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Scientists print 3D models of Great Barrier Reef in bid to save it. Scientists are using 3D printing technology to create prosthetic coral that could be used to help the Great Barrier Reef recover from bleaching and storms. Researchers at the University of Sydney are creating virtual 3D maps of coral reefs to precisely model how their structure is altering as a result of environmental change. With her supervisor, associate professor Will Figueira, Dr Renata Ferrari established the Ecological 3D Modelling Hub to precisely quantify the structure of the delicate reef ecosystem.

replicating it.” Having tested the 3D-printed corals’ resilience in water, Ferrari hoped to plant some on the Great Barrier Reef this year. The extent of the operation and the number of sites depends on funding, though a pilot program would cost around $150,000.Ferrari was hopeful about the potential to save the Great Barrier Reef, she said, despite the doom saying about its prospects. Though large parts of the northern end had died from sustained bleaching, the south was “pretty much intact”.

“The idea behind that was to map, monitor and model the coral reefs and other marine ecosystems in three dimensions,” she said. “If you can create a 3D map, then you can measure it, because you literally have a map of the corals on your computer. You can get anything you want out of it.”

“Coral reefs have been around for hundreds and hundreds of years”, she said. “Because of the connectivity of the Great Barrier Reef, this type of approach will still work. You put the reefs down and the coral larvae will arrive from other parts of the reef.” But, she warned, any local initiatives will be redundant if climate change – the number-one threat to reefs around the world – is not addressed at a global level. Mass bleaching brought on by increasing ocean temperatures, acidification caused by carbon emissions, and more frequent strong storms are “smashing” coral reefs on multiple fronts, said Ferrari.

The technology is relatively new, based on photogrammetry: the science of making 3D reconstructions from photography. These virtual models are being used to print models of the coral that could be planted on the reef to give it support as it recovers from adverse events such as bleaching and storms. The 3D-printed coral would provide a habitat for fish, which eat the algae that kills the coral, as well as a structure on which developing coral can grow. Artificial reefs have been created with cinder blocks or deliberately sunk ships, said Ferrari, “but we’ve never had an artificial reef that resembles a natural reef structure”. “With the 3D-printed reefs, that’s the main advantage. You’re providing the exact same structure that an actual natural reef provides, because we got the models from the reefs before they bleached. We are literally

Without global policy to target the impacts of climate change, targeted initiatives such as the one she was proposing were essentially futile. “But if carbon emissions are curbed ... local and regional interventions can have a huge, positive impact and effect on the health and resilience of the reef. “What local initiatives can do is buy the reef a little bit of time to recover.

Hunt, E. (2017, March 31). Scientists print 3D models of Great Barrier Reef in bid to save it. [online] The Guardian. Available at:

Protecting Your Bright Ideas When you come up with your own ideas, you have a right to own them and to decide how they are used. These are called intellectual property rights. What is intellectual property? Intellectual property is about creations of the mind. The owners of such creations are granted certain exclusive rights under the law, if they take the appropriate steps to protect that property. The most common types of intellectual property include new methods, processes, products, product designs, written work, art, photographs, films, trade secrets, brands and logos. Intellectual property rights are an indispensable consideration in ensuring a start-up has the best possibility to succeed in the future. Some intellectual property rights exist automatically upon creation such as copyright. Others require formal registration, such as patents, designs and trade marks.

Trade Marks A trade mark is third type of registrable intellectual property right. The prime function of a trade mark is to act as a badge of origin of particular goods and services, distinguishing your goods and services from those of other businesses. Trade marks also serve as valuable tools to advertise, promote and develop start-up businesses. There is no legal obligation to register a trade mark, however, there are a number of significant advantages in terms of protection and value in obtaining rights in a registered trade mark rather than relying on rights in an unregistered trade mark.



A patent is a monopoly for an invention, which confers on the rights owner an exclusive right to use an invention in New Zealand for up to 20 years. After this timeframe, the public can use and develop the patented technology. In order for the rights in a patent to be granted to the owner, these need to be formally created through registration at a patent office. An invention is able to be patented when three requirements are met – it’s novel, useful and has an inventive step.

