TEN  startup businesses will pitch their concepts and plans to potential investors at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Sydney on February 21.

The event is part of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney’s inaugural Founders 10x Accelerator program.

Pitches include a motorcycle helmet that improves a rider’s reaction time, an asteroid-prospecting company searching for viable mineral reserves in space, and a domestic nanny service to give busy parents back their ‘me-time’.

Teams from the Founders 10x Accelerator program’s first cohort of entrepreneurs will pitch their businesses to potential investors as part of the launch of the Founders Program, the flagship initiative of the UNSW Entrepreneurship team, at the MCA.  

The Accelerator program identified 10 high-impact UNSW student or alumni startups to participate in an intensive 10-week program, offering world-class mentoring and networking opportunities, business development services and financial support.

The program includes masterclasses hosted by Silicon Valley-based startups, access to UNSW’s network of founders, alumni and mentors, and $20,000 in seed-funding.

The program is part of a suite of new initiatives launched through the Founders Program, which includes aspects such as Founders Global, helping student entrepreneurs understand and access the rapidly growing global innovation and venture capital ecosystems, and New Wave Founders, addressing the gender gap in entrepreneurship through support programs for women in the startup space.

UNSW’s director of entrepreneurship, Elizabeth Eastland, said its unique model for entrepreneurial confidence sets the Founders Program apart. Dr Eastland said through its ‘Founders First’ ethos, the program offered founders a different perspective on what success and excellence looks like; a mindset driven by a desire to succeed, a commitment to sustainability and a focus on giving back.

The startups pitching for investor funds at Wednesday’s launch offer innovative solutions to a diverse range of problems. Heba Shaheed, one half of the husband-and-wife team behind the Pelvic Expert, has made it her mission to give women’s health a voice through the e-learning site. 

The Pelvic Expert combines holistic and research-based women’s health solutions to help with pregnancy, birth recovery, chronic pain and related issues.

“There is little accurate, reliable and accessible information on women’s health and pelvic issues,” Heba, the mother of a 10-month-old, said. “We offer e-health on a gamified platform that you can access anywhere in the world.”

Other startups pitching for investor funds include a digital credit card addressing online fraud, a portal to virtual internships to advance careers, and a cloud-based engineering software company allowing users to model, analyse and design structures through simulation.

Dr Eastland said, “The Founders Program amplifies UNSW Sydney’s outstanding reputation for fostering entrepreneurial talent. This ambitious initiative aims to make entrepreneurial confidence a part of every UNSW student’s experience, equipping them with the skills and resilience they need to thrive in the 21st century marketplace.”




This emphasis on resilience has personal significance for Malaysian-Australian businessman, Maha Sinnathamby, who has donated $5 million to UNSW, half of which will be used to fund the Accelerator program.

Mr Sinnathamby is the entrepreneur behind the Greater Springfield city building project in Queensland – Australia’s largest master planned community and the 10th largest globally. He credits his success and sizeable personal fortune to simple hard work, and not ever giving up in the face of adversity – something he is no stranger to.

At five, he watched as his father, a British informant, was taken as a prisoner of war during the Japanese occupation of Malaysia (known as Malaya at the time). His father was one of only two survivors of 142 imprisoned.  

With persistence and a good education, Mr Sinnathamby believes it is possible to overcome any challenge. It was this mindset that helped him to overcome his impoverished childhood on a small farming village outside Kuala Lumpur with no electricity, little running water and a kerosene lamp to study under at night.

As a young man, Mr Sinnathamby moved to Australia to study civil engineering. Though he struggled to support himself, he succeeded against the odds.  A variety of small business ventures and driving a cab at night kept him going and taught him that “anything is possible in Australia if you want it badly enough”. 

According to Mr Sinnathamby, failures in life are as important as successes.

“You have to have a deaf ear to negativity and just keep going,” Mr Sinnathamby said, “and a strong sense of self-belief.” 

The second cohort of the Founder10x Accelerator will begin in mid-2018. To date, 400 startups and 600 founders have been supported by UNSW’s existing entrepreneurship programs and more than 25,000 people have participated in events and workshops at the Michael Crouch Innovation Centre.

More than 100 startups per year graduate from UNSW’s coordinated programs.



THE Boeing-developed autonomous ocean vehicle, Wave Glider, is now helping the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) test how a high‐tech autonomous ocean vehicle could improve monitoring of the Great Barrier Reef and coastal waters.

A recent seven‐day trial saw the vehicle cover 200 nautical miles of the central Great Barrier Reef, in what is the first major milestone of a five‐year joint research agreement between AIMS and Boeing, the world’s largest aerospace company.

