2016 TT Sector Wrap Up

2016 has been a big year for technology transfer offices in Australia. As we all know, commercialising research is a tough gig and some deals are many years in the making.  The beginning of a new tradition, KCA has compiled a highlights list from offices around the country to celebrate the achievements of the membership across the year just gone.  You may have heard of some of these achievements throughout the year, but its always nice to look at these things in summary, and consider at what has been accomplished as a group.  Below are some top 3 highlights from offices within the KCA community who were able to participate in the exercise this year.

ANSTO

  • Successful technology transfer and scale up of the ANSTO Minerals Sileach™ process with Lithium Australia.  More info here.
  • ANSTO in partnership with Minomic have successfully developed the MILGa drug for SPECT diagnosis of certain cancers. Minomic is mid-way through a Phase 1 clinical trial.  Story here.
  • ANSTO Health obtained a license from the TGA for production of Lutetium 177, an emerging therapeutic isotope for a range of cancers.  Story here.

CSIRO

  • Launch and expansion of the ON Accelerator to all Public Sector Research Organisations and Universities funded through NISA.  More info here.
  • The announcement of the $200 million CSIRO Innovation Fund to be operational in 2017 and also available to all Public Sector Research Organisations and Universities. More info here.
  • 5 spin outs/equity deals in calendar 2016 and $60m in IP (royalty and licensing) revenue in 2015/16 FY (Chryos, Cardihab, MetaBloQ, Smart Battery)

Curtin

  • West Tech Fest, which incorporates the OzAPP Awards judging, a Startup Village, pitching opportunities, an angel investor dinner, student tech fest, technology startup events and an industry conference.
  • Curtin spinout ePAT technologies listed on the ASX completing a $4.7 million capital raise.
  • Curtin completed a deal with Australian mining services company, Gekko Systems to commercialise a breakthrough gold processing monitoring technology.  Story here.

DST Group

  • HPRNet – DST Group in partnership with the Australian Army has established new model for establishing research networks(Rnet) of Australian Universities to undertake research in areas of interest to Defence .  The first such RNet is a joint initiative of DST Group and the Australian Army which has brought together 7 Australian universities to work in the area of the advancement of human performance . Next year will see this model being used in other technology areas.
  • External Engagement Manager program – 12 month professional development and immersive program whereby  DST researchers are appointed as their respective Research Division’s External engagement manager. As a result of the program researchers have not only increased their business acumen and commercial skills but 60% of the researchers have gained promotions back inside their research areas.
  • CERA business model – Devised the business model whereby the Defence Science Institute (DSI) released a pilot Competitive Evaluation Research Agreement (CERA) program, which sought research proposals from Australian universities relating to projects of Defence strategic importance. In a highly competitive field DSI made award grants of up to $50k each to seed collaborations. The strongest applicants were able to collaborate and engage with Australian industry and International partners. Given the success of the pilot program DST Group has requested the program be continued in the coming financial year.

Griffith

  • Griffith University and agricultural product company Agnova Technologies collaborated to produce Fruition, the nation’s first non-toxic commercial response to fruit flies.  Story here.
  • Student enterprise (student entrepreneurial education is a key growth area for Griffith.  Story here.
  • Olymvax invests in Griffith vaccine for Strep A.  Story here.

LaTrobe

  • La Trobe establishes the new Office of the Pro Vice-Chancellor (Industry Engagement). Story here.
  • Unlocking regional Victoria’s big ideas – LaunchVic funded Regional Accelerator Program.  Story here.
  • Optus and La Trobe tech-collaboration to deliver an integrated, digitally connected campus; a state-of-the-art Sports Precinct of the Future; and creation of a market leading Cyber Security tertiary degree.  Story here.

Macquarie

  • Macquarie University has had one or more team(s) in every CSIRO ON program that were eligible to Universities; Modular Photonics in ACCELERATE 2, LuciGem, FAIMS and Diamond Lasers in PRIME and LuciGem in ACCELERATE 3.
  • 2016 has seen over a double increase in Innovation Disclosures since 2015 (57 as of 08 Dec 2016)
  • We arranged a educational and fun team bonding session with the Research Office, Office of Commercialisation and Innovation and Corporate Engagement by holding a 1 day negotiation training workshop.

