Tagged: australia

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

 

Are you adapting your marketing pitch for each business that you engage with?

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With the FY16 year-end now behind us, it is time to take stock of our achievements, collect metrics and prepare reports for our stakeholders on our performance over the previous 12 months. My employer, being a government owned entity is no exception and has to ensure it meets the expectation of the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science. Supporting actions arising from the “Boosting the Commercial Returns from Research” agenda, these expectations have considerable focus on the utilisation of science to increase the competitiveness of Australian industry.

This forced reflection has made me analyse how I engage with industry and how I alter my approach based upon industry vertical, company size and my understanding of that company’s culture.  This may seem completely obvious, but we often fail to consciously make these differentiations and recognise that not all companies are created equal. For example the interaction and value proposition I present to a biotech startup is completely different to an engagement I will make with big pharma. Conversely, the business challenges of a startup are completely different to those of large pharma.

With this exact thought in mind, I am really looking forward to attending the KCA Annual Conference, and more specifically the session aptly titled “Not all Companies are Created Equal.” At this session we will hear from companies of different sizes and industries about how they innovate to overcome their business and technical challenges. It is shaping up to be really insightful.

This year the KCA Annual Conference will be held in sunny Brisbane at the Victoria Park Golf Club on 1-2nd September 2016. The conference theme is “Innovation is a state of mind,” and will focus on shaping thinking around commercialisation, entrepreneurship and industry engagement. Registration closes on the 17th August. I hope to see you there.

Dr Tim Boyle, RTTP
Leader, Business Development, ANSTO
KCA Volunteer

Great science & great marketing make the perfect match

If you ask the question ‘What is marketing?’ you’ll receive a variety of answers and invariably one will be ‘getting someone to buy something that they don’t want or need’.

There are lots of definitions, but basically, ‘marketing’ is understanding your customer so well that you can satisfy their needs profitably. The words ‘marketing’ and ‘promotion’ are often incorrectly used interchangeably as promotion (i.e. advertising, selling, PR, advertising, social media) is only a small subset of marketing, much like chemistry is a small subset of science.
Good marketing relies heavily on solid ‘marketing intelligence’ to get the elements of marketing (product, price, place and promotion) right.  To be successful getting your product out there, you need it to have the relevant features and
benefits a customer requires, at a price point they are willing to pay, promoted to them in the most efficient way (based on customer preferences), and available in a place (whether online or instore) convenient to buy and/or acquire.

Principles which are all highly relevant to tech transfer practitioners.

selling techGetting great science out into the community requires careful marketplace analysis and applied marketing thought.  Among the many challenges faced by tech transfer practitioners is the fact that most of the time, the amazing research outcomes they are trying to sell are developed without early commercial consideration.

The “Know your market” session at the 2016 KCA Annual Conference will provide attendees with an overview of marketing fundamentals to help TT practitioner’s better market their office to their internal clients and marketing their technologies and services to external clients.  Natalie Chapman from gemaker will help you to better understand some of the key principles of marketing in tech transfer and Robin Knight from IN-PART will share what other offices are doing globally to raise the profile of what they are doing and market their technologies.  Head over to the KCA website for more details and to register now.

Google gives student startups a boost at the KCA Accelerator Demo Day

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The nation’s best recent graduates of university accelerator programs came together last Tuesday in Sydney to pitch to an audience of over 100 drawn from Australia’s innovation community at the inaugural KCA Accelerator Demo Day.

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In true Dragon’s Den style, teams pitched their businesses to industry experts and got money-can’t buy time in front of key opinion leaders from the likes of Blue Chilli, Blackbird Ventures, StartupAus and Google.

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Teaching high-impact entrepreneurship and immersing university students in a diverse range of hands on business training has become a high priority for Australian research organisations in recent times.  Many now run their own accelerator and incubation programs, all aimed at supporting students, staff and alumni to commercialise ideas, access seed funding and learn how to grow and scale their businesses.

