Researchers and businesses around the world should be able to connect better and collaborate with counterparts in Australia.

A series of grants have been announced to encourage smaller and medium sized companies and local researchers to partner with international businesses as part of Australia's National Innovation and Science Agenda programme.

Wine-GrapesThe latest announcement includes $660,000 in commercialisation grants for 14 projects in sectors related to the Government's Industry Growth Centres of advanced manufacturing, food and agribusiness, medical technology and pharmaceuticals, mining equipment, technology and services and oil, gas and energy resources.

'This funding will support Australian businesses to be globally competitive, helping them to commercialise their products by collaborating with researchers overseas,' said industry, innovation and science minister Greg Hunt.

'It will also support Australian researchers to work with international businesses to solve problems in industry and the community, with benefits flowing through to Australia,' he added.

Australian researchers will partner with companies from China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Spain and the United States, while Australian companies will work with researchers from the Czech Republic, France, Italy, the UK and the US.

Grants totalling $662,608 have been awarded, with individual grants ranging from $35,000 to $50,000.

Examples of collaboration include and Australia/India partnership to develop an eco-friendly control for powdery mildew and downy mildew control, two diseases that devastate grapes in both countries involved in the project.

An Australian/ US partnership is creating a prototype hardware and software system to assess the progress of victims of spinal cord injury and other neuromuscular conditions, as they undergo rehabilitation. Another between these two countries is developing smart sensor networks that communicate data about the structural health of civil engineering projects, with applications in construction, transportation, mining, water treatment and security.

A partnership with France is creating technologies for the development of superfast, low cost and selective gas sensors with the capability of sensing/detecting explosives, drugs, air and food quality while one with Italy is investigating a new method for healing micro cracks in roads using waste products from the mining industry.

'This funding will allow these successful projects to grow in scope and scale, and to test commercialisation and proof of concept. Supporting collaboration between Australian and international researchers and businesses is a key element of the Government's $1.1 billion National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA),' Hunt explained.