Monash

  • BioCurate is an $80M collaboration between Monash and the University of Melbourne established to transform our ability to translate our world class biomedical research into new therapeutic products.  Story here.
  • Monash University spinout Amaero Engineering entered into a major production deal with French based multinational company Safran to produce 3D printed parts for Safran. Story here and here.
  • Monash and Hudson Institute of Medical Research entered into a major commercialisation and co-development deal to develop next generation immunology therapeutics. Story here.

UniQuest

  • A €15 million (A$22 million) Series A investment (one of the largest biotech Series A investments for intellectual property originating from an Australian university) in Inflazome Ltd, a company founded on research from UQ and Trinity College Dublin, developing treatments for inflammatory diseases.  Story here.
  • UniQuest’s Queensland Emory Drug Discovery Initiative (QEDDI) became a fully-equipped and operational drug discovery and development capability, with facilities and staff based at UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience.
  • UQ spinout company Protagonist Therapeutics Inc. listed on the NASDAQ stock market, raising US$90 million (A$118 million) in its initial public offering, (story here), while ResApp is developing a smartphone medical application for the diagnosis and management of respiratory disease, and has raised more than A$16 million since listing on the Australian Stock Exchange in 2015 (story here).

UniSA Ventures

  • UniSA’s Venture Catalyst program voted Australia’s Best Entrepreneurial Support Initiative in the KCA Awards.  Story here.
  • UniSA signed a MoU with one of China’s leading drug development and pharmaceuticals manufacturers, to support the development of new drugs, and treatments in stem cell biology and drug reformulation technology.  Story here.
  • UniSA  launched a new strategic plan for research and innovation to fast-track the development of high potential innovations through UniSA Ventures.  Story here.

UNSW Innovations

  • China Cable deal worth $20m that was KCA deal of the year.  Story here.
  • Quantum Computing deal which saw $25m of Commonwealth funding through NISA, and $10m each from CBA and Telstra to develop a prototype circuit.  Story here.
  • Torch Innovation Precinct announcement that the first Torch Science Park outside China would be set-up at UNSW.  More info here.

UWA

  • A new drug for the treatment of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) originally developed at The University of Western Australia has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.  Story here.
  • The first ever Western Australian Innovation Strategy was launched by the Minister for Innovation, the Hon Bill Marmion, on 2 November 2016.  Story here.
  • An increase in support activity for entrepreneurship and innovation in Perth, i.e. CERI is an independent, not-for-profit organisation that has been set up to work closely with local researchers to assist them in developing entrepreneurial skills and to then take them through the Innovation Process, with the goal of assisting them to establish a startup company.

Victoria

  • Researchers at Victoria University have joined forces with Phillip Island Nature Parks to develop a ‘wand’ that harvests oil absorbing  magnetic particles in order to save the lives of penguins and other birds contaminated after an oil spill event.  Story here.
  • A patent and trademark technology licence to a company in Japan to commercialise innovative insole technology develop at ISEAL (Institute of Sport, Exercise & Active Living) research institute as well as leveraging our reputation and famous associated brand. The insoles have major biomechanical advantages over the existing products in the market. Deals are currently being negotiated with major insole and shoe manufacturers and distributors in Asia and beyond to bring this inventive product to market.
  • A patent technology licence to an Australian company to exploit membrane distillation technology. The technology has energy and practical advantages that the company has secured investment and is building a pilot plant to scale up the technology. The company already has end market customers interested in using the technology in a broad range of industrial applications.

World-first career framework for Technology Transfer Professionals published

Strategic thinking, business and commercial acumen plus the ability to communicate and influence are some of the identified skills required by Technology Transfer Professionals (TTPs) to effectively take research to market says the World’s first TTP Capability Framework published today.

Entitled Knowledge Transfer in Australia: Is there a route to professionalism?  the new Framework is the result of intensive research where 103 TTPs, 31 stakeholders and 64 Australasian organisations were interviewed and surveyed.

