Tag Archives: CRCA

CRC Association

Innovation, perspiration and consultation

Some vital contributions to successful innovation might be quite small; they might even be deemed mundane or boring. But that doesn’t diminish their importance. These contributions usually fall into Thomas Edison’s ‘99 per cent perspiration’ category of genius, whereas the one per cent inspiration bit gets the recognition.

Perhaps it’s because the perspiration part doesn’t get the fanfare it deserves that innovation can be overlooked during planning.

In planning workshops, I spend a lot of time getting participants to think of those future ‘head slapping’ moments that need to be avoided. These often relate to systems and policies — “of course, no-one can use it until it’s in the building code” or “of course, once the Council of Australian Governments has agreed, we can adopt it.”

These statements of the obvious don’t seem so obvious when R&D is initially planned. Nevertheless, they are invariably preceded by the phrase “of course” when they come up.

Now with 30 years of hindsight, I see the massive blind spot technical people have when it comes to so-called “softer” sciences. I don’t know the origin of calling them soft sciences; if we ignore them, we are just as royally stuffed as if we bet against one of Newton’s laws.

Billions of dollars of applied science funding have failed to meet their promise because the social or human aspects of the research were ignored or downplayed.

“If you build it, they will come” may have worked for Kevin Costner in his film, Field of Dreams, but it hasn’t worked so well for a lot of genetic modification research or certain methods of food production — or, arguably, nuclear power. Assuming that public attitudes, economics and the law will eventually catch up to the science is just asking to be proved wrong.

We technical people are getting better. We’ve started to invite a soft scientist or two to planning meetings. But building our machines and funding our experiments is super expensive and obviously needs to be done first. Inevitably, “human factors” will be “program four” (never “program one”), with details to be worked out later, followed by budgeting a bit later than that (“How much money can they need? A few surveys can’t cost much!”)

It’s time we started to see the human factor as a front-end consideration — rather than an afterthought tacked on a few steps before the finish line — and gave proper respect to the perspiration needed to get us there.

Tony Peacock, CRC Association CEO

crca.asn.au

This article was published in KnowHow Issue 9.

Top 10 Science Meets Business Innovations

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

Early Career Researchers

Early career researchers take the stage

The Showcasing Early Career Researchers Competition celebrates good research that is well communicated. Entrants were asked to submit a 30-second video conveying the aim of their research. Five finalists were selected from 41 entrants to attend the 2017 CRC Association Annual Conference in Canberra, to give a 5-minute presentation. An audience vote at the Collaborate Innovate conference determined the winner. 

Meet the five Showcasing Early Career Researchers finalists and see a 30 second snapshot of their work. 

WINNER 2017

JULIE BEADLE – The HEARing CRC

HEARING LOSS IN OLDER ADULTS

early career researchers

Many older adults struggle to understand speech in everyday noisy situations, even when they perform well on traditional hearing tests. For my PhD, I am investigating how age-related changes in cognitive functioning contribute to this all too common situation. I aim to develop a listening test that is reflective of communication in real life and examine how age and cognitive skills like attention and memory are related to performance on this test.

Watch Julie’s video

FINALISTS 2017 

JACQUILINE DEN HOUTING – Autism CRC

TOO ANXIOUS TO ACHIEVE

early career researchers

Around 40% of autistic people experience anxiety, and autistic people also tend to underperform academically. In the non-autistic population, a link between these two issues has been found.

In my research, I am using assessments of anxiety and academic achievement with a group of autistic students, to identify whether the same link exists within the autistic community. These findings could inform support options for autistic students, allowing for improved mental health and academic outcomes.

Watch Jacquiline’s video

DORIS GROSSE – Space Environment Research Centre

MANAGING SPACE DEBRIS

early career researchers

Several 100,000 space debris objects orbiting Earth are threatening to collide with and destroy our satellites networks. To prevent those collisions, a ground based laser can be aimed at the debris objects moving them out of the way with the help of photon pressure. The atmosphere, however, distorts the laser beam. The Adaptive Optics system that I am building compensates for those distortions so that the laser beam can be focused correctly on the object in space and hence preventing collisions.

Watch Doris’s video

TOMAS REMENYI – Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems CRC

TACKLING CLIMATE CHANGE

Early career researchers

The Climate Futures Team translates fine-scale, regional climate model output into useful, usable tools that are used by decision makers in industries across Australia. Our focus is on working closely with industry during research design, and throughout the process, to ensure the outputs of our research are directly relevant to our stakeholders and align with their decision making frameworks.

Watch Tomas’s video

MELISSA SCOTT – Autism CRC

WORKPLACES FOR ALL

Early career researchers

Despite people with autism having high levels of skills and the desire to work, they remain unemployed. Many employers are hesitant to hire people with autism due to their lack of confidence and knowledge about autism. To assist employers to better understand autism and their specific needs in the workplace, the Integrated Employment Success Tool (IEST) has been developed. The IEST is a practical “tool kit” with strategies to help employers tailor the workplace for success for people with autism.