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Student entrepreneurship is a major national focus right now.  As our nation transmissions away from the resources boom towards an ideas boom, our research organisations are stepping up to educate and mentor students along the entrepreneurship pathway and encourage staff to think about commercial application of their work.

Many organisations running accelerator programs are looking for new ways to get their participants in front of active investors, customers and partners. In collaboration with Google, we have accumulated the best from accelerator programs across Australia to promote interaction and exposure for new businesses” said Rohan McDougall, Director IP Commercialisation, Curtin University.

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Entrepreneurship across universities and research institutions should be encouraged to thrive and be an option for every student to consider as they commence their studies.  We’re pleased to have been able to host the first National Demo Day and can’t wait to see what teams achieve going forwards” said Sally-Ann Williams, Engineering Community & Outreach Manager, Google.

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The eight businesses pitched spanned a variety of different sectors, and ranged from early-stage right through to revenue generating.

A summary of the businesses and accelerators that participated are as follows:

Chatterbox is an education technology startup developing a specialised online learning platform for students and teachers of debating and public speaking.  Chatterbox went through the University of New South Wales’ FounderLab program, a program that enables startups in need of software development to receive professional software engineer services whilst they continue their search for a permanent technical co-founder.

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Me3D was founded with the specific purpose to create the world’s best 3D printing educational package.  Me3D manufactures its own hardware through a partnership with Greenacres Industries, and provides essential training and consulting services.  Me3D was part of the University of Wollongong’s iAccelerate business incubator which aids startups and new businesses via two streams: Start and Advanced.

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Hypetap is a platform which connects agencies, brands and influencers to work on marketing campaigns together.  Hypetap was part of the University of Melbourne’s five-month Startup Accelerator program known as MAP.  MAP provides teams AUD20,000 in funding (no equity taken), and are provided structured mentoring, free office space and pitching opportunities in Sydney, Melbourne and Silicon Valley

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Storekat is an aggregation service for Self-Storage providers that functions as a peer to peer platform, with a purpose to expand their online presence in the marketplace.  Storekat was part of Curtin University’s Curtin Accelerate program, a ten week program which assists teams to bring  ideas and businesses closer to commercialisation.

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Vald Performance is a sports technology startup commercialising an innovative hamstring testing system. The Nordbord is the fastest, easiest and most powerful way to train, screen and monitor hamstring strength.  Vald Performance has been through the bluebox Accelerator which enables high potential startup teams from the QUT ecosystem to develop a business model, minimum viable product and investment grade pitch.

Anonalytix is a cloud based technology that offers a new approach to data anonymisation by producing synthetic data sets which cannot be re-identified. Anonalytix is part of the CSIRO ON program, which fast-tracks Australian science and technology innovation for real world outcomes. Open to all Australian universities and PFRAs, ON is supporting helping Australia’s best researchers and their partners translate great science and technology into commercial ventures.

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Miriad Technologies have developed the “Miriad Spectrometer,” a device to identify the existence and concentration of chemicals in different mediums such as food and the general environment.  Miriad Technologies was part of the University of Sydney’s INCUBATE startup development program, which is open to students and alumni and focuses on technologically innovative companies.

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Certified Renewable certifies businesses that use 100% renewable energy.  Certified Renewable has been a part of InnovationACT, The Australian National University entrepreneurship program for students, staff and alumni of Canberra’s major tertiary institutions. Teams are mentored by local entrepreneurs, participate in workshops and seminars, and the top teams pitch for a share of the $50,000 seed pool.

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KCA and Google are working together to do this all again in 2017.  Keep checking back for future dates.

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Latest data shows university/industry engagement happens in many ways, most of them bigger and more effective than commercialisation

KCA welcomes the publication of the National Survey of Research Commercialisation by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.

The National Survey of Research Commercialisation (NSRC) has been collecting data relating to the sale of public sector intellectual property since 2000.  The data collected for 2014 can be used in conjunction with previous year’s data to paint a picture of some of the outcomes resulting from Australian research engaging with business and government both locally and internationally.

