A ROBOTIC arm developed to assist people in wheelchairs and with everyday movement difficulties won top honours at the fifth annual Tech23 2013 held in Sydney recently. A robotic grit blaster by Sabre Autonomous Solutions (pictured) took the Tech23 vote for technology with greatest potential. 

Sabre Autonomous Solutions' industry-changing grit blasting robot has already been deployed on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.


Developer 2Mar Robotics won the Innovation Excellence Award for its Jeva robotic arm system, as well as the ATP Innovations' Explorer Award which presents the firm with hosted introductions to Silicon Valley organisations and the means to get there through return flights and five nights accommodation.

2Mar designed and now manufactures the voice and iPhone controlled robot arm that assists people with spinal cord injuries, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, cerebral palsy and Parkinson's disease. The device can be mounted onto a wheelchair, bedside table, kitchen, or bathroom and came about through research with end users.

Partners in the venture include the Victorian Spinal Cord Injuries Unit, Austin Hospital, Australian Quadriplegics Association, Spinal Cord Injuries Association, and Paraquad South Australia. 2Mar was founded in Melbourne by 2012 Young Australian of the Year, Marita Cheng, in April 2013 and its stated goal is on "building beautiful robots that help us in our everyday lives".

Marita Cheng is positively changing lives through her 2Mar Robotics ventures.


The Tech23 Greatest Potential Award was won by Sabre Autonomous Solutions for its grit-blasting robot. Sabre also won London & Partners Discover Tech City Award, a free trip to London.

Sabre Autonomous Solutions is a University of Technology Sydney (UTS) spin-out company formed to commercialise the world's first autonomous grit blasting robotic system. The technology is the result of six years of collaborative research and development between the UTS, and the New South Wales Roads and Maritime Services.

So far, two fully operational autonomous Sabre grit blasting robots have been installed on the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the company is now developing other industry changing products that aim to reduce health and safety risks, increase productivity and improve quality in the abrasive blasting industry.

BuyReply was the crowd favourite at Tech23 this year, demonstrating its system which enables retailers to sell products straight from television or a catalogue without using apps.

BuyReply took  the Tech23 2013 People's Choice Award, winning a cash prize of $5000 sponsored by PayPal.

REA Group awarded its $5000 cash prize to FoodOrbit for developing a platform connecting farmers and restaurants. FoodOrbit also won a $1000 Visa gift card donated by Braintree.

SimplyShow.me won the $2500 cash from the AMP Amplify Festival for its new secure video solution.

NSW Trade & Investment awarded two MVP Grants worth $15,000 each to Sabre Autonomous Solutions and Intersective. Intersective creates experiential learning communities.


"This year there was a great variety of companies - from batteries to robots to skytrees," said Tech23 founder, Rachel Slattery of SlatteryIT.

"There was also more of a national feel than in past years with half of the Tech23 coming from outside NSW and many attendees visiting from interstate.

"It's great to see so many exciting technologies that can bring real impact to productivity but also new technologies that can really benefit the lives of people."

Tech23 is an annual event showcasing 23 exceptional start-ups. Tech23 was sponsored by NSW Trade and Investment, Amazon Web Services, NICTA, AMP Amplify Festival, Anchor, Citrix, CSIRO, London & Partners, UOW iAccelerate and muru-D.




UNLIKE most topics, scientists, politicians, educators and business people are all agreed: greater investment in innovation is vital for Australia's future economic, social and environmental success. Despite some notable winners, few disagree that Australia has hardly been a leader in innovation investment and many great opportunities have either gone begging entirely or gone begging to other countries.

The upcoming Innovation Series Sydney looks at boosting innovation investment.

How Australia may be able to change that investment environment is the topic of the November 15 Innovation Series event in Sydney: Investing in Australian Innovation - the challenges, risks and successes.

Two key players and influencers in that equation, investor and biotech start-up success, Michael Quinn of Innovation Capital, and venture capital markets specialist at the Department of Industry, David Wilson, will be providing their frank assessments at the luncheon event, being staged at the Westin Sydney on Friday.

