Technology Clusters are ‘Geographic concentrations of interconnected companies, specialised suppliers, service providers, firms in related industries and associated institutions … in particular fields that compete but also cooperate.’ Many studies (see: European observatory for clusters and industrial change) have shown that dynamic clusters enhance economic development and accelerate:
Supply chain and technology development is being accelerated in many countries through clustering initiatives that closely align businesses around common agendas, addressing both opportunities for and impediments to growth. For example, Perth is home to a large subsea innovation industry that formed to deliver technology and expertise to Western Australia’s offshore oil and gas sector. Through NERA’s seed funding and support, businesses from across the value-chain have connected to establish a formal cluster — Subsea Innovation Cluster Australia (SICA) — in order to build a community that strengthens collaboration, innovation and the market expansion of the Australia subsea sector.
Many hydrogen-related technology clusters are already under development across Europe, Asia and the Americas, with cluster engagement being a key component of Europe’s Smart Specialisation’ strategy. Development of technology clusters centres on identifying regional strengths and then establishing collaborative growth partnerships across the value chain, led by industry with support from relevant government agencies, research partners and universities. Close interaction and exchanges amongst cluster members – who tend to be geographically proximate — underpins competition and also stimulates innovation.
NERA has demonstrated capability and experience in supporting the formation of clusters, with substantial learnings gained through the development of SICA and the Australian Ocean Energy Group (AOEG), which we will leverage to maximise each regional hydrogen technology cluster’s chances of success.
 Porter, M. E. ‘On Competition. Updated and Expanded Ed.’ Boston: Harvard Business School Publishing, 2008.
To facilitate the formation of these clusters, NERA will provide seed funding of up to $100,000 for emerging hydrogen technology clusters across Australia and is now seeking Expressions of Interest (EOIs) from interested parties.
This program encourages businesses, public agencies, researchers and educational institutions to align and work together, to build on their competitive advantage, address opportunities and develop solutions to challenges that they otherwise could not resolve on their own.
It is envisaged that representatives of the successful cluster applicants will help NERA establish the National Hydrogen Cluster virtual network as members of a national steering group.
In addition to financial assistance, NERA will offer:
An EOI can be submitted by a consortium or a single organisation with a project proposal that demonstrates a clear commitment and capability to establish and/or grow a hydrogen technology cluster in a specified region within Australia.
Consortium — Key requirements for a consortium are:
Single entity — Submissions can be made by single entities on the condition that the entity will be forming the cluster on behalf of a wider group of members and interested stakeholders. The applicant must hold an active ABN.
The awarding of funds will be dependent upon the quality of the EOI, the potential impact of the cluster, the number of high-quality applications and the amount of funding sought. Funding is limited so it is highly recommended that you engage with a NERA representative (email@example.com) prior to submitting an EOI application.
Clusters will be able to apply for up to $100,000 (excluding GST).
As seed funding, it is hoped that this initial NERA support will provide emerging clusters with sufficient time and resources to build momentum to leverage further funding, support and membership.
EOIs will address the following questions:
EOIs will be assessed based on the following selection criteria:
If not already in place, it is expected that a dedicated cluster manager will be appointed. The main role of the cluster manager is to connect the cluster stakeholders, to facilitate the development of the cluster’s forward agenda and to catalyse collaborative development activities.
Cluster funds may be used for activities directly related to the cluster, for example manager salary, office rent, consulting services, business equipment, and consumables for activities in Australia.
Reporting on the use of funds will be required by NERA from successful applicants.
NERA cluster funding will be payable by instalments as agreed with NERA and will link to agreed milestones.
The Cluster Funding Agreement will include full details of the proposed cluster including scope, milestones, deliverables, funding opportunities, governance and oversight arrangements, and reporting requirements.
The terms and conditions of the funding and timing of instalments will be set out in the Cluster Funding Agreement between the project participants and NERA.
When a Cluster Funding Agreement is fully executed, NERA reserves the right to publicly report on the progress and outcomes of the cluster, consulting with the cluster partners prior to doing so.
The following process and timeframe will be applied to reviewing, selecting and approving cluster proposals from NERA’s Regional Hydrogen Technology Cluster Seed Funding Program.
1 September 2020 –
Applications open — The process includes a short EOI template that is completed online. This forms the basis of the cluster proposal which will be used to assess eligibility.
16 September 2020
Regional Hydrogen Technology Clusters webinar — NERA will deliver a 1-hour webinar to provide background on clusters and the seed funding program, explain the EOI process and address questions.
15 October 2020 –
EOIs will be evaluated by NERA, who may seek specialised assistance. Further information and supporting material may be requested by NERA when developing a shortlist. Shortlisted applicants may be required to present their EOI to a NERA selection panel.
2 November 2020 –
Successful applicants will be notified and sent a draft Cluster Seed Funding Agreement with NERA.
|30 November 2020||While NERA acknowledges that contractual discussions can take some time, NERA is aiming to have Cluster Seed Funding Agreements fully executed by all parties by the end of November 2020. Funding arrangements cannot commence until a Cluster Seed Funding Agreement is in place. Failure to enter into an agreement in a reasonable timeframe may result in withdrawal of the offer by NERA.|
EOI submissions are to be provided using an online form. The form has mandatory fields. Please ensure you are able to describe your application in a clear, succinct way.
The form will allow for up to three attachments at the end of the application.
NERA will not disclose EOI contents and EOI information, except:
No legal relationship will be created between NERA and any successful applicant unless a binding Cluster Funding Agreement is executed by both parties.
NERA reserves the right, in its absolute discretion at any time, to vary or extend any time or date specified for an EOI round and can amend these guidelines and EOI terms and conditions. These guidelines do not form any legal arrangement between NERA and any other party.
Questions about EOIs should be directed to NERA at firstname.lastname@example.org and a relevant representative will be in contact.