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.


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 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


* 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.





GATHER three experts in medical research, nuclear medicine and food/bio science together and there are bound to be innovative discussions.

Prof. Warwick Anderson, NHMRC CEO.


That is precisely what is happening at the next Innovation Series luncheon event on August 21 at the Westin Sydney hotel, when three experts consider the topic Improving Lives through Innovation - delivering a healthy future for Australia.

This far-reaching forward-looking event will not completely escape the embrace of the imminent Federal Election, however, as the recurrent theme of the roll-out of the National Broadband Network (NBN) and its impact on delivering e-health solutions, especially to remote communities, is sure to feature in the discussions.

The view of Professor Warwick Anderson, CEO of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is that innovation and investment in research are vital elements as Australia addresses future health challenges.

Prof. Anderson has vast experience in the R&D field and will offer evidence that health and medical research may have already delivered health and wealth to Australia - but we are going to become even more reliant on new research and its rapid translation "to deliver better quality care, more cost-effective care and sunrise industries".

His topic, How innovation can help Australia develop a sustainable, high quality health care system, is of particular interest in the lead-up to the Federal Election, placing the approaches of all the major political parties in perspective. 

Launching Bayer's 150 year celebration in Australia recently are the German Consul General for NSW, Hans-Dieter Steinbach and Bayer's Jacqueline Applegate. Image: German-Australian Chamber of Industry and Commerce.


A global perspective, spanning a century and a half, on the value of innovation in healthcare and related industries is proven by the story of Bayer - an organisation with innovation in its DNA. The organisation was founded by Friedrich Bayer in 1863, in the German village of Wuppertal Barmen.

Bayer Australia and New Zealand senior representative, Dr Jacqueline Applegate will outline Bayer's fascinating history and its ongoing tradition of innovation and scientific R&D in life sciences, including plant, animal and human health. 

Dr Applegate, in her role as managing director for Bayer CropScience, will explain how Bayer continues to accelerate its role as an advocate for innovation in food and health sciences to assist communities globally.

The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) is one of the world's most prolific and successful developers and providers of medical isotopes - an area at the cutting edge of today's medical diagnosis and treatment capabilities.

Doug Cubbin, ANSTO general manager for International Commercial Partnerships, will outline the latest developments in nuclear medicine and its use in the diagnosis, management, treatment and prevention of serious disease - a fascinating and little-acknowledged area in which ANSTO is a world leader.

The Innovation Series provides 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 Innovation Series, developed by Zernike Australia, is presented in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane three times a year. Partners in the Innovation Series Sydney include the Australian Institute for Commercialisation, Bayer, CSIRO, ANSTO and Shelston IP. Business Acumen has been the media partner of the Innovation Series since its inception in Queensland in 2004.


THE University of Queensland's technology incubator, ilab, has been given the tick of approval by the Queensland Government, with funding granted for the next two years of operations. The incubator has also secured a new seed funding and private investment fund arrangement to assist some of its start-up companies, in alliance with Artesian Venture Partners and UniQuest.

Opengear is one of ilab's long-term success stories. Co-founders are Tony Merenda and Bob Waldie.


Established by the Queensland Government in 2000 - and now operated by The University of Queensland's main commercialisation company, UniQuest -  ilab assists entrepreneurs and early stage high tech companies through the first few years of development.

Financial challenges brought on by the global financial crisis and a change of State Government have in recent years overshadowed ilab's fine record in providing seed funding, team development and mentoring to offer many Queensland start-up technology companies a greater chance of success.  Ilab has incubated more than 100 start-up companies and helped them to raise over $70 million in grant and investment capital, generating close to 400 technology jobs.

Some of their better-known start-ups include Opengear, QRX Pharma. Liquid Animation. Grabba, Fusion Sport, Microwave and Materials Designs, Charm Health, Cleveland Biosensors and Redlflow.

The State Government funding will go towards continued support of ilab's Germinate programs, building on the success it has achieved over the past two years of its operation.

Germinate has invested almost $300,000 across 19 new enterprises and a further 17 companies have been supported by ilab resources and mentors.

The participants in the Germinate program have included Tiger Temple, an online street style clothing store; Veilability, a venue matching service for the bridal industry; and Fizziofit, which delivers exercise, medicine and fitness technology resources for healthcare professionals.