Wave Glider, developed by Boeing subsidiary Liquid Robotics, was deployed at the Great Barrier Reef to help assess the health of the coral reefs and ecosystems. Powered by waves and sun, the vehicle provided continuous, real‐time environmental ocean data using a suite of on‐board sensors and software.

As Wave Glider travels along the ocean’s surface, its measurements can include weather, wave heights, water salinity and pH levels, chlorophyll and more. 

AIMS head of data and technology innovation  Lyndon Llewellyn said researchers were still analysing data captured by the autonomous vehicle.

“We are impressed with the number of different measurements it could conduct at the same time and its ability to transmit the data back to our base immediately and reliably while navigating and performing its mission,” Dr Llewellyn said.

Dr Llewellyn said the technology allowed science to measure atmosphere and water over long periods of time because the vehicle could operate at sea for several months at a time while following a programmed course or being piloted remotely.

“It was quite extraordinary how the Wave Glider remained on its planned mission,” Dr Llewellyn said. “It went where it was told to and it stayed the course like an orienteering champion.

“The Wave Glider technology will be an important tool to advance our mission to better monitor the Great Barrier Reef.”

Because of its autonomous nature, Wave Glider frees up human resources to focus on science and not the logistics of collecting data. 

Boeing Autonomous Systems vice president and general manager Chris Raymond said, “Boeing and our Liquid Robotics team are proud to support AIMS in its mission to monitor the health of the Great Barrier Reef.

“The demonstration proves how autonomous systems like our Wave Glider can improve upon human‐based environmental data collection methods while also being safe and affordable," Mr Raymond said.




A MEDICAL DRINK to manage dementia and a website security program to protect against automated attacks are among 24 innovative Australian businesses to receive a $11.2 million kick start to commercialise products for Australian and international markets.

The funding, provided under the Federal Government Entrepreneurs’ Programme’s Accelerating Commercialisation element, will support the businesses to conduct commercialisation activities, proving the viability of their products, processes or services and preparing them for market.

Accelerating Commercialisation director Larry Lopez said the 24 businesses were among 234 Australian businesses to have benefited from more than $117 million in Entrepreneurs’ Programme funding to date.

“The Entrepreneurs’ Programme, through the Accelerating Commercialisation element, supports entrepreneurs, researchers and businesses to find the right commercialisation solutions for their novel product, process or service as they work towards achieving success in the global marketplace,” Mr Lopez said.

The latest funded projects include an innovative web security application, welding-free pipe fitting technology for the oil and gas industries, a medical food product to manage early Alzheimer’s dementia, and an intelligent train control system for heavy haul railways.

“The awarded businesses are based in both regional and metropolitan locations around Australia, showing that innovation is not just confined to the big cities,” Mr Lopez said. 

“This is about helping businesses take smart ideas from the drawing board to products and services for Australian and international markets and creating new job opportunities for Australians.

“The programme’s experienced Commercialisation Advisers will help the recipients to navigate this often challenging stage of product development.”

Businesses are required to dollar match the grant funding.

The 24 projects offered support include:

Software enabling blind and vision impaired people to interact with websites and access web-based business and government services.

Pipe fitting technology that does not require welding or swaging, reducing down time for businesses in the oil and gas, marine, food and agriculture industries.

An effervescent medical food drink for medically supervised use to manage early memory loss and Alzheimer’s dementia.

A 3D cell tower visualisation and analysis service for the wireless telecommunications industry that reduces costs, improves safety and maximises tower use.

A cloud-enabled, wirelessly charged customer location system for the hospitality sector that saves businesses time and money and improves customer experience.

Intelligent, adaptive software for controlling extra-long heavy haul trains that optimises train performance, improves safety and minimises costs.

A website security program that protects against automated attacks and offers greater cost effectiveness, higher security, and simpler implementation for businesses.

An organic waste management solution that produces cost-competitive biological fertiliser for agricultural markets.

Sustainable aquaculture techniques that allow fish farming with a smaller footprint and better filtration.



A NEW medical technology precinct – known as M2 – was launched at Monash University in Melbourne in August.

M2 is a joint project between CSIRO, Monash University and Monash Health Translation Precinct. M2 also includes CSIRO’s new Biomedical Materials Translation Facility (BMTF).

Australian medical technology has led the world in many aspects, improving lives worldwide. Australian science created the electronic pacemaker, the bionic ear and extended wear contact lenses. Australian researchers are currently viewed as pioneers in the world of 3D-printed medical implants. 

“This new, world-class facility sees CSIRO and Monash biomedical researchers working together to commercialise new medical technologies and pharmaceuticals for industry,” Industry, Innovation and Science Minister Arthur Sinodinos said.

