault that they have a process to be followed, but if I want to know if there’s a Darwin office, I can apply. Or alternatively I can ask to see a Case Manager first … and then find out where they are.

Sometimes, you have to wonder.

Update: 3 minutes on the phone with the hotline establishes that a) no, they don’t have a Darwin office (was that so hard?) and b) they really, really mean it when they say they want the Level 1 Application filled out first.

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