Watch Melissa’s video

This article on the Showcasing Early Career Researchers Competition was first published by the CRC Association. Read the original article here.

collaborate

Collaborate to learn, learn to collaborate

One of the most marked changes in science and innovation in Australia in recent years is the attitude to collaboration. As we hold Collaborate | Innovate | 2017, there doesn’t seem to be any argument or concern over the importance of collaboration. It’s one of those things that is so well accepted that it seems strange to even remember when the value of collaboration was questioned and even argued against.

A decade ago, it was not uncommon to be virtually shunned in the scientific community for advocating a multidisciplinary approach to a problem or seeing industry as a partner to work with. The image of the lone scientist plugging away at a problem was often raised as the ideal way of doing science – if he or she was just left alone, well-funded, great things would happen.

The turnaround in attitude has been marked. I’ve seen a presentation from a demographer claiming that the fastest growing job in Australia is baristas. But I reckon Pro Vice-Chancellor Engagement, or some variation of that title, couldn’t be far behind. Universities and other research organisations have scrambled hard over the past few years to improve their level of interaction with industry. There doesn’t seem to be any resistance to the argument that Australia must improve its level of collaboration between the academic and industry sectors.


“It is in all our interests to learn more about the process of collaboration itself, so that we can continually improve.”


Winning the argument for more collaboration is only the first step. It doesn’t automatically follow that the resulting collaborations will be optimal, or even productive. Successful collaboration consists of getting a series of things right. Done right, collaboration means the whole adds up to more than the sum of the parts. Done poorly, it can be a mess.

That’s why Collaborate | Innovate | 2017 doesn’t just hammer away on the need for collaboration. It concentrates on the skills needed for good, productive collaboration. Collaborators need to be trusted partners and that can take more time and more effort than people anticipate. Collaborators may not be ready at the same time, or there may be a big differential in power or culture. These are speed bumps, not barriers.

The collaboration potential of an individual or organisation is not set in stone. It can, and does, change over time. It can be enhanced with experience, education and culture. Similarly, a dud policy can kill it off. It is in all our interests to learn more about the process of collaboration itself, so that we can continually improve.

The Cooperative Research Centres Programme has more than a quarter of a century of experience in relatively large-scale, complex collaborations. The money is of course vital to enabling great collaborations to deliver brilliant results. But collaboration is much more than an ingredient in seeking funding – it is a key to unlocking great innovation, which will result in much greater rewards than any government funding program. Deciding to collaborate is important; learning to collaborate well is vital.

Find out more at crca.asn.au

– Tony Peacock is CEO of the Cooperative Research Centres Association and founder of KnowHow.

You might also enjoy Tony Peacock’s commentary, Firing up our startups.

The future is innovation

Collaboration between industry and research is vital. We know that unlocking the commercial value of Australian research will result in world-first, new-to-market innovation and new internationally competitive businesses. Cooperative Research Centres (CRCs) are an excellent, longstanding example of how industry and researchers can work together to create these growth opportunities.

The CRC Programme supports industry-led collaborations between researchers, industry and the community. It is a proven model for linking researchers with industry to focus research and development efforts on progress towards commercialisation.

Importantly, CRCs also produce graduates with hands-on industry experience to help create a highly skilled workforce. The CRC Programme has been running for more than 25 years and has been extremely successful.

Since it began in 1990, more than $4 billion in funding has been committed to support the establishment of 216 CRCs and 28 CRC Projects. Participants have committed an additional $12.6 billion in cash and in-kind contributions.

CRCs have developed important new technologies, products and services to solve industry problems and improve the competitiveness, productivity and sustainability of Australian industries. The programme has produced numerous success stories; far too many for me to mention here. A few examples include the development of dressings to deliver adult stem cells to wounds; creating technology to increase the number of greenfields mineral discoveries; and spearheading a world-leading method for cleaning up the potentially toxic chemicals found in fire-fighting foams.

These examples demonstrate not just the breadth of work being done by the CRCs, but also the positive benefits they are delivering.

Click here to read KnowHow 2017.

KnowHow 2017

Senator the Hon Arthur Sinodinos AO is the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science in the Australian Government.

wound healing

Wound healing clinic to change lives

A dedicated wound healing clinic – the first in Australia – opens on Tuesday, 7 March. It draws together a pool of specialist wound healing talent that includes a vascular surgeon, nurse practitioners, an advanced podiatrist and specialist wound nurses in one spot to treat and assess chronic wounds.

The clinic, Wound Innovations, is in Spring Hill, Brisbane and accessible to all Australians via the Spring Hill teleclinic, which connects patients and health professionals with a specialist from Wound Innovations through videoconferencing facilities. Wound Innovations also offers education for health professionals and will be a site for clinical trials and other research projects. 