“We have an extensive track record, and it’s one we want to continue. The M2 facility brings together expertise, experience and equipment needed to turn excellent science into a clinically-tested product, all within the city of Monash.”

At the official opening, Mr Sinodinos said collaborations like M2 would help to ensure the next generation of medical devices were not only created in Australia, “but developed and built here ensuring a globally competitive medtech industry”.

He saide through the National Innovation and Science Agenda, the Australian Government was investing heavily in medical technology with the $20 billion Medical Research Future fund providing long-term financial backing to foster closer collaboration between the research sector and industry, and the $500 billion Biomedical Translation Fund helping commercialise biomedical research in Australia.

“M2’s work will also complement work being done by the Government’s Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals Growth Centre (MTP Connect) to help establish Australia as an Asia Pacific hub for medical technology, biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies,” Mr Sinodinos said.

“But beyond the economic growth and employment, the sector has another very important benefit – a healthier and happier Australia.”

M2 is supported by the Science and Industry Endowment Fund.


AUSTRALIA was officially welcomed into the Generation IV International Forum (GIF) Framework Agreement in September, a scientific partnership developing future nuclear energy technologies.

The CEO of the Australian Nuclear Science Technology Organisation (ANSTO), Adi Paterson  said GIF was a cooperative international endeavour to “develop and design the next generation of nuclear energy systems” which would be a potential game-changer in global energy creation.

As the 14th Member of the GIF, Australian researchers will work with countries including Canada, France, Japan, China, South Korea, South Africa, Russia, Switzerland and the United States. 

Members of GIF work collaboratively to develop what is known as Generation IV designs of nuclear energy systems, which will use fuel more efficiently; produce less waste; be more economically competitive; and meet stringent standards in relation to safety and non-proliferation.

He said GIF research was focused on six reactor designs that will deliver safe, secure, sustainable, competitive and versatile nuclear technology in the future.

Dr Paterson attended the ceremony at the OECD Château in France which officially welcomed Australia. The GIF Charter was signed in June last year, and the recent event marked Australia’s accession to the Framework Agreement.

This will enable Australia to become actively engaged in research and development projects related to Generation IV systems, particularly in relation to advanced materials.

“Australia has no nuclear power program, but we do have significant local expertise through which we can lend assistance in next-generation research, which is what this partnership is about,” Dr Paterson said..

"This agreement will enable Australia to contribute to an international group focused on peaceful use of nuclear technology, and the international energy systems of the future.

“Our participation in GIF is an affirmation of Australia’s exemplary research capabilities and STEM industry, strengthened by ANSTO’s expertise and highly developed nuclear science infrastructure,” Dr Paterson said.

“On Australia’s behalf, ANSTO will leverage our world-class capabilities, particularly in relation to the development of advanced materials with applications in extreme industrial environments, and of nuclear safety cases.

“Australia’s role on this global stage will see us sharing our expertise in nuclear research and technology, and will further our non-proliferation and nuclear safety objectives.

“It will also foster new avenues and opportunities to engage with global information sharing through this long-term research project.”


INNOVATIVE organisations are heavily investing in designing ‘beautiful’ spaces to boost innovation and maximise collaboration, according to a Bond University workplace expoert.

In fact, Bond University is practising what it preaches, as “the office becomes more important than ever in today’s tech-driven economy” according to Bond Business School’s Libby Sander.

Ms Sander said despite predictions the office would become obsolete as a result of technological advancements, businesses were placing increasing emphasis on workplace design, with billions of dollars being poured annually into developing effective commercial spaces in Australia.

She said while technology, the rise of the contingent workforce and demand for innovation had forced workplaces to rapidly-adapt, face-to-face contact remained central to the economy. 

“Research has found two-thirds of employees prefer to build relationships face-to-face and the majority prefer to do so in an ideal workplace,” Ms Sander said.

“Involvement by managers and employees in collaborative endeavours has increased by 50 percent in the past two decades and collaboration is seen as a vital precursor to the production of creative ideas, problem solving and improved social capital, so creating opportunities for this is critical.

“Physical space acts like body language for an organisation, supporting thinking and creativity, with research showing subtle cues in our environment can cause us to be different versions of ourselves – more innovative or more outgoing, for example,” Ms Sander said.

“As a result, creating an attractive workplace is essential not only to attracting and retaining staff, but inspiring them, encouraging them to work together and boosting their productivity.”

Ms Sander, who worked in human resources for some of Australia’s largest corporations before researching and advising on workplace design, said businesses needed to understand how the physical environment affected employees thoughts, feelings, behaviour and performance.