In terms of high level indications from the data, we note that:

  • Company creation has fallen significantly
  • Commercialisation activity remains stable and
  • Industry partnerships have grown significantly

The approach to company creation within universities has changed tangibly over the past few years, with less of a focus now on spin-out creation (where the university would have a licensing and equity interest in the company), and now more of a focus on supporting the surge in student startup activity.  These are considerably different activities for universities to be involved with, and are often carried out in different parts of the university.  We will work with the Department to explore how all startup activity is appropriately captured in future years.

Given the long lead/lag-time on IP commercialisation, which is often ten years or more, the recent outcomes we see for commercialisation tend to result from activity which occurred quite some time ago.  It is also important to note that the influence of Government policy and support programs takes a significantly long time to feed into the system, and current data reflects the end product of programs past.

On the other hand, company creation and research partnerships happen across a much shorter timescale (typically 1 to 3 years) and the data may be suggesting a trend that has been anecdotal until now.  That is, the sector has been moving over the past few years, from having a very strong focus on IP commercialisation and spin-out company creation, towards one of research partnerships with industry.

There are two particular data sets that we want to highlight:

  1. Income from commercialisation

Table 5.1.3: Income yielded from active LOAs (AU$ Million)*

2012 2013 2014
PFRAs 294 45 46
UNIs 36 74 61
MRIs 29 9 29
Totals 358 129 136

 

Table 5.1.3. shows that the university sector, as a whole, generated AU$61million of income from licences in 2014.

  1. Income from other engagement mechanisms

Table 5.5: Value of contracts, consultancies and collaborations (AU$ Million)*

2012 2013 2014
PFRAs 417 391 384
UNIs 951 1,168 1,352
MRIs 40 39 72
Total 1,408 1,598 1,808

 

Whereas when we look at table 5.5, we see that the university sector generated AU$1.3billion of combined income from consultancies, contract research and development and collaborations, which are activities which reflect research organisations working with industry.  Interestingly, this figure of income which relates to money earnt from industry for our research and consultancy is two orders of magnitude greater than commercialisation income – and it’s growing at a continuous rate.

The data therefore suggests that engagement mechanisms such as consultancies, contract research and collaborations appear to be much more accurate reflection of activity and engagement between business and research compared to the traditional measure of commercialisation of IP.

But is this a unique feature of the Australian system?  The answer is no.  Data from the UK analysing HEIF data on university/industry engagement shows the spread of activity across the range of engagement mechanisms:

Knowledge exchange mechanism % Revenue
Contract research 34
Collaborative research 23
CPD and continuing education 20
Consultancy 11
Regeneration and development programmes 5
Facilities and equipment services 4
Intellectual property (including sale of shares) 2

 
TOMAS COATES ULRICHSEN: Knowledge Exchange Performance and the Impact of HEIF in the English Higher Education Sector Report for HEFCE April 2014

This table surprises many, but not those of us in the Technology Transfer community.  We know that while IP commercialisation is very important, it is in fact a relatively small activity in terms of overall university revenue from industry.   Taking the data from the NSRC and considering our commercialisation income to be the last category and research contracts and consultancies to represent all of the others combined, the Australian data would suggest:

Knowledge exchange mechanism % Revenue
All other Engagement mechanisms 95.5
Intellectual property (including sale of shares) 4.5

 
It’s the same order of magnitude and, if we really wanted to, we could argue that we are twice as good as the UK at commercialising IP – but we aren’t going to do that.

What we will say though is that we need a broader view of university/industry engagement beyond a single OECD chart and beyond IP commercialisation income.  Let’s recognise that university/industry engagement happens in many ways, most of them bigger and more effective than commercialisation.  Let’s recognise them and reward them as these are the ways that our research actually gets translated into the economy to deliver benefits to the tax-payer who funded it.

Dr Kevin Cullen
KCA Vice-Chair, Metrics
CEO, UNSW Innovations

*These tables have been sourced from the data summary report produced by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science available here.