Living with a serious wound is incredibly debilitating. “Wounds are painful and can exude a fluid. People with a wound can suffer from a lack of mobility and this leads to less social interaction, and isolation,” explains Dr Ian Griffiths, CEO of the Wound Management Innovation Co-operative Research Centre (CRC), which runs Wound Innovations.

“Often people are afraid to go out because of the smell from their wounds. It can take you down a very dark path.”

Dr Griffiths says there is medical research linking wounds with depression as well as dementia.

The teleclinic takes high resolution photos of each patient’s wounds to monitor progress and the patient provides feedback, while wound healing experts make recommendations for future care. Appointments may attract a Medicare rebate.

Griffiths expects the wound healing clinic and teleclinic to be a life changer for patients and plans to open other wound healing clinics with specialised teams in capital cities around Australia.

He also expects dramatic savings to the Australian healthcare system as fewer people with wounds will end up in hospital. The Wound CRC estimates that wound healing and management costs the Australian healthcare system $2.85 billion a year, but this is considered a conservative figure and one that covers only the tip of the iceberg.

Griffiths hopes big institutions such as aged and residential care homes will join the clinical service and teleclinic. Some have large percentages of residents who need constant, ongoing wound care. “I know of one aged care home with 38% of residents with chronic wounds,” says Griffiths.

Some of the worst wounds to treat stem from chronic diseases such as diabetes. There are more than 4400 amputations in Australia because of diabetic foot wounds and every 30 seconds a lower limb is lost around the world.

Funded by the Federal Government, the Wound CRC has carried out industry led research since 2010. One research project showed that 78% of patients with venous leg ulcers will heal over a 12-week period by using best practice wound care, including compression bandaging.

Patients in many of the CRC’s studies live with the ulcers for 10 to 20 years. In one case, a patient lived with ulcers for 54 years. At the time, Wound CRC was recruiting patients for a project studying wounds that did not clear up after 12 weeks.

The CRC’s extensive wound healing research stretching over seven years is helping the 433,000 Australian patients who are suffering from chronic wounds at any one time. Their research covers diabetic foot ulcers, burns, skin tears, acute surgical wounds and pressure injuries.

For more information visit woundinnovations.com.au or call 1300 968 637.

Australian Innovation System

Australian innovation system in focus

The most comprehensive review of the Australian innovation system ever conducted was released this week by Innovation and Science Australia (ISA). If it was your child’s school report, you’d be saying we better have a serious discussion over dinner.
 
The conversion might go something like:

ISA: “We’ve had this discussion before, Australia. We’ve got your report and it’s OK but when are you going to really step up?”

Australia: “It’s not bad though. The Knowledge Creation teacher likes me.”

ISA: “It’s not a matter of whether the teacher likes you, or you like the teacher. We just want the best for you and if you are going to have a great future, you’ve got to put in the hard work across the board, not just in the areas you enjoy. Everyone likes you, Australia, but that’s different to doing the best you can.”

Australia: “Yeah, I know I could do more in transfer and application, but you want me to be like Israel or Singapore and they never have any fun and just work all the time”.

 ISA: “We’ve never said you can’t have fun. But at some stage you need to put your head down and get on with some serious work.”

Australia: “Yeah, yeah, I know….”
 
You get the picture. The full report on the Australian innovation system can be found here.

The report concentrates on the three areas of knowledge creation, knowledge transfer and knowledge application and establishes 20 measures across these. Clear benchmarks are set out between Australia’s performance and the average of the top five OECD performers, which gives a pretty clear guidance for future improvement.

The 20 measures were whittled down from an initial group of over 200 and they’ll be the basis for measuring the impact of future policy change. The report’s performance assessment is fairly general across the three key areas, rather than specific at the program level.

The rubber will hit the road during the coming phase as ISA pulls together a strategic plan for innovation and science in Australia to 2030. It’s hard to disagree at the moment when the conclusions are that we need to do better in a number of general areas. The contentious part will come much more in the strategic planning and implementation stage where change will be needed.

The performance review, which runs to over 200 pages and more than 700 references, provides an excellent baseline for future evaluation and Innovation and Science Australia deserves credit for publication of this important body of work.

It has the potential to become the reference material for judging performance of programs and their contribution to an overall Australian innovation strategy. At the very least, the assessment identifies which programs are regularly, thoroughly and transparently reviewed and those that are not.

An obvious part of the coming strategic plan will be to ensure all parts of the Australian innovation system are independently reviewed on a regular basis so their contribution to the overall strategy is maximised.

But this is not just a report for the government or ISA, where they should be tasked to simply fix things. It should be used across business, research organisations and all levels of government because it pulls together international data and lays out clearly where we stand as a country.

