National Soil Carbon Innovation Challenge - Development and Demonstration Round 2

The second round of applications for Development and Demonstration grants for the National Soil Carbon Innovation Challenge is now open. This initiative is a key aspect of the broader National Soil Carbon Innovation Challenge program, which aims to encourage the development of lower-cost and accurate technological solutions for soil carbon measurement. Its goal is to promote greater participation in carbon farming practices to meet the government’s legislated commitment to lower carbon emissions by 43 per cent by 2030. The program also aligns with the goals set out in the National Soil Strategy.

Specific objectives of the Development and Demonstration Grant is to:

  • Fast-track the development and commercial readiness of low-cost and accurate technology solutions to measure and estimate soil carbon stocks, to a standard that could support greater participation in Australian Carbon Credit Unit (ACCU) projects.
  • Validate and demonstrate the effectiveness of technology solutions in Australian operational environments
  • Engage and collaborate with landholders to ensure technology solutions can be used in a cost-effective way within diverse farm management operations
  • Leverage co-investment to develop, validate and demonstrate the technology solutions.

What is included in the Development and Demonstration grants?

The Development and Demonstration grants will allocate a total of $20 million over two years, providing funding between $100,000 and $5 million to Australian researchers, start-ups, AgTech companies, and other carbon or soil service providers. The grant aims to support proof of concept activities that enhance feasibility studies, test solutions through on-farm trials and develop working prototypes or demonstrations. Available funding will cover up to 80 per cent of the eligible project expenditure.

Upon acceptance, successful applicants will receive the full grant amount upon entering into a grant agreement with the Commonwealth Government.

A summary of the specific eligibility criteria and targeted activities can be found below.

Eligibility criteria

To be eligible, you must:

  • Have an Australian Business Number (ABN)
  • Be one of the following:
    • An entity incorporated in Australia
    • A co-operative
    • An incorporated trustee on behalf of a trust
    • A publicly funded research organisation
    • An Australian State or Territory Government agency or body.

Eligible projects must include proof of concept, validation, or early-stage commercialisation activities relating to the development of a technological solution that has the potential to provide lower cost, accurate soil carbon measurement, and have at least $125,000 in expenditure.

Eligible activities must include at least one of the following:

  • Using your technology solution to measure and/or predict soil organic carbon accurately and at low-cost, in Australian operational environments
  • Proof of concept activities to build on your feasibility study, test the performance of your solution through lab or on-farm trials in Australia and produce working prototypes or demonstrations
  • Determining the nature, functionality, and capabilities of your solution to measure and/or predict soil organic carbon accurately compared to any similar existing products or services and their corresponding abilities
  • Validation activities to develop a lower-cost, accurate technological solution for soil carbon measurement, in Australian operational environments
  • Early stage commercialisation and/or product design activities including, but not limited to, optimising product characteristics, assessing and reducing cost of manufacture and conducting marketing activities
  • Collecting and providing validation data on soil carbon stocks and soil samples, to contribute to national soil datasets to support further innovation and improve knowledge of quantifying soil carbon under different management practices
  • Publishing (or submitting for publication) the outcomes of validation and demonstration activities in a peer-reviewed publication
  • Presenting or otherwise disseminating project data and outcomes to improve knowledge of quantifying soil carbon under different management practices
  • Engaging and collaborating with landholders to ensure technology solutions, including any products or services, can be used in a cost-effective way within diverse land management operations.

Additional required activities may also be approved, provided one or more of the above are undertaken.

Merit criteria are equally weighted regarding:

  • How the proposed solution meets the challenge and provides a lower-cost, accurate soil carbon measurement
  • The market potential for the proposed solution
  • Your capability, capacity, and resources to deliver the project.

A smaller weighting is also given to the merit criteria of the impact of the funding. This considers aspects such as the impact of funding on the project scope, predicted environmental, social, scientific, and technological outcomes, and any wider benefits associated with the project.

When do applications for round 2 of the Development and Demonstration grants close?

Applications for this grant opportunity will close at 5.00pm (AEDT), 11 April 2023. For more information about the grant, please contact our R&D team or submit an enquiry here.