While there has recently been a flurry of activity in Australia, trying to match local investment to the start-up technology sector, there is ongoing concern that Australia is not gaining sufficient traction and many vital opportunities are being lost or lost overseas.

The periodic raids on Australian early stage technology start-ups by Silicon Valley investors have stepped up in recent years, but both Mr Quinn and Mr Wilson will explain at the event how home-grown pathways can be developed to global markets and are likely to produce better results for Australia.

Mr Quinn's message is that while there seems to be vast investment opportunities in new technology businesses, the sector is volatile. In his experience, there are certain patterns and avoidable ‘new-tech' company risks that appear time and time again which can be recognised by investors. With such recognition, he believes Australian investors will step up.

While he will identify those risk patterns at the Innovation Series event, Mr Quinn strongly recommends astute investment in technology start-ups, partly because of the high financial rewards in getting it right, but also because the investor usually has the benefit of knowing they have helped bring through innovation that positively changes society

Michael Quinn is one of Australia's most experienced entrepreneurs and investors in innovative technology businesses. He is co-founder and managing partner of Innovation Capital, a venture capital fund that invests in early stage Australian technology businesses with global opportunities.

In 1983 he co-founded and was managing director of advanced membrane filtration company Memtec Ltd (ASX and NYSE), which was acquired in 1997 after attaining a market capitalisation of $660 million. Since 1992, Mr Quinn has also been a director of ResMed Inc (ASX and NYSE: RMD), which has become the leading manufacturer of respiratory and sleep disordered breathing products for the home health care market with a market capitalisation of $7.5billion, while he co-founded, and is still a director of, QRxPharma Ltd (ASX:QRX) which is developing drugs for acute pain.

David Wilson is the general manager for Research, Development and Venture Capital at the Department of Industry and his role is to help innovative businesses identify areas in which government assistance and incentives might be utilised to bring through innovation that may not otherwise be funded.

Mr Wilson will outline how the main vehicles for assisting business innovation are currently the R&D Tax Incentive and Innovation Investment Fund, programs through which the government intends to encourage participation, guide and educate business about the 'rules', and work to connect all the elements of Australia's innovation 'ecosystem'.

He will explain how the Innovation Investment Fund co-invests with private fund managers in early stage companies commercialising Australian R&D outcomes, and the Early Stage Venture Capital Limited Partnership program that provides tax concessions for private investors.

The Innovation Series started in Queensland in 2004 and provides a unique forum in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane convening researchers, industry and government to encourage the exchange of ideas and inviting new collaborations.

The Innovation Series in Sydney is supported by the Australian Institute for Commercialisation, Bayer, CSIRO,  ANSTO and Shelston IP. Business Acumen has been a media partner with the Innovation Series since 2004.




THE AngelEd Conference, an initiative from startup community veterans Innovation Bay and PushStart, was staged in Sydney on November 7 to better support Australia's high tech entrepreneurial community.

Australian tech start-ups might get their wings from the AngelEd Conference.

AngelEd is designed to help build a greater pool of knowledgeable angel investors who will help create more international success stories, organisers said.

The inaugural AngelEd Sydney 2013 -- sponsored by Macquarie Private Wealth, Deloitte and Deutsch Miller -- will be held tomorrow (November 7) in Sydney to help investors learn the risk, benefits and hype around angel investment specifically in the fast-growing technology category.

Even though there are estimated to be about 1500 tech start-ups in Australia right now, this is an asset class which has historically been very difficult to gain access to.

Aimed at those interested in the technology sector who are ready to diversify their investment strategy and keen to find out about angel investing from experts, AngelEd features a speaker line-up including Bill Bartee, Melissa Widner and Andrey Shirben.

“It's really important for our economy, skills and productivity to expand the angel investor asset class and help future generations of tech startups to flourish like we've seen internationally. AngelEd will contribute greatly towards this,” said Southern Cross Venture Partners managing director, Bill Bartee.

With an estimated 1500 technology startups in Australia, the tech innovation community is currently seeing a frenzy of activity but its growth is being limited by the relative lack of funding options around the $100,000 to $500,000 level.

Businesses at this stage need money and support to develop sales and marketing activities, scale their product or expand internationally, Mr Bartee said.