Lies, damned lies, and statistics, and how I can’t escape my job even on holiday

I was lucky enough to recently find myself diving on the Great Barrier Reef, up around Lizard Island for my holidays. This was around the time that the press started talking about coral bleaching with quotes such as “An aerial survey of the northern Great Barrier Reef has shown that 95 per cent of the reefs are now severely bleached — far worse than previously thought.” I was expecting to see a wasteland under the water, but while there were a small number of certain coral species that did exhibit severe bleaching, the reef was still spectacular, with the vast majority of coral looking healthy. Indeed recent surveys have shown that the southern reef is now in its best shape for years, following recovery after a series of cyclones. What should have been reported was something like “Up to 95% of the northern reefs had evidence of some coral being bleached”. On each reef that is a small percentage of the total coral, but that doesn’t make a good headline.

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There are now rebuttals with this week a detailed underwater survey reporting “Recent underwater surveys, looking at 32 reefs between Cairns and Lizard Island, found less than five per cent were suffering severe bleaching or coral mortality”. However, the damage has been done and the global headlines were about the death of the Great Barrier Reef, although misuse of data. What has this got to do with technology transfer or commercialisation, you may ask?  Well, I believe that we suffer from the same type of statistical misuse. The commonly held view is that Australia is poor at commercialisation of our research and the OECD stat that we are 29th out of 29, or 33rd out of 33 for industry who collaborate with universities is used to back this up. The fact that the OECD stat is referring to Australian business research activity, not university commercialisation activity is ignored, as well as ignoring all the research activities that we undertake with overseas businesses. If it backs up the common view we will keep quoting it. I, and many others, have tried to point this out, but with limited success.

So, what can we do about it? Quoting stats has had, and will have no effect. What we need to do is back up our case with more examples of the great work we are doing, and the genuine impact we are having on society, only a small portion of which is can be counted in dollar returns to our organisations. The greatest benefits are to the businesses, investors and society who take what we have developed and apply it, often globally.

Which brings me onto the second part of my story. Also on the boat was Dr Angel Yanagihara from the University of Hawaii who studies box jellyfish, their stings and how to treat them. She has developed barrier creams and treatments (both first aid and hospital based) to deal with what can be a deadly encounter. She is now in the process of commercialising this, initially through a licensing partner, who failed to deliver, and now through her own company Alatalab Solutions. This will save lives, mostly in less developed countries. What a great story to demonstrate why we do our job. It is not going to make loads of money, but it will save lives.

What we need to be doing to telling more of our own stories in Australia of the great things that we have done and are doing. Some may make a lot of money, like WiFi, Gardisil or IVF, whereas others will have positive impacts on society through different mechanisms, such as the Triple P Parenting Program, Low FODMAP diet and many other similar things. So let’s celebrate more of our success by sharing them through KCA, with your colleagues and collaborators and through any other mechanisms you care to think of.  This is how we will change the perception of what we do, not through “Lies, damn lies and statistics.”

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Alastair Hick
Chair, Knowledge Commercialisation Australasia

Commercialisation: There are no Rules!

The 2014 KCA Annual Conference, themed “Commercialisation: There are no Rules,” was held 18-19 September in Brisbane.

Day one kicked off with a lively, theatre style comical debate about the whole concept of institutional technology transfer and whether or not it actually works. It was an entertaining mudslinging affair, as both sides battled it out, arguing their points with passion to try win over the adjudicator audience. Valid arguments were presented on both sides, and while there was stronger support for the opposing team, the audience supported the notion that while in its current form the system is broken, the notion of technology transfer is still very important and a worthwhile endeavour.  You can read more about the debate on the gemaker blog.

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Day one continued on with updates from DECO on the defence trade control act, IP Analytics from IP Australia and some creative strategies around how to commercialise IP within the humanities and social sciences. Deakin talked us through how crowdfunding and using platforms such as Pozible do offer opportunities for society benefiting social projects, however these sites require strong commitment from the project team and the leveraging of the teams social and professional networks to really make the most of the opportunity and to gain the most out of the exercise. Creative commercialisation in education was also shown to offer benefits as presented by Griffith.

