Top 10 Science Meets Business Innovations

August 24, 2017

Now in their 27th year, the Cooperative Research Centres are leading innovation outcomes in Australia, reports Penny Pryor.

Featured image above: Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis 

1 THE CURE

TECHNOLOGY/PROGRAM: PRMT5 inhibitors

IMPACT: The Cancer Therapeutics CRC (CTx), with its UK-based commercialisation partner, Cancer Research Technology, has licensed rights to a program of small molecule drugs called PRMT5 inhibitors to MSD (Merck in the US and Canada) in a multimillion-dollar deal. PRMT5 drugs have clinical potential in both cancer and non-cancer blood disorders. The deal involved an upfront payment of $21 million and potential payments in excess of $700 million. A minimum of 70% of those payments will be returned to CTx.

Cancer Therapeutics CRC


2 INNOVATION IN EXPLORATION

TECHNOLOGY/PROGRAM: RoXplorer®

IMPACT: The new RoXplorer® will help access previously hard to locate greenfields (unchartered) mineral deposits beneath the barren surface rocks, which obscure mineralised rocks in about 80% of Australia. RoXplorer® will drill at around one sixth the cost of conventional diamond drilling techniques and be much safer. This will help reverse a two decades old trend which has seen Australia’s share of the world’s expenditure on mineral exploration drop from one quarter to one eighth.

Deep Exploration Technology CRC


3 SAVING EVERY DROP

TECHNOLOGY/PROGRAM: Aquarevo

IMPACT: Each of the 44 homes in Australia’s first water sensitive community, Aquarevo, in Lyndhurst, Victoria, requires approximately 70% less mains water than a regular suburban house. The homes catch, filter and treat most of their own water supply. Houses are plumbed with three types of water – drinking, recycled and rainwater – which means drinking water won’t
be flushed down the toilet. The project was developed in conjunction with Villawood properties and South East Water.

CRC for Water Sensitive Cities


4 DRIVING ON EMPTY

TECHNOLOGY/PROGRAM: eBus

IMPACT: A partnership of the AutoCRC, Swinburne University of Technology’s Electric Vehicle Laboratory and Bustech (part of Transit Australia Group), this is the first electric bus to be designed, engineered and manufactured in Australia. The buses are, on average, 80% cheaper to maintain than the current diesel buses. Each seat has a USB charger for mobile devices and the buses seat 50 passengers. Late last year, Bustech signed a deal to produce buses for the South Australian government.

Excellerate Australia (Automotive Australia 2020 CRC)


5 THE DEMISE OF CASH

TECHNOLOGY/PROGRAM: digi.cash

IMPACT: digi.cash is a system that allows the issuing and circulation of many different kinds of electronic cash. It can be stored on phones, computers or an external storage drive like a USB and can be sent the same way as any other file. The digi.cash founder Andreas Furche says it is “much faster than Blockchain-based so-called cryptocurrencies, and much better suited for centrally issued financial instruments, like national currencies, or shares”.

Capital Markets CRC digi.cash


6 SAFETY FIRST

TECHNOLOGY/PROGRAM: “If It’s Flooded, Forget it” campaign

IMPACT: Multimedia communications encouraging specific behaviour during disasters can be challenging. The BNHCRC has proven that use of the right visual imagery in official emergency warning communications assist people to act appropriately. Early versions of the “If it’s Flooded, Forget it” preparedness campaign inadvertently showed people engaged in “exactly the activity that we are trying to prevent” according to QUT’s Professor Vivienne Tippett, who is a BNHCRC lead researcher. New versions of the campaign involve a 4WD coming to a flooded waterway and deciding not to drive through, “the behaviour we’re trying to encourage”.

Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC


7 SWIMMING UPSTREAM

TECHNOLOGY/PROGRAM: Carp bio-control virus

IMPACT: Carp are one of the worst introduced freshwater aquatic species in Australia with an economic impact estimated at up to $500 million per year. A new carp bio-control virus with potential to kill up to 95% of individual carp is ready to be released.  “Ten years of CRC research has basically given the answer the carp bio-control agent is safe and useable,” says Invasive Animals CRC communications manager, Ian McDonald. The virus will be most effective in the first couple of years of use.

Invasive animals CRC


8 AIMING HIGH

TECHNOLOGY/PROGRAM: International collaboration on laser signals

IMPACT: In collaboration with the Japanese space agency, JAXA, researchers from the CRC for Space Environment Management sent a beam of light, via an electro-optic laser from Mt Stromlo in Canberra, 6.7 million km away to an accelerating Japanese satellite called Hayabusa 2. It showed that a laser of this capacity can reach space debris in near-Earth orbit and is a significant step towards being able to more accurately track and eventually manoeuvre space debris (see “Shining a light on space debris”).

CRC for Space Environment Management 


9 FIGHTING MORE THAN FIRES

TECHNOLOGY/PROGRAM: Assessing measurement of toxic chemicals

IMPACT: PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate) and PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) are common toxic synthetic fluorinated chemicals. While being phased out, they are still encountered in fire-fighting chemicals. The National Measurement Institute collaborated with EPA Victoria on a CRC CARE project to conduct Australia’s first proficiency studies for these contaminants. These studies are an important tool for assessing contamination.

CRC CARE


10 ON THIN ICE

TECHNOLOGY/PROGRAM: Totten Glacier thinning

IMPACT: Taking advantage of a long crack that opened up in sea ice (which is normally impenetrable to ships), ACE CRC researchers used Australia’s icebreaker Aurora Australis to confirm that the Totten Glacier, East Antarctica’s largest glacier, is melting from below as warm ocean water reaches the ice shelf. Totten has the highest basal melt rate among Eastern Antarctic ice shelves and contains enough ice to raise global sea levels by about 3.5m if it melted completely.

 Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems CRC

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One thought on “Designing the future”

  1. Great article Craig – somehow we also need to convince politicians, university executives and researchers that co-creative innovative endeavours with an iterative interventionist methodology and evaluation process tied in should qualify for at least the same recognition and in terms of points earned in ERA for instance as the accepted more traditional applied science domains and the so-called ‘blue sky’ discovery-based research

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