A recent survey of 72 investors showed that one quarter committed between $100,000 and $500,000 in Australia during 2012, with the majority below $100,000.

Australia’s startup scene could add $109 billion to the economy and 540,000 new jobs over the next 20 years, if fostered properly, according to a report on The Startup Economy from Google Australia.

“For the very early stage Aussie startups, there are dozens of incubators, events and mentoring schemes, but for what we term the 'establishing and emerging' category which needs investment ranging between $100,000 and $500,000, there's a dearth of tangible financial support,” said Ian Gardiner, co-founder of Innovation Bay & AngelEd.

“In our experience, however, these companies are ready to fly as they have established their business model and processes through rigorous evaluation from the various early stage pitch processes, and they have established their monetisation strategy, they simply need angel investment to scale their operations.

"AngelEd aims to build up that pool of high calibre investors so that the whole ecosystem benefits.” Mr Gardner said.

Innovation Bay currently offers Angel Investors one of Australia’s most notable startup pitching events, as a not-for-profit networking group "bringing together extraordinary people passionate about innovation, entrepreneurship and technology".

Over the last 10 years, Innovation Bay has seen more than 300 pitches at its Angel Dinners and helped Australian tech startups raise more than $10 million in seed capital, ranging from $100,000 to $500,000 in investment size.

PushStart runs activities for early stage Australian tech startups. Combining education, mentoring from experienced tech startup people both in Australia and around the world, and seed funding, the organisation gives local tech entrepreneurs help to start, grow and succeed.

To register for AngelEd Sydney 2013: http://angeled2013.tumblr.com/Register

AngelEd can be followed on Tumblr http://angeled2013.tumblr.com

Twitter: #AngelEd


THE PRIZE pool for the 23 young companies presenting at this year's Tech23 celebration of innovation, on October 29 in Sydney, is growing through new industry and government sponsored awards.

Tech23 is on October 29 in Sydney.

Tech 23 organiser, Rachel Slattery said significant cash prizes backed by industry heavyweights feature in this year's prize pool, with a $5,000 cash prize on offer from PayPal; $5,000 cash from REA Group plus a visit to their head office for digital business tips; $2,500 from AMP Amplify Festival; and $1,000 from Braintree. Supporter ATP Innovations will again take one Tech23 entrepreneur to Silicon Valley for a week of business education and meetings.

"There's also $45,000 worth of prize money thanks to NSW Trade and Investment," Ms Slattery said.

Ms Slattery said the Tech23 team was greatly encouraged by the industry support.

"This year's prizes show how dedicated the tech industry is to supporting young Australian start-ups," she said. "It's really heartening to see them getting behind innovation in practical, material ways."

One of the most valuable in-kind prizes is $10,000 worth of software development donated by ThoughtWorks. There is also the production of a promo video with multiplatform agency The Delicatessen; a two year premium developer partnership and marketing campaign from MYOB; a two year subscription to Saasu accounting plan; tailored set up with Controlabill; a managed virtual server thanks to Anchor; a start-up pack including workshops, legal and accounting services and BugHerd credit from The New Agency; and co-working space at ilab, NewportNet and Weco.

This year's Tech23 will see the awarding of the inaugural University Medal for student-led tech entrepreneurship sponsored by Sirca.

There are also what Ms Slattery called "priceless meetings with key industry leaders" to be won, including mentoring with the Advance program, Citrix, Google, Susan Wu, Matt Macfarlane from Yuuwa Capital, Nick Gruen of Kaggle fame, and Square Peg Capital.

Tech23 showcases the 23 most innovative Australian tech start ups for five minutes each. Panels of Industry Leaders then offer feedback and guidance.

The event sponsors are NSW Trade & Investment, NICTA, Anchor, AMP Amplify Festival, Citrix, CSIRO, and UOW iAccelerate.

This year's Tech23 finalists are:

121cast » 121cast.com » Personalised audio stream to increase productivity.

