Featured image above: Research startups pitch at the ON Accelerate demo night. Hovermap have developed intelligent software that will allow drones to map indoor environments.
There are now over 30 accelerator and incubator programs in Australia, but CSIRO’s ON accelerator is the only one focused on equipping research startups with the tools they need to grow.
“It’s the first time a program of this sort has been offered for the research community on this scale,” says Elizabeth Eastland, the General Manager for Strategy, Market Vision and Innovation at CSIRO.
Just six months ago, Eastland was the Director of the University of Wollongong’s iAccelerate program, but moved to CSIRO having been “blown away by what this program can offer researchers”.
At the ON Accelerate Demo event held on Thursday 7 July, Eastland introduced 11 research startups who pitched their products to Sydney’s venture capital investors. In contrast to the young faces that dominate many of Australia’s accelerators, last night’s ON cohort were led by experienced researchers, engineers, developers and entrepreneurs.
Two of the research startups revealed big plans for the agriculture industry. A group called Future Feed is selling seaweed supplements that aim to reduce livestock greenhouse gas emissions by 80%. Another team has created wireless trapping technology to help farmers detect fruit fly infestations.
Fruit Fly costs farmers US$30 billion in fruit and vegetable production around the world, but this isn’t the only global challenge that the ON research startups have been tackling. The presenter from Modular Photonics pointed out last night that the world’s internet demand is about to outstrip its fibre capacity.
His group is commercialising new photonics hardware compatible with both old internet fibre and the new fibre being developed by the top telecommunications providers.
On the health front, another of the research startups, ePAT unveiled new facial recognition software to detect pain levels in people who cannot speak, such as children and elderly people with moderate to severe dementia. Their vision is that “no patient who cannot speak will suffer in silence in pain”.
ON Accelerate had major success earlier this year when a German company launched a gluten free beer brewed from barley commercialised by a startup from last year’s ON cohort. That startup, known as Kebari, is in now the process of developing another form of gluten free grain for use in food.
Kebari co-founder and scientist Dr Phil Larkin spoke at yesterday’s research startups event, saying ON Accelerate had taught him about ‘flearning’ – learning from failure – and the importance of interrogating the entire delivery chain to validate the value of a solution.
CSIRO Principal Research Scientist and RapidAIM team leader Dr Nancy Shellhorn said that the program had given her much faster access to the market and much better insight into customer needs.
“It’s given me and the RapidAIM team a runway to the science of the future that will be truly impactful,” said Shellhorn.
Program Mentor Martin Duursma also spoke at the research startups event, saying that startup skills are very transferable to research teams because they are all about trying something, gathering feedback, making improvements and repeating the process.
“Startup skills are really just a variant of the scientific method,” said Duursma.
And scientists will have greater access to the ON research startups program next year, with a dramatic increase in the interest of universities. Eastland says that 21 of Australia’s 40 universities have now signed on to be ON partners. Macquarie University and Curtin University led the pack with their involvement this year. UNSW Australia, the University of Technology Sydney and Monash University are among those jumping on board for the next round.
– Elise Roberts
ON Accelerate Research Startups
The below information was first shared by CSIRO. Read the original list and team members here.
The future of asset inspection.
“Every year, Australia loses billions of dollars due to infrastructure failures, spends billions of dollars on inspecting its aging assets and loses some of its bravest men and women who take the risk to do this dull and dangerous job. Utility companies and governments are turning to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to reduce costs and improve safety. However, current UAVs are ‘dumb and blind’ so require expert pilots and can’t fly in many places.
Our solution is an intelligent UAV with advanced collision avoidance, non-GPS flight and accurate 3D mapping capabilities – all tailored to suit industrial inspection requirements. Hovermap is the ultimate inspection tool of the future that can be used to safely and efficiently inspect hard-to-reach assets and collect extremely high fidelity data in previously unreachable places. It is suitable for inspecting telecommunication towers, bridges, power line assets and smoke stacks. This innovative technology will reduce risks, improve safety and efficiency and lower costs, all of which benefit customers and businesses.”
Changing the face of polymers.
“We change the face of polymers by embedding functional particles into the surface to give them new and useful properties. Our patented technology paves the way for development of many new, innovative materials and products.
An immediate area of application is to protect high-value marine sensors from biofouling. The unwanted growth of marine organisms causes signal attenuation, sensor malfunction, increased weight and unwanted drag due to ocean currents. There are many thousands of marine sensors deployed globally, costing up to $120K each, which require frequent cleaning to keep them in service.
Suricle are focusing on treating adhesive polymer films with antifouling properties for attachment to sensors to mitigate biofouling. Kits containing this film will be sold via our e-commerce store for application in the field by the end-users, offering savings of thousands of dollars per year in reduced maintenance costs.”
Supporting and growing global fruit and vegetable export markets
“Fruit Fly are the number one biosecurity issue in fruit and vegetable production. Globally US$30b worth of fruit and vegetable production is lost due to fruit fly, and $US18b in global trade is threatened by the pest.