Ilab program director Leigh Angus said the funding approval was a sign of confidence in ilab and results from the successes that have been achieved by ilab in supporting early stage technology enterprises and their founders.

"We are thrilled at the announcement of the next round of funding which will enable us to continue our work to support entrepreneurs and technology start-ups as they develop and grow their ideas," Ms Angus said.

Further good news for ilab this week was the announcement of a private investment fund to be established in conjunction with Artesian Venture Partners and UniQuest.

UniQuest CEO, Dr Dean Moss said that agreement, reached recently with Artesian Venture Partners, will build a $1.5 million ‘Accelerate Investment Fund' which will invest in a subset of graduates from ilab's Germinate Program.

Mr Moss said, "ilab has been achieving excellent results and we are proud to come together with Artesian Venture Partners to build the Accelerate Investment Fund which will offer private investors a vehicle to invest in a number of the early stage start-up businesses coming through ilab," he said.

Artesian Venture Partners has committed to raising a majority of the $1.5 million fund and will be both investing in the fund itself and inviting private investors to participate.

Jeremy Colless, managing principal of Artesian Venture Partners, said the ilab incubator is already producing start-ups that are attractive to private investors and he is looking forward to the results that the collaboration will bring.

"The program and network access that ilab provides to its program participants accelerates and focuses their business development helping create robust, scalable ventures for angel and other early stage investors," Mr Colless said.

"We are looking forward to working with UniQuest in establishing the investment fund, supporting early stage start up businesses and producing successful commercial outcomes from the burgeoning Queensland tech start-up community."



UQ Holdings Pty Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of The University of Queensland (UQ), acquired ilab in 2009. With continued funding from the State Government, ilab has become an independent division of another UQ Holdings subsidiary, UniQuest, with its own funding, staffing and management structure.  ilab is supported by the Queensland Government.



UniQuest is the main commercialisation company of The University of Queensland (UQ), specialising in the commercialisation of intellectual property, research outcomes and expertise.  UniQuest delivers commercialisation outcomes which are valuable for UQ and profound for business, the environment, global communities and society as a whole. UniQuest's two business offerings - IP Commercialisation and Expertise Commercialisation - are designed to support UQ's global strategy, industry engagement and reputation for excellence.

UniQuest benchmarks in the top 10 percent globally for university-based technology transfer. UniQuest-licensed UQ innovations are now generating annual sales of $3 billion.  UQ superconductor technology, through licensing arrangements, is used in two-thirds of the world's MRIs and more than 79 million doses of the life-saving Gardasil cervical cancer vaccine, patented by UniQuest in 1991, have been distributed throughout 121 countries, including 72 developing countries.



THE digital revolution is a vehicle for positive change and improvement in many industries - and none moreso than healthcare - but many business leaders are struggling to understand its long term ramifications. That is the emphasis of a special Innovation Series event in Melbourne next Wednesday which features three leaders in the field explaining how digital technologies are already impacting Australia's community and business futures in ways that are not generally understood.

John Sheridan, CEO of Digital Business insights.


The theme, Digital Innovation Enabling Healthcare Solutions, is of particular interest at this time, with healthcare widely cited as being an early beneficiary of the roll-out of the National Broadband Network and other improvements in Australia's connectivity.

Whether the healthcare productivity ‘dividend' that is anticipated from the digital revolution comes about could be more a factor of how the technology is rolled out and accepted by both health care professionals and patients as it is about timeframes and connectivity speeds.

That is a major point Digital Business insights (DBi) CEO John Sheridan will hammer home, tapping into his 12 years of detailed research into the digital revolution - especially his most recent study which maps the digital economy of Melbourne's northern Local Government areas. 

Mr Sheridan paints a compelling picture of what the digital revolutions really is, based on DBi's analysis of more than 50,000 business surveys in Australia. He also points out what it isn't - especially where conventional wisdom and the ‘official' views of the digital revolution vary markedly from what DBi's detailed, long-term research reveals. Mr Sheridan offers surprising insights into what that implies for the future of health care.

At the frontlines of health care, the need for fast, effective, reliable information technology has never been greater. Digital systems are the cornerstone of effective future health care, according to Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS) general manager for Internal Investments, Philip Robinson.