2Mar Robotics » 2mar.com » Robotic arm for people in wheelchairs

BuyReply » buyreply.com » Sell from any medium without apps

Edisse » edisse.com » Peace of mind in a watch

Ennova » ennova.com.au » Construction project delivery and collaboration platform

Food Orbit » foodorbit.com » Marketplace connecting local farmers and chefs

Geepers » geepers.com » User shortnames for Geo-physical locations

HSK Instruments » hskinstruments.com » Revolutionising respiratory physiotherapy for Kids worldwide

Instrument Works » instrument-works.com » Internet of Things for laboratories

Intersective » intersective.com » Connecting and enabling experiential learning communities

Kounta » kounta.com » Cloud based point of sale

Liquid State » liquid-state.com » Gutenberg for the digital age

My Myk » mymyk.com » Innovative audio solutions for DSLR filmmakers

Nano-Nouvelle » nanonouvelle.com.au » Ground breaking high performance battery materials

ollo mobile » ollomobile.net » ollo keeps kids and seniors safe

OneTouch » one-touch.co » Automated document processing in the cloud

Open Learning Global » openlearning.com » Student centred online learning platform

Roomz » roomz.com » Share a home. Simply and safely

SABRE Autonomous Solutions » sabreautonomous.com.au » World's first autonomous grit blasting robot

See-Out » ceeq.info » Visual search engine for trademarks

SimplyShow.me » simplyshow.me » Private and secure enterprise video messaging

SkyTree » getskytree.com » Reconnecting people with their food

Xped Corporation » xped.com » Launching the world's first device browser




Tech23 2013 Prizes:

Advance mentoring session.

Amplify Festival Most Promising Technology for Enterprise Application Award » $2,500.

ATP Innovations Explorer Award » Return flights to Silicon Valley, five nights accommodation, and meetings with investors, potential customers and serial entrepreneurs organised by ATP Innovations.

Braintree Best Payment Using Mobile » $1,000 Visa gift card.

Citrix Best Early Stage Company Award » 2 hour consultation with Citrix start-up accelerator.

Controlabill Best Subscription Business Model Prize » Strategic payments consulting from Controlabill founder, Stephen Coulter, on collection of recurring and other revenues including tailored etip with Controlabill implementation fee free.

The Delicatessen Agency Light Globe Moment Award » 2 x 4 hr sessions with Multiplatform Producer and Publicity / Social Media Consultant and creation of a 2 min promo video for your product / service.

Google Encouragement Prize » Lunch and mentoring session at Google in Sydney

ilab Germinate Program Award » Up to 6 months free desk plus data at ilab's Long Pocket Queensland facilities, participation in ilab's Germinate Program, commencing in December at Long Pocket, receiving up $20,000 for marketing, business and technical development.

MYOB Online Innovation for Small Business Award » Two years free MYOB Premium Developer Partnership and marketing campaign (up to $5k in value) to MYOB's 1 million+ SME customer base.

The New Agency Best Growth Hacking and Boot-Strapping Award » $3,000 in tailored workshops at The New Agency, 12 month premium plan from Bugherd ($1,188), $500 credit with General Standards on legal and accounting services, $200 credit for co-working at NewportNet.

Paypal creating opportunity together award » $5,000.

REA Group Purpose & Passion Prize » $5,000 cash and an opportunity to visit the REA Head Office in Melbourne for a tailored experience, centred around the techniques required for building a successful digital business.

Saasu Plan for the future award » 2 year subscription to Saasu (Extra Large Plan) with phone and email support.

Sirca University Medal for student-led tech entrepreneurship » Awarded to the most outstanding technology startup lead by a recent or current university student.

ThoughtWorks Getting Stuff Done Award » $10,000 worth of software development services.

Weco 24/7 co-working 2 month kickstart » 2 months free coworking for 1 person, or 1 month free coworking for 2 people.

Lunch with Nick Gruen.

Meeting with Susan Wu.

Mentoring with Matt » 2 x 1hr fundraising/startup mentoring sessions with Matt Macfarlane of $40m VC firm Yuuwa Capital.

Meeting with Square Peg Capital.


Tech 23, organized by SlatteryIT, is on Tuesday October 29 at The Auditorium, 37 Reservoir Street, Surry Hills NSW. Tech23 2013 presentations are from 9am-5.30pm. Awards celebration from 5pm-8.30pm.