To date TTPs have lacked clear and identifiable career paths.  While commercialising publicly funded research is relatively new, the drive from external stakeholders such as Government and business to “do better” has escalated the need to better define the practice, and outline what is required to effectively put research to use in both an ethical and competent manner.

Knowledge Commercialisation Australasia (KCA) therefore commissioned the development of a world-first career Capability Framework that defines the skills, knowledge, behaviours and values required by a team taking research to market, and outline career paths for those working in the role at different levels.

The KCA framework describes up to 200 desired capabilities for TTPs, divided into seven clusters and sixteen sub-clusters, and classified by development stages: early-career, mid-career and senior level.

KCA_infographic_landscape_23-05-16_WEB.jpg

Study participants perceived the skills of Australasian TTPs to be strong in the area of intellectual property advice and knowledge transfer, plus the qualifications and experience of those in the industry is well respected. The skills requiring the most development are in the areas of business acumen, communications and influence, legal compliance and advice, marketing and relationships, social media, and strategy and results.

KCA Chair and Director of Monash Innovation at Monash University, Dr Alastair Hick said with increased demand and interest in improving the transfer of research to market, the KCA Framework comes at the right time. It will fit well with the range of initiatives in the National Science and Innovation Agenda as we move to ensure Australian research has the best chance to have impact for the Australian economy and society more broadly.

“To date there has been a lot of discussion about Australia’s record of translating research success into commercial uptake and jobs creation, with much of it focussing on the researcher. However, technology transfer professionals play a vital role in commercialising research out of research organisations so ensuring they have the right skills and development are crucial to this commercial success. The framework is helping us to benchmark our performance and skills and see where KCA can provide additional training opportunities for our members” said Dr Alastair Hick, KCA Chair and Director of Monash Innovation, at Monash University.

In March 2015, the Professional Standards Council awarded a $98,000 grant to KCA to develop the framework for the professional competency standards of the technology transfer sector.

“No one else in the world has achieved anything like the KCA framework, which focuses on the skills technology transfer professionals need, rather than just job titles or roles. Our international counterparts have said they are keen to receive the framework as they will find it valuable for their professional development pathways,” said Dr Hick.

‘The Capability Framework we have developed provides benchmarks for technology transfer professionals (TTPs), against which the performance of individuals and teams can be measured.

“A digest of the Framework will be provided to KCA Members as a toolkit to improve recruitment practices, select targeted professional development, communicate their capabilities to stakeholders, and enable informed self-assessment and career planning.

“Researchers and industry stakeholders can also use the Framework to improve their understanding of the role of TTPs, thereby promoting more transparent, accountable and productive partnerships,” said Dr Hick.

Recommendations for KCA and similar organisations include the development of a Code of Ethics for the TTP sector; focused education programs to address the identified skills gaps; secondment and mentoring programs involving Technology Transfer Offices and industry stakeholders and a formal processes for stakeholder feedback on the performance of TTPs.

“We are delighted to see this report, as it tackles the issue of advancing knowledge exchange and commercialisation by providing insights to build Australian industry,” said Dr Deen Sanders, Chief Executive Officer of the Professional Standards Council.

“It also shows that this sector is taking a serious and strategic approach to raising standards and becoming a profession.”

KCA is having discussions with the Alliance of Technology Transfer Professionals (ATTP), the global alliance of professional technology transfer associations, to see how it might be applied internationally in order to recognise excellence.

The project team comprised of technology commercialisation consultancy gemaker (associate members of KCA), Dr Hick and KCA Executive Officer, Melissa Geue with gemaker Co-founder Athena Prib leading the team.

About Knowledge Commercialisation Australasia (KCA)

KCA is the peak body leading best practice in industry engagement, commercialisation and entrepreneurship for research organisations. We achieve this through expert delivery of stakeholder connections, professional development and advocacy.

About gemaker

gemaker works with Australia’s smartest people connecting them to expertise, customers and funders as needed across the full innovation process of taking new ideas to market. A team of technical and commercial specialists commercialising new technologies, products and services for research organisations, SMEs and start-ups in the advanced manufacturing, education, environmental, ICT, medical, mining, new materials and nuclear sectors. gemaker is an associate member of KCA.

