Q&A with Commercialisation Facilitator Larry Weng

Larry Weng has many years’ experience in researching, developing and commercialising science and engineering technologies. His current role is part of the Australian Government’s Entrepreneurs’ Programme delivered in partnership with i4Connect. As an Accelerating Commercialisation Facilitator, he provides small and medium businesses, entrepreneurs and researchers with access to expert advice and funding to help get innovative and novel products, processes and services to market.

Read on to find out more about the funding opportunities offered by i4Connect and Larry’s insights into the commercialisation process.

How long have you been a Commercialisation Facilitator and how did you come to be in this role? 

I have been with i4 Connect (the delivery partner of the Entrepeneurs’ Programme Accelerating Commercialisation service) for almost three years.  I had a positive experience with the predecessor of Accelerating Commercialisation with my technology startup many years back, and I greatly appreciated the value of the facilitator at the time. When Accelerating Commercialisation was looking for Commercialisation Facilitators, I put my hand up and was fortunate to get the role. 

What part of your role do you enjoy most?  

The most enjoyable part is the journey I go through with the applicant throughout the whole grant process.  Starting from the preparation of the application, where I help them to articulate their value propositions clearly, and then through to the due diligence stage, where I interview their commercial partners/customers, to making meaningful connections utilising my personal and Government networks. 

What resources would you recommend to someone looking to commercialise their product or invention? 

Government assistance, such as R&D Tax Incentives, and relevant grant services.  Some programs, such as Accelerating Commercialisation, would include dedicated Commercialisation Facilitators as consultants at no cost.

How significant has commercialisation funding been in terms of contributing to innovation in Queensland? 

Between 2014 and 2022, almost 150 Queensland startups have received Accelerating Commercialisation grants with a total amount over $80 million. Since Accelerating Commercialisation provides matched funding, it means that over $160 million went into developing novel products or services. 

A few recent examples of Accelerating Commercialisation grantees’ success stories:

Queensland startup Clipchamp acquired by Microsoft (smartcompany.com.au)

CitrusAd sold for $205m: Former AFL star Brad Moran sells to Publicis Groupe (afr.com)

What is one mistake you have seen entrepreneurs make repeatedly during your career? 

One common mistake I have seen is entrepreneurs not making the absolute best effort to understand their target customers’ real needs.  Some entrepreneurs would focus on developing the product or service without thoroughly knowing their customer’s pain points, how much they are willing to pay to remove the pains and/or the real value of solving the pain points.  They would develop the products and then realise the difficulties to sell to the target market.

What advice would you give to an emerging business?  

Avoid making the mistake mentioned above!  And look into available government assistance such as Accelerating Commercialisation and other grants that support innovations and entrepreneurs.

Any final thoughts or advice for those seeking funding?

It is worth noting that the Accelerating Commercialisation grant is highly competitive.  The applicants must demonstrate strong technology novelty and customer interest (backed by evidence) for a competitive application.  I encourage founders considering applying to reach out to AusIndustry or their local Commercialisation Facilitator to have a chat first.  I am always open for a quick chat over coffee.

If you’d like to learn more about the Accelerating Commercialisation program, i4 Connect hosts a webinar every week which includes a live Q&A with Commercialisation Facilitators. Register here: Accelerating Commercialisation – Information Session Tickets, Multiple Dates | Eventbrite

To learn further about the types of companies that i4 Connect works with, you can explore a variety of client case studies on our website: www.i4connect.com.au/news/