International researchers are being encouraged to look to Australia to work with small and medium sized businesses to develop innovative products and services.

Grants are being made available through the Global Connections Fund (GCF) which is part of the Australian Government's national innovation and science agenda with some $4.9 million available.

The money will go to international partners working with Australian small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with priming grants of $7,000 to enable them to meet and collaborate with international partners to progress their ideas.

'Linking Australian SMEs with international researchers, and Australian researchers with international SMEs, allows greater international industry-researcher engagement, enabling access to world-class expertise, infrastructure and the global market,' said Arthur Sinodinos, Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science.

The GCF is comprised of two types of grants: priming grants and bridging grants. In 2016 the Government awarded more than $1.1 million in grants under the two components. Under round one of the priming grants some 74 Australian SMEs and researchers received assistance to develop products and services for Australian and international markets.

Bridging grants of up to $50,000 are designed as seed funding capital to enable viable projects to grow in scope and scale, and to test commercialisation and proof of concept activities. There were 14 projects awarded in the first round of bridging grants.

Meanwhile there are concerns that American President Donald Trump's tough stance on immigration and visas could affect grants involving American companies and researchers.

Group of Eight chief executive Vicki Thomson has been in Washington for meetings with US funding agencies as universities in her group receive grants for collaborative research from US funding giants such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

The Go8 is worried that Australia's medical research effort could suffer were the Trump administration to insist that all NIH grants be awarded at home in the US. Last year the Go8 received $US6.7 million for joint US-Australia research projects.

The NSF funded landmark research collaboration such as the gravitational wave detector LIGO, which involved international collaboration including about 60 researchers from the Go8.