NEW RADAR technology for the Australian Defence Force and a standardised cancer treatment for animals are among 10 innovative projects to receive funding through the third round of CSIRO’s ON Accelerate program.

ON, powered by CSIRO, is Australia’s sci-tech accelerator designed to fast-track leading science and technology innovation from the lab to reality, supported through the Federal Government’s $1.1 billion National Innovation and Science Agenda. 

One of the ON Accelerate programs, through RMIT, is Australian Silicon Photonics. This group is developing a low-cost, low-energy solution for datacentre operators to help them manage increased data volumes while reducing energy consumption and environmental impact.

Going for Gold, through the CSIRO, is a safe and cost effective replacement for cyanide that will allow miners to recover more gold from the precious resource while protecting communities and the environment.

DentalAR, through the University of Western Australia), is augmented reality for dentists to help improve patient treatment and reduce time spent in ‘the chair’. 

NutriThick, through Flinders University, is an easy-to-drink, non-dairy and non-animal supplement for highly bioavailable calcium – based on Australian seaweed – that could provide the boost needed by an estimated one in two Australians who suffer from calcium deficiency.

RadVet, through the University of Newcastle, is a standardised and effective treatment for skin cancer in animals;

Passive Radar, developed with the Defence Science and Technology Group, is a new passive radar technology that allows the Australian Defence Force teams to maintain situational awareness without advertising their presence.

LuciGem, through Macquarie University, is a new medical technology that uses nano-sized particles of ruby and diamond to ‘light-up’ human systems to ‘see the unseen’ and improve patient diagnosis and treatment.

CSIRO is involved in the three other projects funded through ON Accelerate. 

DetectORE is designed as a simple, cost-effective solution for detecting gold in the field that will transform work processes and increase efficiency and returns for geologists.

D-tech IT is a new rapid video analysis technology that allows species identification of fish at the ‘point-of-catch’ to enable safer fishing practices and endangered species protection.

Green and Gold is another new technology that will increase capacity for production of renewable oils from plants to meet growing global demand for food oils, industrial chemicals and renewable fuels.

The research teams start a 12 week program to commercialise their research, guided by mentors from industry, science and commercialisation in January 2017 and will culminate in a ‘pitch event’ to industry to secure further funds and partners for commercialisation in April 2017.

The Turnbull Government is also helping researchers to commercialise their discoveries and inventions through the $200 million CSIRO Innovation Fund, which was launched in December.

The CSIRO Innovation Fund will invest in new ventures, some of which may be generated by CSIRO’s ON accelerator.

“ON is making significant inroads to connect and improve collaboration between research agencies and universities, and between research and industry, to improve our global OECD research to industry collaboration ranking and increase positive outputs from research,” former Industry Minister Greg Hunt said.

“In the five months since CSIRO opened the accelerator to all Australian universities and publicly funded research agencies, it has exposed more than 200 researchers to the business and entrepreneurial skills required to understand the customer first, and how to deliver maximum national benefit from their research.

“Research teams in ON have completed more than 3,000 customer calls with industries from health to mining and minerals, defence, technology and manufacturing to understand the customers’ challenges and how their sci-tech proposition can support.” 

Mr Hunt said the result had been much greater uptake and engagement from industry with the solutions research can deliver – 13 new partnerships or customer agreements signed and more than $1.5 million in external funds secured by ON graduates.

“The combined impact of these big innovations is expected to be felt by all Australians in the form of new jobs, new ways to address some of our biggest social challenges and new opportunities to help industries who are transitioning to compete and grow,” Mr Hunt said.



TRACTILE solar roof tile designer and manufacturer, Gold Coast-based Trac Group Holdings, has welcomed billionaire Tesla owner Elon Musk’s planned expansion into the global solar roof tile market.

Trac Group managing director Jason Perkins said the high-profile entrepreneur’s foray into the solar roof tile business would enhance the industry and raise awareness among consumers. 

“During the past eight years we have developed, product tested and refined our Tractile Solar Roof tiles and we are now preparing to start a global roll-out of our products,’’ Mr Perkins said.

“Tractile was one of the first companies to offer solar roof tiles, and the only one in the world that offers both electricity and heated water from a solar roof tile. We are technology leaders with a strong focus on design.