Millions of fruit fly traps across the globe are checked manually, causing delay and risking outbreaks. This can close markets!
RapidAIM is a new era in biosecurity. We provide a service of real-time alerts for the presence and location of fruit fly using wireless trapping technology. This immediate data-driven decision service allows biosecurity agencies, growers and agronomists to respond rapidly to fruit fly detection to control the pest.
This allows for targeted workflow, the protection of existing markets and supports the development of new trading opportunities.”
Predictive data analytics for preventative maintenance of infrastructure assets including water
“Each year 7,000 critical water main breaks occur in Australia resulting in billions of dollars in rectification and consequence cost. In contrast, the cost of preventative maintenance is only 10 per cent of the reactive repair cost. The ExByte team has developed a disruptive technology that uses data analytic techniques to predict failure probability based on learned patterns, offering a solution to accurately predict water pipe failures resulting in effective preventative maintenance and a reduction in customer interruptions.”
5. Future Feed
A natural feed additive from seaweed that dramatically reduces livestock methane and increases production.
“The world is under increasing pressure to produce more food and producing more food is contributing to climate change. Livestock feed supplementation with FutureFeed is the solution. It can improve farm profitability and tackles climate change. FutureFeed can also provide farmers access to other income streams through carbon markets and provide access to premium niche markets through a low carbon footprint and environmentally friendly product.”
An energy efficiency product that empowers households to understand and reduce their energy consumption.
“It is very difficult for households to improve their energy efficiency and transition to a sustainable future as current solutions are boring, costly and confusing. Elumin8 solves this problem by providing tailored energy information via a unique communication channel, allowing homeowners to directly engage with their home in a human and personable way as though it was another member of the family. Elumin8 also guides the household step by step along the journey to energy independence by improving energy efficiency and taking the risk and confusion out of installing solar and batteries.
We do this by collecting electricity data from a single sensor and use unique algorithms to disaggregate the data and determine appliance level consumption. Social media applications and advanced analytics are then utilised to connect the homeowner with their home allowing instant and humanised communication to ensure they are engaged with their energy use.”
An online face-to-face business transaction platform.
“The way we work is changing. We need tools to enable those changes.
Traditional video conferencing tools are clunky and do not support experts like coaches, clinicians or lawyers in delivering and charging for their professional services online.
Coviu is the solution. Professionals get a frictionless and easy-to-use solution for setting up online consulting rooms and invite clients to rich interactive consults. One click and your client is talking to you in their browser – no software installations, no complicated call setup.
Coviu is a groundbreaking new video and data conferencing technology that works peer-to-peer allowing for massive scalability, speed and affordability.”
A process that helps mining companies proactively manage community sentiment before conflict occurs.
“When resources companies lose the trust of the communities they work alongside, conflict occurs. Projects take twice as long to develop as they did a decade ago and cost 30 per cent more than they should because of social conflict. Companies don’t have the tools to systematically understand what their communities think about them, and communities have few constructive ways to feel heard.
Reflexivity has solved this problem by providing our customers with a sophisticated data analytic engine that translates community survey data we collect into prioritised opportunities for trust building and risk mitigation strategies. Our analytics identify those factors that build and degrade trust in a company, in the minds of community members; our customers are then able to invest resources and energy into the issues that matter most. Using mobile technology, our data streams to our customers in real time via a subscription model.
We have engaged over 14,000 community members in eight countries, and generated $1.5m in revenue in the last three years. And while we started in mining, our process is valuable wherever these relationships are important. We are building a service delivery platform to scale up our process and we are seeking support and advice to turn our successful global research program into a successful global business.”
9. Meals by Design
Healthy convenience never tasted so good!
“Ready-to-eat convenience doesn’t have to result in dissatisfaction and guilt. By bringing together the latest innovations in food manufacturing, including High Pressure Thermal processing, and an understanding of the nutritional needs of a diverse population, cuisine favourites can be prepared in a convenient format without compromising eating satisfaction or, importantly, nutrition.
Meals by Design develops premium and customisable meal solutions that cater to nutritional and functional needs, offering healthy convenience without compromise.”
Real-time pain assessment through facial recognition technology for patients that cannot verbally communicate.
“Imagine you are in excruciating pain, but you can’t tell anyone. This is the reality for millions of non-communicative people world-wide, such as those with moderate to severe dementia. ePAT’s point of care apps utilise facial recognition technology to detect facial micro-expressions which are indicative of pain, to provide these people with a voice.”
11. Modular Photonics: big fast data
Passive fibre-optic technology that significantly increases data transmission capacity.
“Modular Photonics uses a novel integrated photonic chip to enhance the data rate across existing multimode fibre links by 10x and more. The technology enables multiple data channels in parallel without the length restrictions imposed by conventional multimode fibre links.”