About Professional Standards Councils (PSCs)

PSCs work to improve professional standards and protect consumers of professional services across Australia. Professional Standards Councils are independent statutory bodies established in each state and territory. They have specific responsibilities under professional standards legislation for assessing and approving applications for, and supervising the application of, Professional Standards Schemes. PSCs and their agents work together in a partnership approach to regulation that both enhances Australia’s consumer protection regime and promotes the vital role professions play in our economy.

Media Contact: Sharon Kelly (gemaker), E: sharon@gemaker.com.au M: +61 414 780 077

Celebrating Australian Success – Translating Knowledge & Research into Business

Release date: Friday, 2 September 2016

UNSW, Curtin University and UniSA are research commercialisation winners

The University of New South Wales (UNSW), Curtin University (WA) and the University of South Australia (UniSA) were winners at the Knowledge Commercialisation Australasia (KCA) Research Commercialisation Awards, announced last night at its annual conference dinner in Brisbane.

Success lay with UNSW which won Best Commercial Deal for securing $20 million capital investment from Zhejian Handian Graphene Tech; Curtin University for the Best Creative Engagement Strategy with The Cisco Internet of Everything Innovation Centre; and UniSA won Best Entrepreneurial Initiative and the People’s Choice Award for its Venture Catalyst which supports student led start-ups.

KCA Chair and Director of Monash innovation at Monash University, Dr Alastair Hick, said it was important that commercialising research successes are celebrated and made public.

KCA member organisations work incredibly hard at developing new ways to get technology and innovation out into industry being developed into the products and services of tomorrow. These awards recognise that hard work and also that we must develop new ways of improving the interface between public sector research and industry. I am also excited that KCA members are playing an increasing role in helping the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. It is essential that we help develop their entrepreneurial skills and give them the opportunities in an environment where they can learn from skilled and experienced mentors,” said KCA Chair, Dr Alastair Hick

Details of the projects are as follows:

Best Commercial Deal

1387-1485
(Dr Hua Fan, UNSW Innovations (left) and Dr Alastair Hick, KCA (right))

Zhejian Hangdian Graphene Tech Co (ZHGT) – University of New South Wales (UNSW)

This is an initiative to fund and conduct research on cutting-edge higher efficiency voltage power cables, known as graphene, and on super-capacitors. With $20M capital investment by the Chinese corporation Hangzhou Cable Co., Ltd (HCCL), and UNSW contributing intellectual property as a 20% partner, the objectives are to execute the deal through research and development; manufacturing of research outcomes in Hangzhou; and finally commercialisation.

Best Creative Engagement Strategy

1387-1488.jpg
(Mr Rohan McDougall, Curtin University (left), Dr Alastair Hick, KCA (right))

Cisco Internet of Everything Innovation Centre – Curtin University
The Cisco Internet of Everything Innovation Centre, co-founded by Cisco, Curtin University and Woodside Energy Ltd, is a new industry and research collaboration centre designed to foster co-innovation. With a foundation in radioastronomy, supercomputing and software expertise, it is growing a state-of-the-art connected community focused on leveraging data analytics, cybersecurity and digital transformation network platforms to solve industry problems. The Centre combines start-ups, small–medium enterprises, industry experts, developers and researchers in a collaborative open environment to encourage experimentation, innovation and development through brainstorming, workshops, proof-of-concept and rapid prototyping. By accelerating innovation in next-generation technologies, it aims to help Australian businesses thrive in this age of digital disruption.

Best Entrepreneurial Initiative & People’s Choice

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(Ms Jasmine Vreugdenburg, UniSA (left) and Dr Alastair Hick, KCA (right))

Venture Catalyst Program – UniSA
Venture Catalyst supports student led start-ups by providing up to $50k to the new enterprise as a grant. The scheme targets current and recent graduates who have a high tolerance for risk and an idea for a new business venture that is both novel and scalable. The scheme takes an ‘IP and equity free’ approach and encourages students to collaborate with different disciplines and externals to encourage a diverse skill set for the benefit of the new venture. Venture Catalyst is a collaboration between the UniSA and the South Australian Government, and is supported through UniSA Ventures as well as representatives from industry and experienced entrepreneurs.