An example of an unregistered intellectual property right is copyright. Copyright protects many forms of original expression, including writing, art, photographs, music, films and broadcasts. Copyright arises automatically without any need for registration, provided certain requirements are met under the law. If someone uses an original work you have created without your permission, you can rely on copyright to protect your work.

Registered Designs A design is similar to a patent in that it needs to be registered and is for a monopoly, but a design protects the way in which a product looks. An example of a well-known design is Apple’s iPad, which has a registered design for its appearance. A registered design can last up to 15 years in New Zealand.

Protecting Your Bright Ideas Why is intellectual property important? In today’s competitive and dynamic environment, intellectual property can be a unique selling proposition (USP) of a product or service, and it helps create a sustainable and defensible differentiator for a company. Therefore, to retain a competitive market position, start-ups need to consider their intellectual property in the early stages of their growth. Start-ups should consider protecting their own intellectual assets through the use of patents, trade marks or other registered and unregistered rights. The proper and strategic use of intellectual property rights will provide a start-up with protection and security, and can be used as leverage with prospective investors. In addition, registered intellectual property rights can improve your ability to take action against potential infringers and obtain compensation if a third party does use your ideas without permission. A well-protected business results in protection for end users too, as customers know they are purchasing from a legitimate company that will uphold their consumer rights. Registered intellectual property rights can also prevent counterfeit products from causing you greater problems down the road, once you have a product in the marketplace.

Another indispensable benefit for start-up companies is the improved attractiveness to investors of companies who have registered their intellectual property rights or at least developed an IP strategy. For investors, these rights can increase the value of a start-up, thusimproving your ability to secure investment and raise the funds needed to grow your idea. Registered trade marks, for example, convert the goodwill of your business into a protectable property right and this is important when it comes time to assign or licence these rights in the future.

Dr Sudhanshu Ayyagari (Patent Executive)

You don’t necessarily need a fully-fledged intellectual property rights portfolio, but you should be able to demonstrate to investors that you at least understand the importance of intellectual property and know how you plan to go about securing your rights in the future.

If you’re curious to find out more about intellectual property, you can visit our website here or get in touch with us here.

Duncan Schaut (Senior Associate)

Former ASB Bright Sparks winner now at Facebook Leili Baghaei Rad is an accomplished product manager, based in San Francisco, who got her start here in New Zealand where she won a scholarship from ASB Bright Sparks in 2003. Leili credits her high school accounting teacher Ms Finlay and physics teacher Mr Batchelor for encouraging her interest in technology and innovation. She says, “Mr Batchelor started an electronics workshop where we would use kits to build small things such as burglar alarm systems, and he would stay late to help us out in any way he could.” Growing up in Christchurch, Leili attended Riccarton High School and completed a Bachelor of Engineering at University of Canterbury. Leili says “Once I got involved in physics at school, I gained enough confidence to start participating in different competitions such as Bright Sparks.” She entered the Bright Sparks competition during high school and won the 2003 scholarship to help fund her tertiary studies. After graduating with her bachelor’s degree she was awarded the Rebecca Lynch Memorial Scholarship which gave her the opportunity to study at the University of Idaho.At the University of Idaho she completed a Master of Science, before being awarded the J.R. Templin scholarship and completing a PhD at Stanford University. She comments that growing up she didn’t have a lot of female role models in science. “I didn’t really have a hero; there aren’t many role models for girls in technical fields. This is an interesting dilemma which I hope one day will go away.”