But the digital revolution is doing more than changing methods of health care, it is also changing the relationship between health care frontline staff and their patients - and this is a focus of Mr Robinson's presentation.

RDNS wants to help older Australians to stay in their homes longer, and to reduce hospital admissions via increased use of Telehealth services delivered over high-speed broadband. Mr Robinson will discuss the drivers for increased use of Telehealth and the productivity gains obtained by RDNS as a result of using virtual nursing services via Telehealth.

Mr Robinson has written major submissions for the Digital Regions Initiative (for Stroke Management and Aged Care Assessment), the Broadband Enabled Innovation Program (for Medication Management) and the NBN Telehealth Pilot Program (for Chronic Disease Management).

He has managed a number of strategic projects for RDNS including establishment of an ICT Strategic Plan, Remote Patient Management of Medication Compliance via video-conferencing, establishment of an enterprise Video-Conferencing System and the introduction of smartphone-based mobility solutions for personal care workers.

With economic forecasting predicting that, by 2043, Australia's current model of health service delivery will consume 40 percent of all Australian taxes, and health expenditure by State Governments exceeding their total forecast revenues, the views of CSIRO's specialist in this area, Dr Ian Oppermann, will highlight these ramifications at the Innovation Series event.

Dr Ian Oppermann, CSIRO.


As the director of the CSIRO's Flagship for Digital Productivity, Dr Oppermann is navigating the many digital options that can assist the healthcare sector in combating what he describes as "a changing case mix and an identified productivity gap of around 20 percent".

Digital health information systems and technologies, broadband communications and big data analytics are all areas which Dr Oppermann believes can help provide cost-effective services in Australia's health system, offering better access to the regions, greater efficiency and higher quality health care.

The Innovation Series, now in its ninth year, provides 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 Innovation Series is an initiative of Zernike Australia and is supported nationally by the Australian Institute for Commercialisation and CSIRO, while in Melbourne the sponsors are ANSTO and RMIT university. Business Acumen is the media partner for the Australian Innovation Series.



THE Australian Government’s Food Industry Innovation Precinct, which attracted food manufacturing leader Peter Schutz to come out of retirement to chair and form the organisation, will be established initially at La Trobe University’s R&D Park Bundoora campus, in Melbourne’s north.

The Food Industry Innovation Precinct has landed in Melbourne, but it will assist high potential growth farming areas like the Cairns region, too.


The Food Industry Innovation Precinct board accepted an offer from La Trobe University and Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) to host the precinct for an interim 12 month period.

The Bundoora campus provides access to key infrastructure such as pilot plant and food preparation and tasting laboratories and is close to food industry partners in sectors such as dairy, confectionary, meat and cereal.

As part of the government’s $504.5 million Industry Innovation Precincts initiative, Minister for Climate Change, Industry and Innovation, Greg Combet, said establishing the precinct at the R&D Park would enable it to start building opportunities for Australia’s food industry and meeting the goals of the National Food Plan.

“The industry is already a major exporter, however the precinct will ensure it is able to develop the capacity and capability to take advantage of export industries in the Asian century,” Mr Combet said.

Peter Schutz


“This industry-led initiative will help to make the food sector more attractive to investment.

“Establishing the precinct at R&D Park for an initial 12 month period will enable all potential hosts to prepare more detailed bids to host the precinct permanently.”

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Joe Ludwig, said the precinct was an important element of implementing the National Food Plan released last month.

“This will help us work towards the National Food Plan goal to increase the value of Australia’s agriculture and food-related exports by 45 percent by 2025,” Mr Ludwig said.

“The Food Industry Innovation Precinct is a national initiative. Supported by the Industry Innovation Network, the precinct will help collaboration right across Australia’s food and beverage industry.

“The new precinct will build more links between researchers, producers and food businesses to accelerate commercially-driven collaboration and innovation.

“An important aim is to support growth in Australia’s market share of processed food exports to existing and new markets.”

The Industry Innovations Precincts Program is a part of the Australian Government’s $1 billion Plan for Australian Jobs.

The other precinct named is for the manufacturing sector and is chaired by former Siemens Australia and Asia Pacific chief, Albert Goller.

It will also be primarily located in Melbourne, with an Adelaide base for Defence manufacturing. Another eight precincts are planned for various industry sectors around Australia, according to Mr Combet.





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