This year’s awards are judged by commercial leaders of innovation: Erol Harvey, CEO, MiniFab, Dan Grant, PVC Industry Engagement, LaTrobe University and Anna Rooke, CEO, QUT Creative Enterprise Australia.

Media Contact: Sharon Kelly (gemaker), E: s.kelly@gemaker.com.au M: +61 414 780 077

Celebrating Australian Success – Translating Knowledge & Research into Business

Release date: Thursday, 25 August 2016

From cancer detection to mining maintenance algorithms and supporting student entrepreneurship – commercialising research finalists announced

Commercialising research and supporting student entrepreneurship – from improved cancer detection to mathematical algorithms to manage mine maintenance – will be honoured next week at Knowledge Commercialisation Australasia (KCA) Annual Conference in Brisbane (1-2 September) with finalists now revealed for the KCA Awards.

The KCA Awards recognise research organisations’ successes in expertly facilitating the transfer of knowledge to the broader community and research into products or services where companies grow new industries in Australia.  This year they have also expanded to recognise the great work that research organisations are doing teaching high-impact entrepreneurship and immersing stakeholders in a diverse range of hands on business training.

This year’s Awards include Best Commercial Deal, Best Creative Engagement Strategy and Best Entrepreneurial Initiative. The winners will be announced at the conference Awards Dinner on Thursday, 1 September.

The finalists are as follows:

Best Commercial Deal

Mine Maintenance Scheduling via Mathematical Optimisation – Curtin University, Western Australia
This unique innovation involves a series of cutting-edge mathematical algorithms that underpin a novel software package for optimising mine shutdown maintenance. The algorithms produce optimal shutdown schedules that minimise duration and therefore cost of lost production, plus rapidly reorganise the schedule in response to unexpected changes. This is the result of research collaboration between Curtin University and Linkforce Engineering, the leading engineering services group in Western Australia. The resulting software package is currently undergoing further development and refinement prior to deployment into Australia’s multi-billion dollar mine shutdown maintenance market.

Zhejian Hangdian Graphene Tech Co (ZHGT) – University of New South Wales (UNSW)
This is an initiative to fund and conduct research on cutting-edge higher efficiency voltage power cables, known as graphene, and on super-capacitors. With $20M capital investment by the Chinese corporation Hangzhou Cable Co., Ltd (HCCL), and UNSW contributing intellectual property as a 20% partner, the objectives are to execute the deal through research and development; manufacturing of research outcomes in Hangzhou; and finally commercialisation.

Launch of Ferronova Pty Ltd – University of South Australia (UniSA)
Researchers at the UniSA’s Future Industries Institute have joined forces with New Zealand based nanoparticle specialist, Boutiq Science, and major IP investor, Powerhouse Ventures, to develop an improved system for cancer detection that relies on magnetic rather than radioactive tracers. Research to develop the new technology – an ultrasensitive magnetometer probe designed to be about the size of a ball-point pen – evolved from the doctoral work of young UniSA researcher, Dr Aidan Cousins, who is now overseeing the technology’s development in collaboration with Associate Prof Benjamin Thierry. This work is part this new company – Ferranova Pty Ltd – established to take this innovation into the clinic.                                               

Best Creative Engagement Strategy

Lab 22 – CSIRO
CSIRO established the Lab22 Innovation Centre to demystify metallic additive manufacturing (‘3D printing’), making this science and engineering breakthrough accessible to Australian industry. Lab 22 is a multi-faceted engagement strategy, underpinned by ongoing research that enables industrial partners to test, experience, up-skill, and build business cases that take advantage of these cutting-edge technologies. Industry partners have co-developed commercial applications, licensed technologies and co-located with Lab22. Thousands of individuals have engaged in site visits. The engagement strategy continues to generate collaborations and innovation, build industrial capability, inform the public and push the boundaries of accessible metallic additive manufacturing.