 “Mr Musk has done the industry and our company a huge favour by highlighting the opportunity for the solar roof tile sector.

“It is forecast that the Building Integrated Photovoltaic (BIPV) market will grow from about $3 billion in 2015 to over $9 billion in 2019, and surge to $26 billion by 2022.

“Like electric cars, and battery storage, when Musk moves into an industry it is because he sees opportunity.” 

Mr Musk has unveiled prototypes of a new roof combining roof shingles and solar cells and announced his Tesla and SolarCity businesses were expanding into the industry.

Trac Group, which is the designer and manufacturer of award-winning roofing products, attempted an Australian Stock Exchange listing earlier this year to raise funds for the international expansion but it was withdrawn.

“One the issues we encountered during the listing process was that large investors were wary of the technology and unaware of the potential of the market,’’ Mr Perkins said.

“Elon Musk’s announcement has lifted global awareness of the opportunity almost overnight and we are pleased that a visionary business leader such as Mr Musk realises the potential for these products around the world. It validates the opportunity for Tractile to be a key player in this growing market, as well as a potential takeover target.

“At present we have requests for quotes from literally hundreds of potential customers and we are excited about the prospects for the future. 

“Mr Musk’s announcement will help us to attract additional capital, which we need to fund our planned global roll-out, and attract large developers who are looking for innovative products to integrate into their projects.”

Mr Perkins said the US market required five million new roofs every year while the Australian market builds about 100,000 roofs every year. Mr Musk’s company plans to enter the US market next year.

Trac Group Holdings director Bertio Terpstra said he believed Mr Musk’s company would help Trac Group’s efforts. “Our focus at this stage is on niche markets rather than the mass consumer market,’’ Mr Terpstra said.

“We are marketing our products to eco-villages, 50-plus developments, high-end architect-designed homes and off-grid projects.

“Developments that involve bodies corporate are attracted to our products because they should pay for themselves within six years of construction and can be fully financed for retrofit projects.

“I recently attended the Solar Power International exhibition in Las Vegas and there were no building integrated roofing systems on show,’’ Mr Terpstra said.

“The products on display were 10 years behind where we are now and as a result we have appointed an agent in California to sign up distributors in the USA.”

Mr Terpstra said the exclusive distribution licences would be initially priced at $200,000 for every million people in the distributor’s target area.

“The research shows that for every one million people, there are approximately 4000 new roofs required every year, so our distribution licences have been priced to take that into account,’’ Mr Perkins said.

“In exchange our distributors will have exclusive territory access to a variety of Trac Group’s product lines, trademarks and intellectual property.”

“For each territory of one million people or more, the distributor will receive $35,000 worth of stock to establish demonstration homes.”

Mr Perkins said the company had received more than 2200 business leads since its attempted stock exchange listing.

“Trac Group Holdings has been approached by 64 potential distributors interested in arrangements in 12 different countries,’’ Mr Perkins said.

“We also have had requests for product information from 200 retail customers in five different countries for new construction projects and renovations.



A NEW hybrid energy centre to transform low-emission technologies has been launched by Australia’s science agency, CSIRO, supported by Delta Energy Systems Australia and Toyota Australia.

The Centre for Hybrid Energy Systems is a collaborative facility to research cutting edge renewable and hybrid energy technologies. 

CSIRO fellow, Sukhvinder Badwal said the centre would be a hub for researchers and industry to identify, improve and then tailor energy technologies to meet specific requirements.

Combining two or more forms of energy generation, storage or end-use technologies, hybrid systems deliver overall cost and efficiency benefits, compared with single source energy systems, Dr Badwal said. Configurations include renewable or non-renewable energy sources, electrical and chemical energy storage and fuel cells, often connected via a smart grid.

Dr Badwal said there was a rapidly growing global demand for hybrid energy systems based on increased availability of renewable and modular power generation and storage technologies such as batteries, fuel cells, and household solar.

“These technologies are becoming cost competitive, but the key to greater use is to combine them in connected hybrid systems,” Dr Badwal said.

“By doing this, we can offer substantial improvements in performance, reliability of power, flexibility and cost.”

The collaborative space will be used to share the benefits of emerging hybrid energy systems with industry and government to maximise the value of local energy sources.