But as her career has progressed, she has found role models in some of the world’s biggest tech companies. When speaking with ASB Bright Sparks, she shared that her role models were Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer, Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki. Amazingly Leili has followed in the footsteps of these women – working for Google, Yahoo! and now Facebook. She’s currently a product manager for Search at Facebook. Of the role she says, “As a product manager you are responsible for the features that should be built in your product, future vision and release timeline. You are like the captain of the ship, you have to get input from everyone in the team and decide how to steer the ship successfully.” On her advice for young girls wanting to enter the innovation space she says, “Girls have been historically shy about going towards maths and physics. I have seen many women who are great in technology. I think the male stereotype for engineering, technology and science is wrong. Give it a shot for yourself and decide whether you like it or not.”

Dispensing great ideas comes naturally to Nathan All Nathan James wanted was an easier way to dispense products from the bulk bins at the supermarket. Now, through the ASB Bright Sparks competition, he has turned his idea into reality and is on his way to implementing his creation in supermarkets across the country. Nathan’s entry in the 2015 ASB Bright Sparks competition was iDispense – a smart bulk bin that allows grocery shoppers to get exactly the amount of product they need, by weight or price. He was inspired to invent a solution after always ending up with more than he wanted when using the existing bins at supermarkets. According to Nathan, ASB Bright Sparks provided the crucial platform on which he could bring his ideas to life. “The competition inspired me to develop an idea that incorporated electronics – it literally sparked in me an interest in electronics,” he says. “The mentorship and access to components via the ASB Bright Sparks forum helped me to take steps into an area I may not have otherwise ventured into. The support that is available through the forum is incredibly encouraging.”

Since entering numerous prototypes into ASB Bright Sparks over a number of years, Nathan has managed to gain significant international exposure for iDispense. He has presented it at the Dig My Idea innovation challenge, the Taiwan International Science Fair, and the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Pittsburgh. This has allowed Nathan to grab the attention of business mentors around the world and take iDispense a step closer to commercial viability – all while still at high school! “ASB Bright Sparks gave me the confidence to think about taking my idea further,” Nathan says. “The experience has helped me to develop tenacity; it has helped me to learn how to push through difficult situations when there doesn’t appear to be a solution.” At the moment, Nathan is currently refining iDispense and is preparing to do a test run at a supermarket to gain customer feedback. Even outside the project, he has plenty to keep him busy – he has another idea that has been “incubating for a while” that he wants to enter at this year’s ASB Bright Sparks competition, and

is getting ready to study Electrical Engineering at the University of Canterbury next year. Nathan gives a lot of credit to ASB Bright Sparks for helping him get to where he is today, highlighting its inspirational environment where like-minded creators can learn from each other. “I really appreciated the fact that the competition highlighted potential; it has really encouraged me to keep experimenting,” Nathan explains. “I still remember first attending the ASB Bright Sparks awards ceremony in 2010 and being in awe of what the older students were achieving, and wondering if I would be able to produce something of the same standard. It inspired me to keep trying.”

WIN WIN WIN! Challenge: A storm strikes while you are aboard the S.S. Bright Sparks cruise liner. Thrown overboard, lost and alone, you wash up on a small deserted island somewhere in the Caribbean Sea. With nothing but the clothes on your back and a few items that have drifted ashore from the wreck, you need to plan your escape to return to civilisation to make it back in time for the ASB Bright Sparks competition.

How do you use all these things to escape the island and return to civilisation? You must use all of the following items in some way: A smartphone (no signal/wifi/3G/4G)

2 metres of rope

A metal thermos

A coat hanger (metal)

Be creative, make us laugh. We have FIVE 3D Pens to give away! Wow us and you could win!

A knife (metal)

Send your answers to: by the 7th of August.

A pair of sunglasses

Also available to use are a handful of rocks and sticks, coconut trees, and the sand that surrounds you.

If you would like to continue receiving “The Bright Spark Bulletin” please email and let us know*! We can sign you up to our mailing list straight away. *By emailing us, you are consenting to letting us use your email address solely to send you the ASB Bright Spark eBook “The Bright Spark Bulletin”. You will not be added to any other mailing lists and your details will remain confidential.

Thanks to our sponsors for the 2017 ASB Bright Sparks competition!

The Spark - Edition 3  
The Spark - Edition 3