She said this was factored into the design of Bond University’s latest learning space – a co-working hub, which has become the home of its recently-launched Transformer program, aimed at instilling ‘big-picture’ thinking in students across all faculties.    

“The Transformer space is designed around the idea of ‘accelerated serendipity’ – bumping into someone who can help you develop an idea or work through a problem,” she said. “It could be another student, an academic or industry mentor.

“The co-working hub ensures when these chance encounters occur, there is space nearby to support the task or discussion required.  This could be a private quiet space, a coffee at the long bar table in the kitchen or sketching up ideas on a whiteboard wall in the lounge area.

“Without fit-for-purpose zones and spaces to support these needs, research shows essential conversations do not occur and the opportunity is lost.”

Ms Sander said the co-working space also provided students with an understanding of how future workplace environments should operate. 

“Organisations need employees to work in an agile way, collaborate across boundaries and contribute to innovative outcomes,” she said.

“It is vital that universities ensure students are also prepared for this. The design of physical spaces that allow students to become familiar with this way of thinking and working is an essential part of the preparation.”

Ms Sander said, across the board, workplaces needed to make people both physically and psychologically comfortable.

"Workplace design is increasingly incorporating domestic elements to support activities in different areas and make people feel at ease,” Ms Sander said.

“This might include high-spec kitchens, cafe areas, lounge spaces and the use of domestic or natural materials such as timber and slate, while the addition of warm colours can support creativity.”

Ms Sander said there were several elements a successful corporate office should include.

“The workplace must allow individuals to focus and concentrate. Acoustics and privacy are important, as these are areas that employees complain about when companies do not get it right,” she said.

“Research has shown that our workspaces need to be beautiful. Beautiful spaces improve our mood and make us more tolerant and expansive in our thinking.

“They also need to allow us to connect when we choose to.  Forcing people to collaborate all the time is counter-productive and actually makes them more hostile and withdrawn.  

“The use of plants is another key trend that aligns with our need for natural environments to reduce stress and promote more openness in thinking and ideas.  Recent research found employees were 15 percent more productive, could concentrate better and were more satisfied when greenery was added to the workplace,” Ms Sander said.

“Finally, the space should be made flexible by using furniture that can be reconfigured for different needs and activities.”




INTERNATIONAL researchers have travelled to Townsville to the National Sea Simulator (SeaSim) at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) as part of cutting edge research to help save the world’s fish.

University of Miami’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Science professor of physiology and toxicology, Martin Grosell travelled to Townsville recently to look at how changes in the brain chemistry of small reef fish can change their behaviour.

Dr Grosell and fellow University of Miami marine biologist Rachael Heuer have been guests at AIMS, working alongside researchers from James Cook University’s ARC Centre for Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, and the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.

The research is a collaboration of physiology, behaviour and gene expression to understand how rising carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in sea water will affect the behaviour of fish, to see what the Great Barrier Reef may look like in 2100. 

Dr Grosell said fish living with higher carbon dioxide levels in sea water had shown patterns of altered behaviour including disorientation, “similar to Dory in the movie Finding Nemo”.

 “Normally fish would swim away or hide from a predator or alarm cues, but researchers are finding that high CO2 levels cause the fish to instead be attracted to these cues and so the fish is putting itself in danger,” Dr Grosell said.

“We believe it is because the acid-base balance in the brain is altered and when they start making everyday life decisions under those conditions, those decisions are poor, which may compromise their survival.

“What we are hoping is they will adapt, but if CO2 levels continue to rise, we want to see how populations will respond in the future.”

Dr Grosell said the AIMS’ National Sea Simulator at Cape Ferguson was the only place in the world where this type of detailed research could be undertaken.

He said the SeaSim created the natural CO2 fluctuations found on the reef and then simulated conditions predicted to occur in the future under various climate scenario levels, allowing his team to study reef fish in simulated naturally occurring conditions.

“I am really impressed with the facilities here, it is mind blowing. There really isn’t anywhere else we can do this scope of study with this accuracy,” Dr Grosell said.

“Using the SeaSim we can fluctuate CO2 levels which occur naturally to get a more accurate picture of what it could look like in 80 years.” 

AIMS SeaSim precinct manager Craig Humphrey said the research team worked around the clock for 10 days, with sampling being undertaken at intervals from 2am up to 6pm each day.

“In the SeaSim we aim to create conditions in the aquarium that more closely match those found on the reef than was previously available in experimental aquarium facilities,” he said.

“This includes seasonal and diel [24-hour] variation in temperature and ocean acidification with an ability to simulate the conditions predicted under future climate scenarios.”

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