AN EARLY OPPORTUNITY to hear expert opinion on what the Federal Government's new ‘positive action' on climate change will mean for business will come at Friday's Innovation Series luncheon in Brisbane.

Since 2004, Innovation Series events have given business leaders invaluable insights into new technologies and building innovation into organisations. Events are held in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

The theme of this luncheon, Green Growth - delivering a natural advantage for environmental sustainability and economic growth, is particularly timely following the recent Federal Election result, which heralds a change in approach to ‘green' economics that will modify behaviour in the business sector.

With the projected demise of the current Emissions Trading Scheme and Carbon Tax, business is considering its role in the ‘positive action' landscape proposed by the new Liberal-National Party Government.

This Queensland Innovation Series event delves deep into the realities of how organisations across Australia can and must re-shape themselves to maximise both environmental sustainability and profitability. This Innovation Series event also highlights the opportunities for Queensland to become a major regional hub for bio-based industries and, in doing so, build new sustainable industries to enhance the state's economic future.

Keynote speaker, John O'Brien is the founder and managing director of Australian CleanTech. He facilitates the Australian CleanTech Network that holds events around the country, providing opportunities for clean technologies (cleantech) collaboration - and he also publishes both the Australian CleanTech Index and the annual Australian CleanTech Review.

John O'Brien, founder of Australian CleanTech, also publishes both the Australian CleanTech Index and the annual Australian CleanTech Review.


Mr O'Brien will explain the drivers behind cleantech, review the business case for its adoption and provide examples of how industry is benefiting from moving early - and how cleantech can deliver a competitive advantage over the competition. He demonstrates how cleantech simply makes good business sense - especially as there are new government grants to help pay for its adoption.

Also presenting at the Innovation Series is Associate Professor Ian O'Hara, the leader for Bioenergy research at the QUT Centre for Tropical Crops and Biocommodities. From his experience, a key contributor to future growth will be the utilisation of residues from agriculture to produce fuels, chemicals and value-added bio-based products for markets in Australia and throughout Asia.

Prof. O'Hara's presentation will discuss the opportunities for Queensland to become a major regional hub for bio-based industries and, in doing so, build new sustainable industries to enhance Queensland's economic future.

Examining a lesser understood area of opportunity for business is Fiona Waterhouse, the CEO and executive director of Utilitas Pty Ltd - a specialist biogas asset development company which has a portfolio of biogas projects in Australia with a view to expanding throughout the Asia Pacific.

Her Innovation Series presentation will give an entrepreneur's view of unleashing what she calls the "the Green Growth opportunity" - which seems vast, she said, considering Australia throws away enough organic waste each year to power more than one million homes.

The Innovation Series events in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, organised by Zernike Australia,  provide a unique forum convening researchers, industry and government to address and discuss leading developments in sustainability, while also encouraging the exchange of ideas and inviting new collaborations.

The Brisbane event has operated since 2004 and is partnered by the Australian Institute for Commercialisation. QUT and CSIRO are Innovation Series platinum partners and Hynes Legal is the event's supporting gold partner.

Business Acumen has been a media partner for the Innovation Series since 2004.



AUSTRALIA'S Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) is calling for innovators to come forward with technologies, services or products that can help to drive the industry forward. Image GRDC, through its Innovation Investment program, is looking to capture ideas and concepts from any field that have the potential to improve the Australian grains industry.

"Anyone with an idea for a novel product, service or technology that could be of value to the grains industry is being encouraged to submit their concepts to the Grains Research and Development Corporation, said GRDC manager of Commercial Farm Technologies, Paul Meibusch.

He said the GRDC is aiming to invest up to $1.5 million per year in the program, with up to 10 short-term, proof-of-concept type projects to be contracted annually.

"The next round of applications is now open, and GRDC is welcoming submissions from private or public organisations as well as individuals, including potential co-investments with private companies," Mr Meibusch said.

Earlier this year, GRDC announced the start-up of the first five novel research projects under its new Innovation Investment program.

These projects will tackle emerging and established issues such as slugs and snails, fungus in crops and stored grain, blackleg disease in canola, and pre-harvest sprouting.