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The afternoon session saw the finalists of the inaugural KCA Research Commercialisation Awards join the stage to talk about some of the lessons learnt though their projects. Of course the most exciting part of day one was the awards dinner, tech transfers night of nights, where our winners of our three awards categories were announced in front of their peers and sector supporters. Just to recap in case you missed the hype (or the official press release), Best Commercial Deal went to Uniquest for their Janssen Dendright deal, Best Creative Engagement Strategy went to Griffith Enterprise for SEED, and the People’s Choice went to Swinburne for their 3D IMAX project. Congrats once again to all our winners, and a big thanks to all our award sponsors Wrays, gemaker, Crowe Horwath, Business Spectator and Joanne Jacobs.

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Day two launched with a cracker marketing session. How to use social media in the tech transfer office and other pearls of wisdom came down the line from guru Laura Schoppe calling in from North Carolina in the US. Changes in the social media scene in Australia were presented by prize donor Joanne Jacobs, while an inspiring tale of perseverance, creative financing and the power to influence via social media was shared with the group by Justine Flynn from the Thankyou Group.

Start-ups and student entrepreneurship featured in the mid-morning session. Andrew Stead shared NICTA’s model of the land of spin-ins, an IP strategy that sits somewhere between licensing and spin-outs. Uber passionate Petra Andren spoke on ATP Innovations student accelerator programs and the potential for universities to use them as a vehicle for commercialisation, and Colin Kinner rounded out the session with the importance of start-ups to the Australian economy and tips as to how tech transfer offices can turn themselves into start-up powerhouses.

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The humorous Michael Klug took on the graveyard shift and converted it into a show-stopping finale for attendees. We only gave him an hour, but he manages to impart substantive information in that short window, drawing on a good forty years of experience in the black art of negotiation.

All in all, a pretty good two days – hopefully you each have a few new “tools” to store away into your industry toolkit. Thanks for all of your feedback – it’s a really great starting point for next year’s program! Don’t forget to let me know if you’d like to join the 2015 organising committee!  The 2015 conference will be in Melbourne in mid-September.  Dates to be confirmed shortly.

Finalists announced for the Inaugural KCA Research Commercialisation Awards

Celebrating Australian Innovators translation of Knowledge & Research into business

Australia punches above its weight in research with journal publications and patent applications. Translating that research success into commercial uptake by industry and creation of Australian jobs, is an intricate, challenging and resource intensive process.

The inaugural Knowledge Commercialisation Australasia (KCA) Research Commercialisation Awards recognise research organisations success in creatively transferring their knowledge into the broader community and transferring their research into products or services with companies to grow new industries in Australia.

This year’s Awards include;

  • Best Commercial deal for any form of commercialisation of knowledge which is innovative in its approach, provides value-add to the research institution and has significant long term social and economic impact.
  • Best Creative Engagement Strategy to showcase some of the creative strategies research organisations are using to engage with industry partner/s to share and create new knowledge

Best Commercial Deal
Curtin University – Scanalyse sale
Curtin University sold its shares in award winning “Scanalyse” to international engineering company Outotec. Scanalyse laser scanning technology accurately models the interior of crushers and mills to monitor their condition, saving the mineral processing industry millions of dollars per annum. The business continues to employ 25 local staff in Western Australia.

Griffith Enterprise (Griffith University) – Silicon Carbide Coast
Griffith University is helping build a Silicon Carbide Coast through a suite of deals designed to commercialise its silicon carbide (SiC) on silicon (Si) platform technology. A multi-million contract with UK-based SPTS Technologies has facilitated mass-production of SiC wafers. A second million-dollar contract with Chinese microelectronics company SICC Materials, was then secured to build and commercialise devices utilising SiC. Partnering with equipment manufacturer and next-gen device manufacturer enables Griffith to maximise the new material’s commercialisation opportunities. Building on this foundation Griffith and partners aim to establish an R&D, prototyping and high tech manufacturing precinct in South East Queensland.

