Australian research commercialisation on the up and up worldwide

On the National Survey of Research Commercialisation (NSRC) snapshot just released, Dr Erin Rayment, Chair of Knowledge Commercialisation Australasia (KCA) – the peak body leading best practice for research organisations in industry engagement, commercialisation and entrepreneurship –  said Australia was on the up and up in the world’s research commercialisation space.

“It’s great to see a continued increase in start-up growth and licensing deals, signalling an active technology transfer environment,” she said.

“KCA members continue to lead the way in provisional and PCT* patent filings, along with broader industry engagement activities, including strong growth in consultancies, contracts and collaborations,” said Dr Rayment, who is also Director of the Office of Research Development, University of Southern Queensland (USQ).

“KCA strongly supports the increase in researchers and students participating in industry skills training and will continue to support our members in delivering these professional development opportunities.”

The 2018 NSRC Snapshot presents metrics based on data collected through the latest NSRC survey of 30 Australian universities, 20 medical research institutes and six publicly funded research agencies representing 2016 data, demonstrating commercialisation activities and outcomes of participating Australian research organisations. It covers start-up creation, Provisional and PCT applications, consultancies, contracts and collaborations, R&D expenditure, invention disclosures, patents granted and cooperative research centres (CRCs).

The Snapshot shows that Australian public research organisations have increased their commercialisation and collaboration activities over the life of the survey, since it first commenced in 2000, with positive trends across most areas: continued growth in start-up creation; increased technology licences executed; and consultancies, contracts and collaborations with end users including industry partners.

Leaders in the field were: CSIRO, University of Queensland and Monash University were the top three for producing consultancies, contracts and collaborations with end users; CSIRO, The University of Sydney and Monash University were the top three for new PCT applications per surveyed organisations, 2014-2016;  CSIRO, the University of New England and Monash University were the top three for new Provisional applications per surveyed organisations, 2014-2016; and The University of Melbourne, The University of NSW and Monash University were the top three for R&D expenditure per surveyed organisations, 2014-2016

There was also an increase of 35% in researchers and students participating in industry skills training.

Dr Alastair Hick, Senior Director Monash Innovation and former KCA Chair said big increases in the number of start-ups coming out of public funded research organisations in the last two years of the survey were seen, changing a decade long fall in numbers.

“This is a really positive sign reflecting the increasing interest in innovation and entrepreneurship from our researchers and a big increase in the availability of investment capital for early stage deep tech opportunities,” he said.

“We expect this to continue as new capital comes on line and increasingly institutions are seeing translation of their research through spin outs and licences as core to their ability to achieve impact from their research.”

Chief Executive officer of UniQuest, Dr Dean Moss, said he is greatly encouraged to see the strong growth in start-up creation that the survey reveals.

“This growth is an indicator of the translation of research through commercialisation. All of the metrics are positive for a sector, which is active and covers a wide participation by CSIRO, the universities and medical research institutes,” he concluded.

*The Patent Cooperation Treaty is an international patent law treaty, concluded in 1970. It provides a unified procedure for filing patent applications to protect inventions in each of its contracting states. A patent application filed under the PCT is called an international application, or PCT application.

About Knowledge Commercialisation Australasia (KCA)

Knowledge Commercialisation Australasia (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.

Media Contact: Sharon Kelly (gemaker), E: s.kelly@gemaker.com.au M: +61 414 780 07

KCA’s advice to the Innovation Metric Review Taskforce

The headline-grabbing, composite metric known as the Global Innovation Index (GII) is a simplified international ranking that controversially casts Australia in a poor light, while largely failing to assist policy development or decision-making.

The frustration of Australian innovators, tech transfer professionals and policy-makers with the limitations of present innovation metrics has been mounting for years, but some potential relief is in sight and KCA is striving to attain it for our members.

One limitation of existing innovation metrics and composite indices is that they tend to focus on innovation activity rather than impact. Another is that they do not comprehensively explore relative performance in all sectors of the Australian economy. Many data sources simply reflect what has been easy to collect, or meet historical requirements, rather than current needs. Some data conflict. For example, recent Higher Education Research Data Collection (HERDC) data suggests that the level of Australian industry investment in Australian universities continues to rise, despite our poor result in the GII’s university-industry collaborations metric.

This year, in response to recommendations made by Innovation and Science Australia in Australia 2030: Prosperity through Innovation, the Federal Government is reviewing domestic and international measures of innovation, and exploring the development of new metrics. Ultimately, the Government seeks long-term, solid data on which to found cost-effective, robust policies to build our nation’s innovation capacity. The new metrics will also be promoted to the international community.