Centre for Hybrid Energy Systems partner, Delta Energy Systems Australia, is a developer and manufacturer of environmentally-friendly electric vehicle, solar-supported, fast-charging technologies.

Delta Energy Systems Australia director Allen Chao said his company was set to embark on a range of collaborative research projects with CSIRO in this field.

“The opening of the Centre for Hybrid Energy Systems will expand research in this area and marks a significant milestone to ensure the success of any industry cooperation,” Mr Chao said.

Senior executive advisor to the board of Toyota Australia, Bernie O’Connor congratulated CSIRO on the opening of a research hub for these important technologies.

“Toyota Australia recognises the importance of research into alternate green energy sources, as well as its role in the development of future infrastructure for fuel cell vehicles, which are powered exclusively by hydrogen,” Mr O’Connor said.

The Centre for Hybrid Energy Systems will also provide education, testing and certification services for emerging storage batteries, hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.

Dr Badwal said it was underpinned by CSIRO’s research across low-emission energy technologies that create value for industry and households and provide the knowledge which will help guide Australia towards a smart, secure energy future.

INNOVATION and Science Australia chair, Bill Ferris, called for a “greater focus on the role of innovation in driving future economic growth and prosperity” at the recent NZVCA 2016 Private Equity and Venture Capital Conference in Wellington, New Zealand.

Mr Ferris told the conference that strengthening our national innovation systems was essential in preparing for a future characterised by increasing global economic competition. 

“Heading deeper into this 21st century, innovation will play an increasingly vital role in securing and maintaining the economic growth and individual prosperity to which countries like New Zealand and Australia have become accustomed,” Mr Ferris said.

Mr Ferris said he was an admirer of the successes enjoyed by New Zealand start-ups.

“There are some great stories about innovative companies coming out of New Zealand,” he said. “These types of successes are important, and not merely for the founders, investors and end-users of innovative new products or services, but for the trajectory of the national economy as a whole.”

Realising the benefits that innovative and start-up companies can bring to a national economy depends in part on creating a culture that “celebrates success while seeing the value in learning from ventures that don’t work”.

Facilitating the development of a national culture that fully embraces innovation is a key objective of Innovation and Science Australia. The upcoming audit of Australia’s innovation system and the following 2030 Strategic Plan will provide whole-of-government advice on fully harnessing Australia’s innovation potential.

Mr Ferris strongly urged conference attendees to be active in seeking-out opportunities to support up and coming innovative businesses in a rapidly developing and constantly transitioning global economy.

“Encouraging the development and growth of start-ups, supporting the commercialisation of publicly-funded research and attracting R&D investment, are all important priorities and ones that our countries share in common.” Mr Ferris said.



A START-UP incubation space to nurture the next generation of business leaders at QUT has been officially opened by Australia’s first State Chief Entrepreneur, Mark Sowerby.

The QUT Foundry, a co-working and mentoring space at QUT’s Gardens Point campus, was officially launched by Queensland Chief Entrepreneur Mark Sowerby on October 21. 

Mr Sowerby is one of the state’s most successful entrepreneurs and best known as the founder and former managing director of Blue Sky Alternative Investments Ltd, an ASX-listed diversified funds manager focussed on alternative assets. 

Through Blue Sky, Mr Sowerby has helped grow a portfolio of innovative companies – including Toowoomba organic producer Kialla Pure Foods, fashion groups Shoes of Prey, Aquila and Eloquii and wine ‘game changer’ Vinimofo – along with a range of cutting edge sustainable property developments, including many in the student accommodation sector.

As the inaugural Queensland Government-appointed Chief Entrepreneur, Mr Sowerby helps set Queensland’s strategy to identify, attract and nurture opportunities to best position Queensland as the Start-up State.

The QUT Foundry, powered by QUT’s innovation, venture and investment company qutbluebox, is a space for QUT student entrepreneurs, staff and alumni to devise and develop ideas. As well as mentoring opportunities, QUT Foundry start-ups will have access to regular events and advice from industry experts.

Mr Sowerby said QUT was “a force to be reckoned with” and praised the opening of QUT Foundry as the latest step in the university’s evolving entrepreneurial focus.