UniQuest – Janssen deal with dendright technology targeting rheumatoid arthritis
Researchers at the University of Queensland have designed a new drug, Curcusome-RA to treat rheumatoid arthritis before irreversible joint destruction takes place. UniQuest were successful in closing a funding deal with Pharmaceutical company Janssen to support Phase 1 clinical trials and ongoing R&D and have access rights to commercialise Curcusome-RA worldwide.

Best Creative Engagement Strategy
Griffith Enterprise (Griffith University) – SEED
SEED combines Griffith’s popular music, creative arts, film and marketing students to develop and promote an album each year. Students learn how to interact with online music providers and make valuable industry connections. Through major partners such as Queensland Performing Arts Centre, they perform a concert series The Seed Project, building a following and enhancing their, and in turn Griffith’s, reputations.

Swinburne University of Technology – A 3D IMAX Initiative – The ‘Giants Are Coming’ but they need to turn into the ‘Hidden Universe’.
Risk adverse university joins with creative film company to produce Australia’s first 3D IMAX film which has already been seen by more than 700,000 people in cinemas across the planet. Hidden Universe uses real images captured by the world’s most powerful telescopes to take audiences on a journey to the farthest reaches of our Universe and excite their interest and awareness of science and technology.

Adelaide Research & Innovation Pty Ltd – “One Health” Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance
Adelaide University have formed the most comprehensive data set and national network in collaboration with Zoetis(formerly Pfizer) and 22 govt, private and university veterinary diagnostic labs for Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in animals anywhere in the world. The collaborative program for the surveillance of AMR, known as “One Health” tackles bacterial infections that kill over 9000 people in Australia annually, more than breast cancer, prostate cancer and car accidents combined.

Curtin University – West Tech Fest/ OzAPPs
The West Tech Fest/OzAPP Awards provides a focal point to attract global entrepreneurs and investors to Perth at least once a year to enable local developers, researchers, budding entrepreneurs and others to engage, learn and be inspired. Raising $1 million in cash/in kind contributions towards prize money and running the event has led to the establishment of a numerous of start-up companies and laid a path to a more diverse economy in the region (OzAPP Awards partners with a range of co-working spaces, accelerators and other organisations accessing over 400+ start-ups and 25,000+ people with a passion for technology).

Wrays the major sponsor of the 2014 Awards, Wrays’ CEO Frank Hurley says, “Through our support, we hope to raise awareness of the importance of understanding often undervalued intellectual property to leverage new ideas, and subsequently nurture relationships with future entrepreneurs by enabling them to protect and also generate wealth from their innovations.”

The winners will be announced at the 2014 KCA Annual Conference Awards dinner on Thursday 18 September, in Brisbane.

The official press release can be found here.

Investing in the Future – Post Conference Wrap Up 2013

Investing in the Future was the theme of the 2013 KCA Annual Conference, held 13-15 November at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney.  Attendees were privy to insights from a diverse array of speakers, covering topics across the spectrum from market conditions to funding to the fundamentals of the way we do business.

The cocktail reception kicked off proceedings on the Wednesday evening, and this year featured a pitching session as part of the program.  Following an excellent overview of funding trends in Australia from Jeremy Colless, eight representatives from across the country got up in front of the audience and eloquently pitched their ideas and technologies, showcasing just a handful of the amazing outcomes arising from some of our member organisations.

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Thursday’s program jumped right into it, delving into the future market needs of the Australian economy and things we all need to think about as we move into a knowledge based economy.  This included an overview of CSIRO’s response to emerging technology trends and global challenges, as well as a recent review from the UK as to the success of various interventions to Business-University Collaboration.

This was followed by an interesting discussion on changing trends in funding of technology development in Australia: highlighting outcomes and successes from Commercialisation Australia’s program, the challenges faced by traditional venture capital through to the emergence of accelerators and incubators, their relationship to corporate venture, and considering the extent to which we can successfully copy international initiatives in these areas. The need to think and act global right from day one was also a point that was made that has merit and would provide the innovation sector in Australia with the greatest opportunities.

