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.
- 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.
- 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)
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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’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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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: email@example.com M: +61 414 780 077
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
The countdown is on to the Innovation is a State of Mind themed 2016 KCA Annual Conference. KCA sat down with technology transfer young gun Giulia Gizzi from LaTrobe University to hear why she plans to attend the 1-2 September event being held in Brisbane.
KCA: How many years have you been involved in the commercialisation profession?
GG: 1.5 years
KCA: What is your current role?
GG: Commercialisation Administration Officer at La Trobe University
KCA: How many tech transfer conferences have you attended previously?
GG: Just one, KCA Annual Conference 2015
KCA: What is your reason for attending this year’s KCA Annual Conference?
GG: The Annual Conference is the best place to network and meet your colleagues who work in the commercialisation space, but also allows you to learn from their experiences. Being such a fresh face to the industry, it’s interesting to hear about the various tech transfer stories, both successful and sometimes disastrous, and learning the lessons from those who have worked through these cases. The conference enables an early career professional to learn through its sessions, but it can also be done by speaking with attendees who you may not normally interact with during your day-to-day work.
KCA: What session are you most looking forward to on this year’s program?
GG: I am really keen to hear the views presented in the first session: ‘Welcome to the Ideas BOOM: What the National Innovation Statement means for tech transfer in Australia’. NISA has had a huge impact on our sector, particularly emphasising that the Government is interested and willing to invest within our industry and across the broader innovation system. At the time of the conference, some items of the Agenda will have come into play, and also the political environment may have changed, so it will be quite interesting to hear from key members of our industry and the impact of NISA from various point of views.
KCA: Thanks for your time today Giulia. See you in September!
To keep in touch with Giulia, follow her @giulia_gizzi on Twitter.
Check back in a few weeks time when we speak with some of mid-career members to learn more about why they plan to come along to the 2016 KCA Annual Conference. Check out the full conference program on the KCA website.
The KCA Annual Conference
The Ideas Boom is upon us and all technology commercialisation professionals need to be across what this means for our sector. The Knowledge Commercialisation Australasia (KCA) Conference in Brisbane 1-2 Sept is the place to go to learn more about the latest trends, insights and best practice shaping innovation and commercialisation during this time. Come along to expand your network of technology commercialisation professionals from research organisations across Australia and New Zealand, and hear from an array of exciting presenters and panels talk to this theme.
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.
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.”
Chair, Knowledge Commercialisation Australasia
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.