Swinburne Bioreactor – Swinburne University of Technology
The Swinburne Bioreactor represents a new model for creative collaboration that is suited to SME’s, and includes nine industry partners and 10 PhD candidates. Together they identify and pursue the most promising opportunities for translational research to produce industry-ready PhD graduates with the confidence to look for opportunities in the private sector. Multidisciplinary groups of students and are spending time in hospitals, clinics, aged-care facilities and on the factory floor, talking to end-users and industry partners and looking for gaps in the market. Supported by mentors from industry and academia, the students are seeking to identify key insights into problems that open up potential for innovative solutions.

Cisco Internet of Everything Innovation Centre – Curtin University
The Cisco Internet of Everything Innovation Centre, co-founded by Cisco, Curtin University and Woodside Energy Ltd, is a new industry and research collaboration centre designed to foster co-innovation. With a foundation in radioastronomy, supercomputing and software expertise, it is growing a state-of-the-art connected community focused on leveraging data analytics, cybersecurity and digital transformation network platforms to solve industry problems. The Centre combines start-ups, small–medium enterprises, industry experts, developers and researchers in a collaborative open environment to encourage experimentation, innovation and development through brainstorming, workshops, proof-of-concept and rapid prototyping. By accelerating innovation in next-generation technologies, it aims to help Australian businesses thrive in this age of digital disruption.

Best Entrepreneurial Initiative

Venture Catalyst Program – UniSA
Venture Catalyst supports student led start-ups by providing up to $50k to the new enterprise as a grant. The scheme targets current and recent graduates who have a high tolerance for risk and an idea for a new business venture that is both novel and scalable. The scheme takes an ‘IP and equity free’ approach and encourages students to collaborate with different disciplines and externals to encourage a diverse skill set for the benefit of the new venture. Venture Catalyst is a collaboration between the UniSA and the South Australian Government, and is supported through UniSA Ventures as well as representatives from industry and experienced entrepreneurs.

Curtin Accelerate – Curtin University
Curtin Accelerate enables motivated individuals and teams to kick-start or accelerate their business ideas. Over a ten-week period experienced mentors work with selected teams to improve and grow their business into an investible proposition. The program is open to students, staff and alumni of Curtin, with any innovation or new business idea. This provides access to global industry and investment contacts, one-on-one and group mentoring sessions, non- diluting seed funding ($5,000), local and national promotional opportunities and assists teams to bring ideas and businesses closer to commercial success.

The Swinburne Innovation Precinct – Swinburne University of Technology
Swinburne University of Technology has created an Innovation Precinct at its Hawthorn Campus which will position Swinburne as a centre of entrepreneurial activity, integrating research, new business development and commercialisation. Focusing broadly on tech innovation, including novel technologies, services and businesses, the Precinct will drive design thinking across the University and lead research and development that results in new products such as digital health technologies, smart homes and virtual reality training. The precinct will also utilise design and digital technologies to address manufacturing challenges and pilot production and fabrication processes in collaboration with industry.

This year’s awards are judged by commercial leaders of innovation:  Erol Harvey, CEO, MiniFab, Dan Grant, PVC Industry Engagement, LaTrobe University and Anna Rooke, CEO, QUT Creative Enterprise Australia.

Media Contact: Sharon Kelly (gemaker), E: s.kelly@gemaker.com.au M: +61 414 780 077

 

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”

volunteers-quotes-quotesgram-ltsxI1-quote
One of the great things about living in Australia is the level of volunteering across all aspects of society. According to Volunteering Australia around 35% of the adult population is involved in some sort of volunteering activity. In 2010 the value of formal volunteering across Australia was over $25B with a further $60B in more informal volunteering! That is a lot of people putting in a lot of time to help make society a better place. A similar survey had over 95% of them satisfied or very satisfied with their volunteering!

We are just about to fill out the latest census survey, and in it you will find questions about volunteering. When I filled out the last census I had to think carefully about whether I volunteered, but didn’t take long to realise that I did in both my home and professional life.