The Innovation Metrics Review Taskforce has been drawn from the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE). ATSE is leading this project and is in the midst of its initial consultation round.

As the peak body representing organisations and individuals participating in commercialisation of Australian publicly funded research, KCA has been asked to assist. Therefore, following consultation with our members, KCA met with the Taskforce and made a formal submission to highlight what we see as the current challenges and opportunities in innovation measurement:

  • Our members believe it is important to better understand what is being measured by global innovation surveys like the GII, who is being surveyed, how to influence these metrics, and whether Australia’s innovation performance is decreasing, or our international counterparts are improving.
  • Australia’s lower investment in business R&D, higher ration of SMEs to larger corporations, and lack of multinational research headquarters, must be factored in when comparing our performance with other developed countries.
  • Our members look to the taskforce to identify how current research and innovation policies are driving economic development and how policy changes could encourage research-industry-end user collaborations. We would strongly support innovation policy that aligns and drives research activity with existing economic development metrics.
  • We advocate for better targeting and clarity of questions in the National Survey of Research Commercialisation, to improve data quality and consistency.
  • Our members utilise licensing survey data, such as the AUTM Licensing Activity Survey, for benchmarking and to guide licensing negotiations, particularly with international partners.
  • Other data collected by our members include: investment into startups based on university IP, as well as their sales; and the impact of student-led enterprises derived from accelerator programs.

Part of KCA’s submission was devoted to Third Stream funding for capability and capacity building. To realise the full benefits of Australian Government funding for research, skills gaps across the innovation ecosystem must be addressed with training, which requires dedicated funding. In addition, many Australian commercialisation teams are significantly under-sized and under-resourced. Unless these issues are resolved, we will continue to see the same outputs. High quality metrics around these factors will drive policy to achieve the step-change in success from our technology transfer and commercialisation offices that we all desire.

So KCA has delivered our members’ wish-list for better innovation metrics, but we have to wait until next Christmas to learn whether the taskforce elves will deliver the report we’re hoping for.

Source: gemaker

KCA Chair named Superstar of STEM

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Source: USQ Media Release

USQ’s Dr Erin Rayment has been named a national Superstar of STEM, to help smash society’s gender assumptions about scientists and bring to light inspiring examples of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics roles.

Dr Rayment, who began her career as a biomedical scientist, is now Director (Office of Research Development) and leads a team that manages strategic research partnerships, contract research, consultancy, commercialisation and e-research at the University.

She is also the Chair of Knowledge Commercialisation Australasia and Director of the Queensland Cyber Infrastructure Foundation.

The seasoned negotiator was one of 60 scientists, technologists and educators chosen for Science & Technology Australia’s coveted 2019-20 Superstars of STEM program, which aims to create a critical mass of celebrity Australian female scientists and technologists, to work towards equal representation in the media of women and men working in all fields in STEM.

The two-year program will provide a platform for Dr Rayment to connect with hundreds of school children, as well as local, national and international media opportunities to serve as a representative for her work.

“Throughout my career, I’ve often been the only woman in the room. I firmly believe in the statement that “you can’t be what you can’t see” therefore it’s important to raise our own profiles and do everything that we can to bring other women up through the pipeline,” Dr Rayment said.

“By capturing a young audience and cultivating it to ensure they continue their appreciation for STEM skills over their lifetime, it means that we will continue to grow and develop as a society.”

Dr Rayment also highlighted the importance of effective STEM communication.

“Unfortunately, in Australia and overseas, there has been a steady loss of trust in scientific opinions and the data behind them, which can be demonstrated through the current discussion around climate change.

“For us to change this trend, we as STEM professionals need to be able to communicate our work effectively to everyday Australians. We also need to understand that we are often dealing with individuals that need to be reached on a personal level – more data or figures is simply ineffective,” she said.

“By raising our profile and contributing personal narratives, we can hopefully move the country towards creating long-term solutions for seemingly intractable problems.”

USQ Vice-Chancellor, Professor Geraldine Mackenzie, commended Dr Rayment on being selected for the highly competitive program.

“Erin’s leadership at USQ is second-to-none, with her efforts focussing on working with government, engaging with industry and connecting our research organisations, to promote bipartisan, long-term planning and investment in STEM,” Professor Mackenzie said.

“She was instrumental in leading negotiations to foster USQ’s partnership and commercialisation strategy with leading global machinery giant John Deere as well as key astrophysics collaborations with MIT, University of California and the German Space Agency.

“Erin is passionate about science, commercialisation and ensuring that research is able to create real-world outcomes, making her the perfect candidate to share her STEM story with the world.”