“You can’t have enough of these spaces,” Mr Sowerby said.

“What you’re really playing for is that random interaction, that sliding door moment that changes the world.

“QUT is an incredible place. There is so much momentum here and everybody’s behind it.”

QUT has been selected to host the MIT Global Entrepreneurship Bootcamp at Gardens Point campus in March, 2017.

QUT deputy vice-chancellor for research and commercialisation, Arun Sharma said QUT Foundry was part of a wider commitment to making QUT a hub for emerging entrepreneurs.

“Queensland has a strong track record in fostering globally successful entrepreneurs like Mark Sowerby and QUT will be at the forefront of encouraging the next generation,” Professor Sharma said.

“The QUT Foundry is an exciting, creative space where young entrepreneurs will have support to transform innovative ideas into real world business solutions.”




REDBACK Technologies is one of Queensland’s outstanding companies in a field that is very much ahead of the innovation curve itself – future power management, especially integrating solar energy. 

A measure of how far Redback Technologies is ahead of the field is its attraction of a $9.3 million investment in the company by leading energy retailer EnergyAustralia, establishing a partnership aimed at developing new technology to help Australians take control of their energy consumption. 

Under the partnership, EnergyAustralia will promote the Redback Generation 2 Smart Hybrid Solar Inverter System to its 1.7 million customers in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory and South Australia.

Redback’s solar inverter system is scalable, easy to install and offers a faster return on investment than other competitors in the market. It can be run from a smart phone and is also battery and solar panel agnostic, which means it works with existing systems.

“Our partnership with EnergyAustralia significantly accelerates Redback’s technology roadmap and strategic plan for leading the disruptive change required for mass adoption of renewables,” Redback Technologies founder and managing director Philip Livingston said.

The inverter includes Redback’s cloud enabled intelligent system for analytics and remote control, the Ouija Board. Making use of the Internet of Things and technology gives homeowners and commercial users options through a smart device.

The technology uses machine learning to gather intelligence over time, learning from user preferences as well as drawing data from external factors like the weather.

“It is Redback’s mission to build infrastructure for the future grid, infrastructure that enables grid stability without reliance on centralised fossil generators,” Mr Livingston said. “Democratising access to clean energy by shifting reliance to decentralised renewable generation, whereby allowing consumers to monitor, store and control their own solar energy assets as a means of ensuring power is there when they need it.” 

Redback Technologies is based at the University of Queensland’s start-up incubator, iLab, and recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the university to commercialise its research and development in the solar space. This investment will see the startup expand its business and fuel the Queensland economy by creating about 60 new jobs – software and hardware developers along with client service specialists – the before the end of 2016.


SYDNEY manufacturer Romar Engineering and CSIRO have co-invested in a new $1.25 million 3D printer to produce new advanced manufacturing products for the medical and aerospace sectors.

The Lastertec three-dimensional additive manufacturing machine was launched in September by Assistant Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Craig Laundy at Romar’s workshops in Sefton, NSW. 

The German-made device will enable Romar and CSIRO to work together to conduct industry leading research in the manufacture of medical devices, titanium body implants and components for engines and machines.

Mr Laundy congratulated Romar Engineering and CSIRO on establishing a relationship that benefits both organisations in developing advanced manufacturing techniques that work in a global environment.

“Romar Engineering has a strong track record in working with government and researchers since the business was established in 1968 as a toolmaking and engineering business, servicing the automotive and industrial trade,” Mr Laundy said.

“By showing initiative and working with organisations like CSIRO and the government’s growth centres, Romar has adapted to market changes and now provides precision manufactured components to the medical, aerospace, aeronautical and other industries.

“CSIRO are committed to collaboration with business as part of their Australia’s Innovation Catalyst Strategy 2020, and to delivering scientific and engineering innovation to transition Australian manufacturing,” he said.

“Australia’s manufacturing base remains essential to our future economic growth and prosperity and must continue to transform to deliver advanced manufacturing products and processes.”

The sector employs about 900,000 people and accounts for more than a quarter of Australian business expenditure on research and development. However, Mr Laundy said, its long-term success lies in providing value-added products and services, both locally and globally.

The government is supporting the transition by encouraging collaboration and the commercialisation of research through initiatives such as the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre and the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre.



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