Tag Archives: BHP Billiton

science and engineering awards

Young innovators of BHP Foundation Science and Engineering Awards 2019

From left: Mitchell Torok (joint winner in Engineering), Macinley Butson (winner in Investigations and the Innovator to Market award) and Isaac Brain (joint winner in Engineering).

The Science and Engineering awards ceremony took place on 5 February and highlights the achievements of secondary students from around the country. This year’s best projects includes a SMART device designed to reduce excess dosage and side effects of radiotherapy in breast cancer patients, a sticker that checks whether solar disinfected water is biologically safe to drink, and a fall-detecting smart watch designed to monitor the wellbeing of elderly patients in nursing care.

The annual Science and Engineering awards are a collaboration between the CSIRO, BHP Foundation and the Australian Science Teachers Association (ASTA). The awards have three categories; Investigations, Engineering, and Innovator to Market. To qualify for the awards, students must first win an ASTA competition, such as the Young Scientist Awards for NSW.

Each category awards a first place winner, who will receive a prize of $4000. These three first place winners, one from each category, will have the chance to later compete in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) in the USA in May.

Read the profiles of the student winners at www.careerswithSTEM.com.au.

innovation

Innovation breathes new life into old business

Featured image above: the Minister of Industry, Innovation and Science delivering his address at the AFR National Innovation Summit 

Innovating isn’t just about creating new businesses – it’s also about transforming the old.

This message formed the crux of the Hon Greg Hunt’s speech at the Australian Financial Review’s 2016 National Innovation Summit as he presented plans for his portfolio as Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science.

“Innovation is about the new firms absolutely, unequivocally…but also the existing firms,” said Hunt, insisting that the latter should be innovating through “new or improved goods or services, new processes or new business models.”

Pointing to Dulux, CSL, Telstra and BlueScope as examples of Australian veterans who are thriving through investments in R&D, the Minister warned that less-savvy business won’t be bailed out.

“We can’t prop up existing, failing services,” he said. “They have to be able to compete.”

The need for speed

According to other leaders at the AFR Innovation Summit, the window of opportunity is closing for some of Australia’s oldest and largest corporations.

Data61 CEO Adrian Turner says he returned to Australia after 18 years in Silicon Valley because he was concerned about Australia’s pace of change. He believes Australian businesses don’t have long to get on board the age of digital and data-led markets.

“We have a five to 10-year window,” says Adrian.

Chairman of the Australian Advanced Manufacturing Council, John Pollaers, pointed out that although the world has moved into the fourth industrial revolution – the merging of the physical and cyber worlds – many companies are still working their way through the second and third industrial revolutions of electrification, automation and IT.

“If we underestimate technology we will fail,” says Pollaers. “If we underestimate the resistance to change and innovation, then we’ll also fail.”

Maile Carnegie believes companies need to stop ‘hand-wringing’ and start taking action.

“Our financial institutions, if we don’t get them moving, are in for a world of hurt,” says the former Google MD, who recently joined ANZ as Group Exec of Digital Banking. “Banking is a massive data play – those industries are getting disrupted.”

“We know what we need to do so we need to move the conversation to doing it…At the end of the day strategy is all about making some choices.”

So how can old businesses achieve innovation?

“Fail fast, fail cheap, pivot,” suggests Suzana Ristevski, Chief Marketing Officer and Head of Strategy & Growth for GE Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

With speed and agility considered vital to innovation but difficult in large businesses, CommBank has turned to partnering with startups.

“They have the agility, we have the scale, so it’s a pretty great marriage,” says Tiziana Bianco, head of the CommBank’s Innovation Lab.

Corporate law firm Gilbert and Tobin have also invested in ‘self-disruption’ to avoid becoming obsolete, positioning themselves as a ‘market disruptor’ and increasing their stake in startup LegalVision to 20% at the start of August.

BHP Billiton, who was forced to cut its dividends by 75% in February this year, has moved to a five-point plan (see The big three drivers to job growth).

