Hopscotch Features and Jan Chapman’s Waking Dream Productions are among the 12 production companies that will receive a combined $7.8m (A$9m) under Screen Australia’s much touted Enterprise Program.

The funding is intended as investment in business and project development.There are no big surprises in the politically safe list of investments : all the players have had commercial or critical success; as a group the companies represent film, television and new media; all states are represented with the exception of South Australia; and the partnerships being supported are already in place rather than being forged in response to the initiative.

In at least five of the successful applicants – Waking Dream Productions, Scarlett Pictures, Warp Films Australia, Hopscotch Features and Goalpost Pictures – the money will principally be used for feature development but several of the television companies also have features on their slate.

Warp received $348,000 (A$400,000) over three years for development, the smallest amount given out, while Hopscotch was one of three companies that received $8.7m (A$1m). Warp and Goalpost have strong UK affiliations.

“We will be establishing a development arm that will secure distinct audience-pleasing properties but we will continue to actively work on television,” said Goalpost executive Rosemary Blight.

Clubland writer Keith Thompson is a key part of the plan, which will involve creatives learning from UK practices. Director Wayne Blair’s debut, The Sapphires, will remain the frontrunner on Goalpost’s slate.

Chapman (Bright Star) of Waking Dream will continue to develop her own projects and mentor up and comers, while Shelper (Samson & Delilah) of Scarlett Pictures will use the money to free her from making a living, instead concentrating on The Place Between, Beck Cole’s debut film, Father And The Son, Warwick Thornton’s follow-up to Samson & Delilah, and Chinese Whispers, which Liz Doran is currently working on at the Binger Lab in Amsterdam.

“My business plan made it very clear that I wanted to keep everything simple and costs low,” said Shelper. “We have developed a very lean and muscular method of production and development.”

The Enterprise Program is one of the flagship schemes of the 15-month-old Screen Australia and when chief executive Ruth Harley revealed the first beneficiaries today she said the program underpins the agency’s vision for a more commercially sustainable screen production industry.

The business plans of the companies, she said, incorporate such elements as diversification, raising private equity, new revenue streams, new alliances, innovative distribution, and interstate and international expansion.

“What they have in common is a strong vision of what they want to achieve and clear, carefully considered and well documented plans for the next stage of their development,” she said.

It has been a highly competitive and, at times, messy process: Screen Australia received 137 expressions of interest and 24 companies were shortlisted but only after two tranches of money were combined and deadlines changed, in part due to the demand. More money will be given to new players in 12 and 24 months time.

The companies are:

Cordell Jigsaw Productions (Michael Cordell, Nick Murray)

Essential Media & Entertainment (Chris Hilton, Ian Collie, Sonja Armstrong, CarmelTravers)

Goalpost Pictures Australia (Rosemary Blight, Kylie du Fresne, Ben Grant, Cass O’Connor)

Hoodlum (Tracey Robertson, Nathan Mayfield)

Hopscotch Features (TroyLum, Andrew Mason, John Collee, Frank Cox)

Matchbox Pictures (Helen Bowden, Penny Chapman, Tony Ayres, Michael McMahon, Helen Panckhurst)

Prospero Productions (Ed Punchard, Julia Redwood)

Renegade Films (Australia) (Joe Connor, Ken Connor)

Roar Film (Stephen Thomas, Kath Symmons, Craig J Dow Sainter)

Scarlett Pictures (Kath Shelper)

Waking Dream Productions (Jan Chapman)

Warp Films Australia(Anna McLeish, Mark Herbert, Robin Gutch)