University of Southern Queensland Media Contact:
Laura Hunt, Email: laura.hunt@usq.edu.au Phone: 07 4631 2296 or 0439 449 708

Interesting Times for Technology Transfer Professionals – From new KCA chair, Erin Rayment

It’s exciting to be working in knowledge commercialisation and technology transfer right now and I am thrilled to have the opportunity, as the new Chair of KCA, to achieve greater positive impact in this rapidly evolving field. I welcome KCA’s new Board members: Quin Chang from RMIT, John Grace of UniSA Ventures, Amanda McAlpine from Meat and Livestock Australia, and Dr Simon Wilkins from the University of Melbourne, who bring diverse expertise and fresh ideas to invigorate our organisation. I look forward to working together.

With deep gratitude, I acknowledge the wonderful work of former Chair Alastair Hick, who has skilfully guided KCA for the past three years, following six years as Vice Chair. Alastair has applied great energy, passion and vision to enhance our organisation’s relevance and influence, and I feel fortunate to receive the reins from him. My thanks also go to Melissa Geue, our Executive Director for over five years to April 2018, for keeping the wheels rolling smoothly in all KCA operations.

‘May you live in interesting times’ is an apocryphal Chinese curse that springs to mind when I consider the rapid and profound changes we’re witnessing in government, industries and research organisations. The rate of change is accelerating, and it is the task of technology transfer professionals (TTPs) to help their organisations benefit from change, rather than suffer from it.

KCA supports TTPs with advocacy, training, resources, awards and events but above all, with a strong community of TTPs at all career stages – a kind of hive mind that members can access when they face challenges in their work. These challenges include: continuing to find efficiency gains; managing frequent organisational restructuring; and helping researchers adapt to a major cultural and political shift that prioritises industry engagement and real-world impact from their work. By sharing experiences and ideas, we rise together to meet these challenges.

I firmly believe that collaboration is key to coping with rapid change and deriving benefit from the opportunities that change presents. The KCA Annual Conference is an excellent opportunity for building relationships with other TTPs, as collaborators, advisors, and mentors. I encourage all members to attend the conference and our other networking events and engage with our community in sharing best practice to improve our work outcomes.

The announcement of the KCA Awards winners is a highlight of the Annual Conference, as the awards celebrate top-tier work in Australasian tech transfer. I heartily congratulate the University of Tasmania for winning both the KCA Research Commercialisation Award and the People’s Choice Award at this year’s conference, with their highly successful leveraging of IP from lobster research that will deliver the world’s first commercial-scale hatchery in Tasmania.

The awards are open to all KCA members and their project partners, working in all facets of research commercialisation, industry engagement and entrepreneurship. The judges look for projects that demonstrate originality and creative business insight, as well as those that deliver significant societal impact.

I hope that KCA members aim to meet these criteria in all their work and I intend to do all I can as KCA Chair to support them in this aim. I will also support KCA members who strive to work with government, engage with industry and connect our research organisations, to promote bipartisan, long-term planning and investment in science and technology education and career structures. This is how we will drive innovation to grow new, sustainable industries, improve our lives and protect our planet. What could be more interesting, or important, than that?

New chair announced for Knowledge Commercialisation Australasia (KCA)

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Australasia’s peak body for research organisations leading in best practice for commercialisation, industry engagement and entrepreneurship, has a new chair – Dr Erin Rayment, Director of Office Research Development, University of Southern Queensland (USQ).

At USQ, Dr Rayment leads a team that manages strategic research partnerships, contract research, consultancy, commercialisation and e-research.

Announced today at the annual KCA Conference in Melbourne, Dr Rayment succeeds former Chair of three-years, Dr Alistair Hick, Senior Director, Monash Innovation.

KCA is a volunteer led and driven non-profit, membership, organisation which provides much needed training, advocacy, resources, awards and events to research commercialisation practitioners and technology transfer professionals (TTPs).  KCA also helps their members get together so they can learn from one another, and discuss and seek ways to resolve issues that affects all.

Dr Rayment said she was thrilled about her new appointment and embraced the opportunity to achieve greater positive impact in a “rapidly evolving field with profound changes in government, industry and research”.

“The rate of change is accelerating, and it is the task of technology transfer professionals (TTPs) to help their organisations benefit from change, rather than suffer from it,” she said.

“KCA has a kind of hive mind that members can access when they face challenges in their work, and I firmly believe that collaboration is key to coping with rapid change and deriving benefit from the opportunities that change presents.

