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Advertorial: Grant helps sort out Australia’s water resources

The efficient and wise use of Australia’s precious water resources is a priority for Tom Rooney, founder of water brokerage company Waterfind. Using his knowledge of water broking, Rooney gathered a team of specialists to develop a purpose-built online water trading system that brings together and automates the complex and varied trading rules and regulations of different water markets.

"Waterfind provides water trading services to irrigators, and the system provides farmers with choice, transparency of information, and a mechanism that makes it easier and quicker for them to find water,” explains Rooney. "One of the major benefits that water trading provides is assisting to sort out water resource issues such as over allocation. Well organised reallocation of water resources can limit the effects of drought for farmers, and on an even bigger scale can help Australia deal with the effects of climate change."

Currently the online system automates information about resources, trading rules and regulations of many of the major water markets in NSW, Victoria and South Australia. This includes all the major irrigation districts in the three states and allows for buying and selling of water allocations.

"The system helps minimise the paperwork involved, and in developing our system we also developed common market terminology to simplify the water trading process even further," says Rooney. "The Murray River market covers three States which each have different rules and requirements for trading water. The Waterfind system automates all of these localised rules and requirements,” he explains.

Waterfind has grown from a workforce of three to 28 after receiving a $94,000 grant under the Commercialising Emerging Technologies (COMET) program in 2005. "The COMET grant gave us a really good start. With guidance from the professional COMET business adviser, we achieved the milestones required by the grant as well as developing important business practices,” says Rooney. "We put effort into managing the requirements of the grant. Following a strict budget process was important to ensure we had used the whole grant along the way and didn’t end up with a lump sum at the end of the grant period,” Rooney adds. "The experience will help us manage grants we might apply for in the future."

Waterfind is now working towards developing more online tools and resources for clients, and increasing the scope of water markets to its current stock. "We are constantly looking to add new surface and groundwater markets to our system, which means having to constantly update and add new information."

COMET is a competitive grant program that helps early stage growth companies, spin-off companies and individuals commercialise their innovations. The program also provides access to private sector business advisers and tailored services to help improve management skills and attract capital and partners. Grants between $5000 and $120,000 are offered to successful applicants, and projects are supported for up to two years.

AusIndustry is the Australian Government’s business program delivery division in the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research. AusIndustry delivers a range of more than 30 business programs—including innovation grants, tax and duty concessions, small business development, industry support and venture capital—worth about $2 billion to more than 10,000 businesses and 80,000 individuals every year.

For more information, visit www.ausindustry.gov.au , call 13 28 46 or email hotline@ausindustry.gov.au

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