The assessment is a solid base to build on and could give the much needed longer-term vision needed for innovation in Australia.

– Dr Tony Peacock, CEO of the CRC Association

Click here to read the Performance Review of the Australian Innovation, Science and Research System 2016.

This piece on the Australian Innovation System was first published by the CRC Association on 7 February 2017. Read the original article here

CRC funding

CRC funding priorities: a welcome change

Minister Greg Hunt has signalled a potentially very important change to the Cooperative Research Centres Program. He wants to have the ability to call for, or prioritise, national interest themes in future  CRC funding rounds – for both Cooperative Research Centres and CRC-Projects. The CRC Association fully supports the Minister’s move.

Priorities for CRC funding rounds are not new. A number of existing CRCs were established as a result of the “priority public good” stream under the previous Labor Government. Ministers have often signalled several priority areas at the commencement of the funding round.

However, sometimes the priorities given were simply too vague to garner a meaningful response – I well remember debates about what “social innovation” meant when it was given as a priority. Calls for CRCs out of sync with the normal competitive funding round have also occasionally caused some confusion.
 
Through his media release today, Minister Hunt is doing things a bit differently. Firstly, he is seeking the views of the community on what issues should be prioritised.

Secondly, he is clear that any prioritised areas will need to be competitive and assessed on their merits in line with the normal processes.

Thirdly, and very importantly, he has said that the CRC program is open to all sectors and any prioritised areas will be in the national interest.

He has even gone further and named some example areas that many people would perceive as excluded by the current guidelines. 

The fast turnaround for consultation will allow for the coming Round 19 of the program to be impacted by the change.

– Tony Peacock

CRC funding
Tony Peacock is the CEO of the CRC Association and founder of KnowHow.

This article on CRC funding was first shared by the CRC Association on 21 December 2016. Read the original article here.

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research funding

$22.6 million research funding

The Australian Government just announced that it will invest $22.6 million in new research funding for 11 CRC-Projects (CRC-Ps), with funding to start from July 2016. The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science received ninety-one applications in the first round for CRC-Ps, speaking volumes to the level of interest by business as well as the highly competitive nature of the bid process.

CRC-Ps were developed by the government in response to the Miles Review handed down last year. David Miles recommended that three rounds be held every year. The next CRC-P round is expected to open in August 2016 with outcomes announced in November and funding from January 2017. The schedule for anticipated CRC and CRC-P funding rounds can be found here.

“Improving collaboration between researchers and industry to cultivate a more innovative and entrepreneurial economy is a key pillar of the Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda,” said the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, The Hon Christopher Pyne.

“We’ve placed industry at the front and centre of the CRC Programme so we can build on our strengths in high quality research to improve the competitiveness, productivity and sustainability of Australian industries.”

Successful CRC-P 1st Selection Round Projects can be found here.

Funded Projects

  • The future integrated driver monitoring solution for heavy vehicles
  • Hydrocarbon fuel technology for hypersonic air breathing vehicles
  • Printed solar films for value-added building products for Australia
  • Translational R&D to accelerate sustainable omega-3 production
  • CRC-P for Innovative Prefabricated Building Systems
  • An antibody based in vitro diagnostic for metastatic cancer
  • High performance optical telemetry system for ocean monitoring
  • Combined carbon capture from flue gas streams and mineral carbonation
  • Strengthening Australia’s radiopharmaceutical development capabilities
  • Innovation in Advanced Multi-Storey Housing Manufacture
  • Future Oysters CRC-P

Outcomes of stage one of the 18th selection round of CRCs are expected in July and applications will open for those invited to Stage Two. Final outcomes are expected to be known by the end of the year.

This article was first published by the CRC Association on 22 June 2016. Read the original article here

Excellence in Innovation Awards

Top 25 R&D Spin-off Awards

Featured image above: Top 25 winners accepting their awards with Refraction Media‘s CEO, Karen Taylor. Left to right: executives from iCetana, Refraction Media, Vaxxas, Fibrotech Therapeutics and SmartCap Technologies. Credit: Dave Dwyer Video Production and Photography

The Cooperative Research Centres Association (CRCA) presented the Top 25 R&D Spin-off Awards last week at their annual conference, The Business of Innovation. The awards honoured the Top 25 Science Meets Business R&D spin-off companies – a list of Australian businesses that have successfully moved their R&D from the lab to the marketplace.

The Top 25 companies were compiled by Refraction Media and supported by data from Thomson ReutersThey were judged by a panel comprising of: Dr Peter Riddles, biotechnology expert and director on many start-up enterprises; Dr Anna Lavelle, CEO and Executive Director of AusBiotech; and Tony Peacock, Chief Executive of the Cooperative Research Centres Association.

For each company, the panel considered total market value, annual turnover, patents awarded and cited, funding and investment, growth year-on-year, social value, overseas expansion and major partnerships.