“The challenges we face are many, like continuing to find efficiency gains; managing frequent organisational restructuring; and helping researchers adapt to a major cultural and political shift that prioritises industry engagement and real-world impact from their work. By sharing experiences and ideas, we rise together to meet these challenges.

“I welcome all the opportunities and challenges that the role of KCA chair brings and look forward to working with this growing group of professionals that will take Australian research to new frontiers of commercialisation and discovery,” she concluded.

 

Tasmanian lobster research wins leading commercialisation awards

The Knowledge Commercialisation Australasia (KCA) Research Commercialisation Award and People’s Choice Award were both won by the University of Tasmania (UTas), announced tonight at its annual conference dinner in Melbourne.

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New KCA Chair – also announced at the event – Dr Erin Rayment, Director (Office of Research Development), University of Southern Queensland (USQ), congratulated the winners saying celebrating research commercialisation success in Australasia was imperative.

“We need to make more noise about what we do and this KCA Award is one way of shouting out about the top-level tech transfer work in all facets of research commercialisation, industry engagement and entrepreneurship that is taking place,” she said

“In this case the judges looked for projects that demonstrate originality and creative business insight, as well as those that deliver significant societal impact.”

  • KCA Research Commercialisation Award
  • People’s Choice Award – is open to the KCA Conference attendees to vote on

University of Tasmania (UTas) – A Lobster Tale from Tasmania

Leveraging skills from across the University, the technology transfer unit led the reformulation a 15+ year research project in rock lobster biology to repatriate invaluable home‐grown intellectual property, and chaperone the opportunity into a newly formed Australian company, issue an exclusive Australian licence, attract $2.5M in equity investment to sustain an aligned ARC Research Hub and engage in commercial partnering. A subsequent commercial sublicense from UTAS to a third party is now proceeding on terms that will see the world’s first commercial‐scale tropical rock lobster hatchery begin production in Tasmania before August 2021.

This year’s awards are judged by commercial leaders of innovation:

  • Natalie Chapman, gemaker
  • Ross McFarlane, Phillips Ormonde Fitzpatrick
  • Charlie Day, Office of Innovation and Science Australia
  • Deb Verhoeven, University of Technology Sydney

Meet your KCA Awards Finalists 2018

Celebrating Top-Tier work in Australasian Academic Tech Transfer

The KCA Awards recognise great work amongst KCA member practitioners in expertly facilitating the transfer of research outcomes from publicly funded research organisations.

The 2018 KCA Awards finalists, in no particular order are:

University of Southern Queensland

Technology, originally funded through a combination of industry research projects between Sugar Research Australia, Cotton Research Development Corporation, Horticulture Innovation Australia and USQ, has been included as part of global commercialisation strategy by leading agricultural machinery company John Deere. Thanks to an ongoing partnership, USQ research is lifting farm productivity and developing the next generation of agricultural technology – including machine automation and control, such as driverless tractors. This global partnership with John Deere is helping provide a gateway for the worldwide commercialisation of technologies related to machine perception and intelligence for agricultural applications including automated weed management systems.

University of Tasmania

Led by its Technology Transfer Unit, the University of Tasmania was able to reformulate a 15+ year research project in rock lobster biology to repatriate invaluable home‐grown intellectual property, and chaperone the opportunity into a newly formed Australian company, issue an exclusive Australian licence, attract $2.5M in equity investment to sustain an aligned ARC Research Hub and engage in commercial partnering. A subsequent commercial sublicense from UTAS to a third party is now proceeding on terms that will see the world’s first commercial‐scale tropical rock lobster hatchery begin production in Tasmania before August 2021.

James Cook University

A regional university in the tropics of far north Queensland is not the first choice for investors in generating and establishing a drug development company. In four months, the development and commercialisation team at James Cook University managed three little pigs (investors*, founders and university) dealing with each as they turned into the wolf and kept rebuilding the university house to one of bricks. The team pulled off the improbable and aligned all the pigs with the establishment of a new biotech spin-out, Paragen Bio, a drug discovery company pursuing the development and commercialisation of therapeutics derived from parasitic worms.

*Due to confidentiality external party details not disclosed in this document at time of submission – official media release and launch set for mid-August 2018.

 

We thank all our nominees and judges,and wish the best of luck to all finalists. We look forward to hearing your pitch for the 2018 KCA Award, celebrating top tier practitioner work at the KCA Conference next month.

Register now to attend the KCA Annual Conference and support our finalists, as they pitch their nomination on Thursday 13 September 2018 in Melbourne. The winner, as deemed by a panel of judges, and the People’s Choice Award winner, will be announced at the Conference Dinner that same evening.