Like many parents all across the country I helped out with a local sports team; in my case coaching one of my sons’ cricket team for a number of years. This brought me great satisfaction from seeing a group of boys improve their skills year on year and have a lot of fun along the way. The boys are now too good for me, so I have passed that role onto someone with greater experience to continue that role. However, I am still actively involved with the club, playing in one of the low grade senior teams, help our juniors adapt to playing senior cricket, having fun and occasionally even scoring a few runs myself!

In my professional life I was volunteering for KCA, at that point as Vice Chair, responsible for professional development. KCA has put a lot of effort into improving the professional development opportunities for members, from developing and running courses, being a founder member of the Association of Technology Transfer Professionals to the recent skills framework that we have developed for the profession that is getting plenty of attention worldwide. None of this would have been possible without the help of a whole range of volunteers. From those who developed the courses, and those in KCA and outside who helped deliver them; the people who have been involved with ATTP committees and review panels; and everyone who helped out in the work that led to the delivery of the framework. A big thank you to all of you.

However, we still need more help. KCA is a small organisation run by a small team of volunteers brought together by our one full time staff member and general all round superwoman, Mel Geue. The more volunteers that we have though, and the more they can contribute, the more we can deliver for you, our members. Whatever your level of experience, there is a role that you can play in helping to shape our community and build capacity here in Australia.  In helping your profession and your peers, you will also be helping yourself by helping to develop your career. It is no surprise that those who volunteer in professional bodies such as KCA are often those who advance their careers the fastest and furthest. You learn and develop by getting involved, so don’t just see it as time spent on something outside of your role, but it is something that is essential to develop you in your role. You will meet and work with other thought leaders in the commercialisation arena and play a role in developing the profession.

To find out more about how you could help KCA and help yourself develop professionally then contact either myself or Mel. We can help you work out how you can volunteer and provide the support to make it a success, whatever your level of experience. The right attitude is all you need, we can help with the rest.

Areas that might be of interest:

  • Course development
  • Course delivery
  • Annual Conference planning and organisation
  • KCA Exec (not just for CEOs/Directors)
  • Local events
  • Policy and advocacy

Looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible in Brisbane (and the start of the cricket season….)

Alastair

Dr Alastair Hick
Director, Monash Innovation, Monash University
KCA Chair and Volunteer

Academics do want to engage with business, but need more support

The Conversation
Drew Evans, University of South Australia and Carolin Plewa, University of Adelaide

Universities today are under more pressure than ever to collaborate with industry.

In the words of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull:

Increasing collaboration between businesses, universities and the research sector is absolutely critical for our businesses to remain competitive.

Australia has a poor report card when it comes to university-business collaboration. It ranks last among the OECD countries when comparing the proportion of businesses working with universities.

But this is not all. Australia ranks only 72nd in the world on the Innovation Efficiency Ratio, a measure comparing innovation inputs to outputs. And we have one of the lowest number of scientific publications co-authored by industry in the OECD.

There is a clear impetus for change. A change towards more academic collaboration with industry.

Why are there such low levels of collaboration?

A popular belief is that researchers are focused on publishing their work in academic journals, and not interested in collaboration with industry.

At a press conference on science and innovation, Turnbull said:

… the primary motivator has been to publish and make sure your publications are cited in lots of other publications, hence the term “publish or perish”.

Publications are, and will continue to be, critical for the advancement of knowledge and for the reputation of academics and universities alike. But does that mean academics aren’t interested in working with business?

Recently the South Australian Science Council undertook a benchmarking survey to test this assumption.

The academic engagement with end users survey was designed to capture the perceptions and attitudes of academics when it comes to engaging with business, government or non-profit organisations.

The survey (which has not been published publicly due to confidentiality reasons) sampled 20% of the total academic employees across three universities in South Australia. The sample size of 852 academics is large enough to tell us something about the Australian, not just South Australian, academic.

The findings found that the most academics (nine out of ten) were motivated to engage with business to help translate their research into practice. And 86% were motivated to engage in order to have an impact on society.

Academics not motivated by money

It is not money that makes a difference. Only 25% indicated that the opportunity to increase their personal income motivated them to engage.

