High Impact Innovation from Industry & Research Collaboration

8 Apr 2018

iPREP WA Marshall Institute team with Christopher Tallentire MLA

iPREP WA Marshall Institute team with Christopher Tallentire MLA

Researchers strengthening their broad collaboration skills tackling the innovation demands of workplaces. The H1 2018 iPREP cohort presented their recommendations after six weeks of concentrated work. Multidisciplinary teams of PhD researchers from five different Universities with a number of commercial supervisors tackling on real corporate problems for paying clients.

Each of the teams showed entrepreneurial thinking of the challenges and presented strong recommendations to their corporate project sponsor. The presentations were supported by a report and presentation.

Focused on projects solving real workplace challenges. Four of the projects were innovating in the sector; optimizing wetland performance of future treatment technologies; environmentally sustainable solutions for sequester carbon using hemp, using data science to increase the efficiency of fertiliser use efficiency, optimizing the sniper precision agriculture system for grain growers.

The final team of the night had been working on Nobel Prize Barry Marshall's Noisy Gut initiative. Their work included recruiting study participants for data recordings using the Noisy Guts intelligent acoustic belt. The belt will provide doctors with a non-invasive way of screening for physical diseases with irritable bowel syndrome and other guts disorders.

It always amazes how quickly researchers adapt to workplace challenges and the exceptional input to the commercialisation of projects they deliver in such a short time.

What do the University PhD students most get out of this type of diverse engagement with industry partners?

- Increased business acumen

- Demonstrated problem solving

- Project management skills

- Cross-discipline teamwork

- Workplace skills translation

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Christopher Tallentire MLA, Parliamentary Secretary to the Western Australia Minister for Water, Fisheries, Forestry, Innovation and ICT, Science closed the formalities. Minister Tallentire highlighted the quality of the outputs as well as commenting on the value of research working with industry as well as collaboration across sectors for growing economies.

Vicki Hodgson MC'd the evening and iPREP Coordinator, Narelle Jones, concluded the event noting that the key theme for the success of all of the projects was optimisation and applying cross-discipline thinking to innovative commercial projects.

Technology Innovation Growing in the Food & Agriculture Industry

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The application of AgTech will create significant competitive advantages for nations as exporters and producers. In Australia, there is huge momentum building in technology-centric innovation activity in food and agriculture.

Australia has the primary production, research and expertise to provide agrifood and business tech on a serious scale. In particular,  Western Australia has a significant opportunity as a scale producer and exporter of value-added agriculture and premium to Asia, and new initiatives are focused on making resources and support available to entrepreneurs to help capitalize on this potential.

The next few years will be critical in developing more mature growth pathways that blend sector domain expertise with innovative technology and entrepreneurs. Hon Alannah MacTiernan, Western Australian Minister for Regional Development, and Agriculture and Food said that investing in AgTech development and applying new technologies is critical for the Western Australia’s competitiveness and productivity within this industry. 

“We are really excited about this project and the ability for us to provide people in this post start-up stage a real boost to their business which is fundamentally allowing farmers to take advantage of modern technology to farm better and to farm smarter,” Minister MacTiernan said.
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AgriStart’s HARVEST program is at the forefront of local initiatives supporting AgTech companies to develop and scale, and part of a wider ecosystem supporting the growth of the AgTech industry in Australia.

From edible crickets and big data to aerial surveying and wind turbine technology, Western Australia’s most innovative small businesses form the first cohort of the HARVEST program. These companies are at a point where they are ready to have a broader impact, so HARVEST is providing them export readiness guidance, access to networks and investment opportunities to support their next stage of expansion.

Convergio - Convergio are applying the latest technologies in computer vision, machine learning and data analytics to develop next-generation solutions for virtual simulation and economic modelling to enable farmers to improve yields, extend capacity, diversify products, enter new markets.

GeoMoby - GeoMoby technology provides cost-effective solutions to several problems in agriculture by coupling of real-time data with accurate position information, leading to efficient analysis of large amounts of geospatial. It supports applications including livestock tracking, fencing automation, lone worker tracking and farm mapping.

Grubs Up - Grubs Up is WA's first edible insect farm, providing an alternative to beef and lamb as a protein source for human food and animal feed. Grubs Up aims to scale up insect farming that is sustainable with a zero-waste system, with minimal environmental impact.

MALDIID - Identification of rhizobia, the critical soil bacteria needed for legumes to provide nitrogen to the soil, can be expensive and time-consuming. The MALDIID technology provides rapid and efficient rhizobia identification without the need to culture the bacteria, allowing farmers to manage their legume crops and pastures more effectively. 

Mapizy - Mapizy's machine learning platform can rapidly process satellite, drone and terrestrial imagery data and create an accurate inventory of crops, trees, weeds, pests and diseases. Equipped with this new type of information, agriculture businesses can make better decisions and improve performance.

P&A Pan - P&A Pan is a second generation, family run business that has traditionally grown fruit and vegetables. Their new venture involves soilless micro herbs grown in a sea container within a controlled environment, with the goal to be chemical free and use less water.

Precision Agronomics Australia - Precision Agronomics is focused on improving agricultural practises by developing customised soil mapping, data processing and machinery control solutions that help solve the practical problems for the world's farmers, such as reducing input and labour costs, optimising crop yield and quality, while minimising adverse environmental effects.

Scientific Aerospace - Scientific Aerospace is focused on designing and producing world-leading high precision aerial surveying solutions. Aerial surveying of soil & crop health will help farmers to identify plant vigour, pests, diseases and soil water content.