"GRDC is heavily focused on investment in projects that deliver real-time solutions to issues that are impacting on yield and profit, and the Innovation Investment program is an exciting new concept designed to enhance our capacity and ability to make a real impact at the grass-roots level," Mr Meibusch said.

He said proposals would be evaluated on their novel content and approach, likelihood of success, as well as the importance of the problem they address or opportunity they create.

Applications close on October 31, and further information about the Innovation Investment program is available through the website.



AUSTRALIA's two new Industry Innovation Precincts are likely to forge ahead and energise the food and manufacturing industries, no matter whether Labor or the Coalition wins the Federal Election on Saturday.

Albert Goller presents the Manufacturing Industry Innovation Precinct concept to the Innovation Series event in Melbourne earlier this year.

That's because, in an astute move by the Labor Government early this year, a select group of industry specialists - led by former George Weston Foods and Meadow Lea Ltd executive, Peter Schutz for the Food Industry Innovation Precinct and former Siemens Australia and New Zealand chief executive Albert Goller for the manufacturing sector - were invited to create these precincts in a way that will give long-term impetus for industry development, no matter who is in political power.

Mr Schutz and Mr Goller did the groundwork in establishing new structures that will fast track growth and develop new capabilities. Recently, governing boards and key staff have been appointed, while the precincts have already attracted the support of leading organisations including BASF Australia, Bombardier, GlaxoSmithKline, Agilent Technologies, Mars, Pepsico, Visy, Ashgrove Cheese, CSIRO, Monash University, Flinders University, and the University of Queensland.

The precincts have attracted little media attention during the Federal Election campaign - even though the plan is one of the most enlightened to come out of any Australian Government in recent times - because it is essentially industry driven and for the long term national interest.

Both industries are battling disruptive change and industry leaders are saying urgent action is needed to arrest Australia's decline in core capabilities stemming from the ongoing financial failures of key businesses and changes to national and international markets.

The solutions to these challenges are proving to be complex and the precincts are designed to evaluate and understand the problems and equip business leaders to re-shape and re-equip for future success.

The two precincts form part of the Australian Government's $1 billion Plan for Australian Jobs to improve outcome-based sharing of knowledge, skills and technology so that sectors are better able to identify and benefit from new business opportunities.

Innovation Minister, Senator Kim Carr said the Manufacturing Precinct (META) and the Food Precinct, Food Innovation Australia Ltd (FIAL), were open for business and now attracting high quality membership and staff.  Two months ago META and FIAL appointed two highly experienced industry leaders as chief executives to drive innovation and foster growth-oriented manufacturing businesses.

META's new chief executive officer, Zoran Angelkovski, has extensive experience in international manufacturing, manufacturing strategy and change implementation. Mirjana Prica has international experience in research and product commercialisation, and is now the inaugural managing director of FIAL.

Mr Angelkovski has extensive experience in international business and formulation of manufacturing strategies, having held a range of senior executive positions since 1992 including CEO of Continental Pty Ltd, VDO Automotive Malaysia managing director, and general manager of The Telco Crew Pty Ltd.

Dr Prica has a background in physical chemistry and has worked as a researcher for Food Science Australia and most recently for George Weston Foods where she was general manager for Analytical Services. Dr Prica has more than 20 years experience in food and agriculture industry business development, R&D and innovation.

Senator Carr said the precincts' leadership is important in transforming the manufacturing and food sectors.

"These high calibre appointments will drive business growth in two of our most important sectors. Both industry and the research sector have got behind the government's Industry Innovation Precincts and recognise the benefits they will deliver," Senator Carr said.

Senator Carr said META will have offices around the country, including a headquarters in Melbourne and a hub in Adelaide that will focus on defence.

FIAL's administrative headquarters is at LaTrobe University's Bundoora campus for the first 12 months of operations, he said.

Both precincts have a national focus.

More information about the Industry Innovation Precincts Program is available at http://www.aussiejobs.innovation.gov.au/programs/Industry-Innovation-Precincts/Pages/default.aspx


* The next Innovation Series event is in Brisbane on September 27, highlighting the topic Green Growth - delivering a natural advantage for environmental sustainability and economic growth.






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