We often think that there are just too many barriers to engagement. These barriers range from difficulty in agreeing on Intellectual Property (IP), to mismatches in culture, to a lack of personal contacts with industry, and so on.

But are these barriers really inhibiting engagement?

Few academics in the survey agreed. Only 15% of respondents agreed that their research was too far removed from the end users. 16% agreed that end user engagement doesn’t help achieve their career goals.

Just under one third of respondents agreed that engaging with end users is difficult, that they don’t have relevant skills, or personal contacts or that it would detract them from undertaking other research.

Building stronger relationship between academics and industry

A simple focus on financial incentives alone won’t make a difference.

In the eyes of the academics responding to the survey, they need: Time, support and an environment encouraging of engagement.

Time to dedicate to the networking and relationship building that will lead to successful collaboration. It is relationships, not just single transactions, that breed success. These relationships are integral to research and teaching; integral to the university’s role in society. Yet building relationships takes time.

Support mechanisms are significant enablers. While important for all, they are crucial for newcomers. 80% of the respondents who had not previously engaged with business desire it.

The support comprises staff dedicated to assist in finding end-users, help define applications, facilitate networking and conduct project management. By supporting academics behind the scenes, they enable them to focus on what they are good at – working with their business partners on achieving the desired outcomes.

An environment perceived as encouraging engagement stimulates further engagement. The survey shows that only 29% of respondents who have not worked with business view their local research group as encouraging engagement, compared to 77% of those who have engaged extensively. An encouraging team atmosphere, support from peers and support networks can all help facilitate an engagement friendly culture.

The research suggests that we need to shift our thinking on this topic, away from extrinsic motivators such as money, and towards a focus on what intrinsically motivates academics to engage, such as impact.

The conversation must move away from “overcoming barriers”, which in the eyes of most academics don’t actually exist. We are wasting time dreaming up solutions to problems that don’t exist.

‘It takes three to tango’

Not every academic will engage closely with industry, nor do we want every academic to engage. We need to establish the ecosystem in which engagement is easy and rewarding.

As former Chief Scientist Ian Chubb recently put it: “It takes three to tango”.

Not all academics will want to tango with business; tango is close, intense and full of twists and turns. Yet many want to line dance, foxtrot, or quickstep. They want to engage in different ways.

The Australian government needs to consider the policy framework that enables academics to engage in a way that is best for them and their partners through the provision of time, support, encouragement and recognition.

Drew Evans, Associate Professor of Energy & Advanced Manufacturing, University of South Australia and Carolin Plewa, Associate Professor in Marketing, University of Adelaide

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

An effective way for research organisations to get great ideas to market?

cubes_coming_out_of_handsIf innovation is the growth driver for Australian and New Zealand economies, what role can our research institutions play in developing and maintaining a healthy innovation system? Our research outputs are world class, but statistics would suggest that we are failing to turn these outputs into Australasian commercial successes. Technology is created here, but is often commercialised elsewhere due to a number of market factors. If innovation is the answer to our growth needs though, what can our research institutions do to ensure Australasian research is turned into Australasian commercial success?

We have a multitude of co-working spaces, incubators, accelerators to support entrepreneurs. Some are part of universities; others are run by industry and investors. It seems each day brings announcement of yet another startup accelerator/incubator. Are pitching, lean business models, digital marketing and experienced advisors the secret to success?

The answer seems to be yes for software based digital businesses. While medical research has a well established path from research organisation to industry – specialist funds such as the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund support medical startups in Australia and New Zealand through the “valley of death” – it is much more difficult to commercialise other research in engineering, material science and the social sciences.

As such, what can universities and other research institutes do to better support entrepreneurs and the innovation ecosystem in getting great ideas to market? If it can be taught, what should out universities teach?

Join us at #KCA2016 for The Entrepreneurial University session where we have an exciting panel of presenters that will present key lessons learned, strategies for success, explore how research institutions can better prepare staff and students, and what can be done to better convert Australasian research into world class Australasian commercial success.

Register now!

Klaus Krauter
Senior Manager Commercialisation & Commercial Research, University of Wollongong
KCA Volunteer