  1. Hastening production
  2. Accelerating technology competencies
  3. Creating innovation hubs to address innovative solutions to specific challenges
  4. Setting up programs to build from the inside the company
  5. Forging partnerships with unis, CSIRO, and CRCs

When asked at the AFR Innovation Summit what would happen to jobs if they innovated through automation, BHP’s CTO Diane Jurgens said her company is upskilling existing workers; taking them off machinery and teaching them to operate machines from the safety of a control room.

Group CEO & Managing Director of Domino’s, Don Meij, told the summit’s audience that if we don’t take our skills ‘upstream’ in this way, we will simply miss out on the market altogether.

– Elise Roberts

innovation in western australia

Innovation in Western Australia

Science is fundamental for our future social and economic wellbeing.

In Western Australia we’re focusing on areas where we have natural advantages, and an appropriate base of research and industrial capacity. Western Australia’s Science Statement, released by Premier Barnett in April 2015, represents a capability audit of relevant research and engagement expertise in our universities, research institutes, State Government agencies and other organisations. Mining and energy, together with agriculture, are traditional powerhouses, but the science priorities also reflect the globally significant and growing capabilities in medicine and health, biodiversity and marine science, and radio astronomy. It’s a great place to begin exciting new collaborations.

The Science Statement has also helped to align efforts across research organisations and industry. For instance, in 2015 an industry-led “Marine Science Blueprint 2050” was released, followed by the Premier commissioning a roundtable of key leaders from industry, Government, academia and community to develop a long-term collaborative research strategy. These meetings highlighted critical areas of common interest such as decommissioning, marine noise, community engagement and sharing databases.


“Opportunities abound for science and industry to work together to translate research into practical, or commercial, outcomes.”


Science, innovation and collaboration are integral to many successful businesses in Western Australia. In the medical field, a range of technological innovations have broadened the economy and created new jobs. Some of these success stories include Phylogica, Admedus, Orthocell, iCeutica, Dimerix, Epichem and Proteomics International. Another example in this space is the Phase I clinical trial facility, Linear Clinical Research, which was established with support from the State Government – 75% of the trials conducted to date come from big pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies in the USA.

Opportunities abound for science and industry to work together to translate research into practical, or commercial, outcomes. For example, the field of big data analytics is rapidly permeating many sectors. Perth’s Pawsey Centre, the largest public research supercomputer in the southern hemisphere, processes torrents of data delivered by many sources, including radioastronomy as the world’s largest radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array, is being developed in outback WA. In addition, local company DownUnder GeoSolutions has a supercomputer five times the size of Pawsey for massive geophysical analyses. In such a rich data environment, exciting new initiatives like the CISCO’s Internet of Everything Innovation Centre, in partnership with Woodside, is helping to drive innovation and growth.

Leading players in the resources and energy sector are also taking innovative approaches to enhance efficiency and productivity. Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton use remote-controlled driverless trucks, and autonomous trains, to move iron ore in the Pilbara. Woodside has an automated offshore facility, while Shell is developing its Prelude Floating Liquefied Natural Gas facility soon to be deployed off the northwest coast. Excitingly, 3 emerging companies (Carnegie, Bombora and Protean) are making waves by harnessing the power of the ocean to generate energy.

This high-tech, innovative environment is complemented by a rapidly burgeoning start-up ecosystem. In this vibrant sector, Unearthed runs events, competitions and accelerators to create opportunities for entrepreneurs in the resources space. Spacecubed provides fabulous co-working space for young entrepreneurs, including the recently launched FLUX for innovators in the resource sector. The online graphic design business Canva, established by two youthful Western Australians epitomises what entrepreneurial spirit and can-do attitude can achieve. In this amazingly interconnected world, the sky’s the limit.

Professor Peter Klinken

Chief Scientist of Western Australia

Read next: Professor Barney Glover, Vice-Chancellor and President of Western Sydney University and Dr Andy Marks, Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Strategy and Policy) of Western Sydney University on Making innovation work.

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