Windturbine - Windturbine is looking to solve issues with remote water pumping requirements for agriculture using renewable energy sources. The Windturbine solution combines wind and solar along with battery storage to provide a 24-hour pump on-demand solution to remote irrigation.

The first workshop of HARVEST program on Friday focused on a strategic business planning session and featured a line-up of expert speakers including Nicole Keating (CSBP), Peter May (DPIRD), Julian Coyne (AIIA), Greg Riebe from Triangle Capital Partners, Dr Natasha Ayers (AgriStart) and Adjunct Professor Peter Rossdeutscher (Atomic Sky).

The mentor-intensive program will feature 40 experts from around the world such as Trendlines AgTech, BayWa, CISCO, Wesfarmers, AgWorld, Austrade, GRDC, RuralCo and Plumb Grove.

Minister MacTiernan stated at the HARVEST launch; "We want to create an environment to support businesses to develop their ideas, technologies, business models and commercialise their products in global markets. Our local AgTech companies have the opportunity to come up with innovative technology-based solutions to make our agriculture and food industry more efficient, and capitalise on opportunities in growing export markets.”

WA Chief Scientist Peter Klinken highlighted the opportunity when opening the HARVEST launch event said it was essential for the WA agricultural industry to stay one step ahead of international competitors by taking seriously the investment into the development and innovation within the industry.

 “Let’s make sure we don’t sit on our hands and watch everyone else go past us. We don’t want future generations to wonder what we did when we had the opportunity. We want them to think ‘They did a good job”.

HARVEST was created and is delivered by AgriStart with support from Atomic Sky.  More information about the companies and programs can be found at www.agristart.com.au and www.atomicsky.com.au.

Digital First is Driving Innovation Opportunities with India

Atomic Sky India Leadership Panel - Tom Calder, Ashley Brown, Amit Kumar Mishra, Graeme Stanway

Atomic Sky India Leadership Panel - Tom Calder, Ashley Brown, Amit Kumar Mishra, Graeme Stanway

Like most governments, India has been investing heavily to lead its transformation to a digital-first nation. Amit Kumar Mishra, Consule General of India to Perth highlighted that providing greater transparency through e-governance technology, open access and nation-wide involvement are central themes to this transformation. Digital infrastructure projects, on-demand government services, mobile device adoption and cloud computing are extending services to citizens whilst providing them more direct involvement.

The vision areas of the Digital India initiative has 3 key vision areas:

  1. Digital Infrastructure as a Core Utility to Every Citizen
  2. Governance and Services on Demand
  3. Digital Empowerment of Citizens

As a domestic market the nation is also continuing to evolve as a strong massive
incubation ground for global technology platforms.

"India is on the move adopting and embedding innovation - from governments' wanting to using Big Data to change inefficient processes and make better decisions, corporates co-developing and embedding world-leading ideas into their global offerings and young Indians building startups and entrepreneurial careers. Australian know-how is well placed to complement India's needs, and can work collaboratively to the benefit of both nations building solutions in one of the world's fastest growing economies." (Tom Calder, former Trade Commission to Mumbai and current Austrade WA State Manager).

Dnyanesh Kelkar of Tech Mahindra similarly stated that Australia was for Indian companies both an important market and a potential source of innovative growth partners in many sectors.

The report also found that technology and social capability will underpin international expansion from the nation. KPMG's Ashley Brown expanded on this from his own experience helping larger organisations with their innovation strategies and in adapting to work with high growth SMEs. Ash concurred that socially responsible companies will outperform those who wait for government to frame social impact requirements.

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Graeme Stanway of VCI spoke at the event on the findings of their recently
launched State of Innovation Report. One of the findings from his interviews of C-level Executives across India was that the degree of independence of the India-China axis from the West. Reiterating that Australian companies should look to partner in these large Asian markets and grow globally from that base.

Australia is amongst the leaders in global education and high quality public research which plays a central part of strategic positioning and knowledge-centric competitive advantage. "While there's great emphasis in Australia on growing international education exports to India there are also opportunities in many other sectors - particularly those that build on our leading resources, energy and agriculture sectors. Industry-engaged universities can play key roles in building on these emerging linkages with India and the important Indo-Pacific region " (Mark Stickells,  The University of Western Australia).

Innovation Cluster & Atomic Sky - Training Session

Innovation Cluster and Atomic Sky joined to deliver an interactive presentation on commercialisation to the current team of iPREP PhD researchers, in an eccentric underground venue in Perth CBD.

Training session in the STUDIO STARTUP building in Perth CBD

Training session in the STUDIO STARTUP building in Perth CBD

What makes a good pitch? Andy Lamb from Atomic Sky spent the first part of the session running through the elements of a successful pitch.  Andy’s Lesson #1: Put the Audience first. What do they want to hear and what’s important to them? Not everyone can understand technical talk, it will fly right over the heads of the audience and attention will be lost, unless of course you're pitching to the technical team at the organisation. Know your audience. Andy also suggested to ‘Get to the point’ and ‘Practice, Practice, Practice.’  Read More...

New UWA Program to Encourage Budding Entrepreneurs

The University of Western Australia, through its IQ initiative, has kicked off a new program designed to encourage and foster entrepreneurship among researchers and post-graduate research students.

The Start Something initiative involves a series of speaking events and workshops which will culminate next month with selected participants using newly acquired skills to develop their ideas into potential business opportunities, from solving social problems to developing the next world-wide app.   Read more