Thursday afternoon we benefited from talks from some of our industry partners, who addressed both the opportunities and challenges they have faced in trying to collaborate with the university sector.  Representatives from Bluescope, 3M and Thales all spoke to a long history of maximising the benefit from that interaction – good examples of champions within companies who believe there is benefit to be had in collaborating with Universities and publicly funded research organisations. They also spoke to the role that they can play in acting as “technology” brokers to wider opportunities within their organisations and clients, and the challenges of effectively communicating a compelling business case through a long chain of command in larger businesses, to show how specifically a particular project aligns with the organisation’s strategic and commercial objectives.  Alignment of objectives is clearly a critical success factor in collaborative projects, and now we have some good tips as to how to do that better, and some great contacts in industry who are there to help the process.

Day one concluded with an overview of what’s happening across the landscape in other parts of the world, and it was interesting to learn that much of what we’re seeing here in Australia is happening across the Atlantic in the UK and parts of Europe.  The shift away from a narrower focus on licensing and patenting and the move to collaborative partnerships and Easy Access, as well as the integration of the commercial office into to fabric of University departments are just some of the common trends.  Similar trends can be seen in United States (US) and Canada.   Like Australia and the UK, research dollars are declining and offices and there are pressures to do more and be more involved in facilitating collaborative relationships both nationally and internationally.  The sharing of stories – the impact that research outcomes are having in the wider community – was another trend growing in the US, common to what we’re trying to do more of here in the Australian market.

Asia is a growing market for Australia, being so close both geographically and in terms of time.  Accessing this market is not as complicated as one might think – it’s just a matter of knowing how.  Strategic relationships, “piggy-backing,” and being willing to start small to get your foot in the door were just some of the ideas put forward to being successful at entering the Asian market.  Understanding cultural differences and the importance of investing in developing relationships, as well as making full use of your international faculty members were other key take-home points.

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Conference delegates were able to let down their hair after a hard day of intent learning, with a boat cruise and three course dinner around Sydney Harbour.  The photo booth and karaoke proved popular forms of social networking!

Friday morning the conference focussed back in on our own people and gave ideas as to how we can better invest in ourselves and our offices to improve what we do.  Social innovation and a shift towards focussing more resource to investigating the creative opportunities which lie within the social sciences faculties were mentioned many times throughout the morning.  The importance of brand and culture to an organisation’s success was also highlighted.  Values and vision were noted as core:  “Visionary, successful companies are guided by core values which include a sense of purpose, beyond making money.  Values do not drive the business – they drive the people within the business.”  Staff were reminded that they are the most important brand advocates: making sure everyone conveys the same consistent message is key.  Handled consistently, culture and brand can reinforce each other and build success.

Friday of the conference went out with a bang, with a highly energetic presentation about how to build trust with stakeholders in just one meeting.  In this industry we often only have one chance to make a killer first impression and 9 times out of 10 we all blow this chance because we are too busy focussing on ourselves and not focussing on what is truly important – the needs of the other person we are trying to engage.   In just one hour, we learnt some of the basics of how to shift our thinking away to help us refrain from some engaging in some of these detrimental behaviours, and began to understand the importance of being able to read others and adapt accordingly if we want them to begin to trust us.

Thank you to our sponsors once again for all your support – Wrays, Gemaker, Commercialisation Australia and Inteum – and to our members for your active participation during discussion time.

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May Innovation Policy Report

The May Innovation Policy Report is now available via the Department of Innovation’s website.

This edition features:

  • Big Data and the Public Sector
  • Plan for Australian Jobs: the Australian Government’s Industry and Innovation Statement
  • Australia-China Young Researchers Exchange Program
  • Supporting design in innovation – the Australian Design Integration Network
  • Eco Investor – Eco Innovation Forum 2013
  • Innovate NSW
  • Innovation Symposium 2013: Bridging the Gap between Research and Innovation