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Know How CRCA.ASN.AU • MAY 2019 • ISSUE 9
SPECIAL REPORT: FOOD FUTURES
Creating niche industries, fighting food waste and supporting sustainability p26
More than smart robots, AIs are creating a whole new infrastructure p20
Delivering better outcomes for patients without breaking the budget p32
From a PhD at the Low Carbon Living CRC, Dr Jemma Green is now taking her blockchain energy trading company to new markets overseas p16
SMART TRANSPORT • INDUSTRY COLLABORATION TIPS • CRC LEGACIES • ENERGY FROM WASTE
BY THE NUMBERS
Cooperative Research Centres in figures $265.7 million
Source: Individual CRCs, NSRC Summary CRC metrics, 2016 www.industry.gov.au/data-and-publications/ national-survey-of-research-commercialisation
THE COMMERCIALISATION EXPENDITURE FOR TOTAL SURVEYED CRCS PER $100 MILLION RESEARCH EXPENDITURE OVER THE 2015-16 PERIOD, AN INCREASE OF 22% SINCE 2005.
THE NUMBER OF PATENTS MAINTAINED IN AUSTRALIA AND OVERSEAS BY 33 CRCS (ACROSS AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY AND FISHING, MANUFACTURING, MINING AND SERVICES) SURVEYED IN 2015-16.
THE INCOME FROM NEW STARTUP COMPANIES FORMED BY THE CRCS SURVEYED IN 2015-16, WHICH INCREASED BY A FACTOR OF OVER 25 COMPARED TO THE 2005-2006 PERIOD.
THE NUMBER OF LOAS CONTRACTED BY THE CRCS OVER 2015-16 (LICENSES WITH AN OPTION TO ASSIGN INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS TO ANOTHER PARTY), A KEY INDICATOR OF INDUSTRY COLLABORATION.
THE TIME RESEARCHERS AT THE DIGITAL HEALTH CRC HAVE SPENT WORKING WITH 80 PARTNERS (INCLUDING RURAL AND REMOTE HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS, AGED CARE, REHABILITATION SERVICES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT) TO ESTABLISH THE AREAS WHERE DIGITAL HEALTH CAN HAVE THE GREATEST IMPACT.
THE TOTAL FUNDING SECURED FOR THE UNDERTAKING OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT TO HELP TRANSITION AUSTRALIAâ€™S ENERGY INFRASTRUCTURE TO LOW-CARBON FUELS BY THE FUTURE FUELS CRC.
THE NUMBER OF CRC POSTGRADUATES WHO TOOK UP EMPLOYMENT IN INDUSTRY OVER 2015-16.
THE NUMBER OF RESEARCH AND INDUSTRY PARTNERS INVOLVED IN THE CRC FOR HIGH PERFORMANCE SOILS, WHICH IS HEADQUARTERED AT THE UNIVERSITY OF NEWCASTLE AND FUNDED UNTIL 2027.
Opportunity through facing challenge
Chief Scientist for South Australia Professor Caroline McMillen South Australia can look to CRCs for examples of cross-sector collaboration and engagement.
Stepping into the role of Chief Scientist for South Australia has been energising. After seven great years in NSW, I say I am not ‘coming back’ to SA, rather I am re-joining the state at this next stage of its future. The sense of renewed confidence and optimism across SA has its genesis in new STEM ‘neighbourhoods’ and innovation corridors emerging across Adelaide, and the resurgence of key industry sectors in regional SA. There is no doubt SA is experiencing an economic transition with a shift from traditional manufacturing to areas including defence, shipbuilding, space, renewable energy, creative industries, health care and biotechnology. In a state with excellent universities and institutes, leading industry sectors and a government determined to grow high value jobs, what is the role of a Chief Scientist? One pillar for a State of Science plan that has emerged is the need to grow, attract and retain STEM talent from as early as primary school. There are opportunities to harness the energy
of champions working in schools, TAFE and universities to build deep STEM interest and capability — particularly for girls and women. There are other contenders for must-haves in a State of Science plan, including attracting STEM talent through growing research leadership in frontier technology areas, attracting global innovators and building a culture of collaboration and engagement spanning disciplines, institutions, states and countries. We are fortunate in Australia that CRCs provide examples of how cross-sector collaboration supports industry and governments to reimagine and deliver the future. We can trace the journey from the CRC for Satellite Systems to the recent launch of the Australian Space Agency, or from the CRC for Cell Therapy Manufacturing to the launch of Carina Biotech Pty Ltd. The coming months will see the pillars and strategies emerge of a fledgling State of Science plan before it is honed by colleagues across SA. I’m looking forward to the challenge!
13 28 46 Delivered by AusIndustry™
The Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) Program supports industry-led collaborations between industry, researchers and the community to deliver outcomes that will improve the competitiveness, productivity and sustainability of Australian industry. The CRC Program is delivered by AusIndustry in the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science and is open to all industry sectors and research disciplines with funds awarded through open competitive funding rounds. The CRC Program contains two funding streams: • CRC grants – supporting medium to long term industry-led collaborations, up to 10 years with no specified funding limit. • CRC Project grants – supporting short term, industry-led collaborative research, up to three years and $3 million. For further details on CRC and CRC Project funding rounds and how to apply visit business.gov.au or phone 13 28 46.
12 | Building tomorrow
How CRCs help us plan for a smarter, healthier world.
14 | Collaboration tips
Mark Forge from Collabforge on industry collaboration best practices.
18 | Legacy CRC benefits
The best of the CRCs closing down.
20 | AI’s next frontier
5 | Sports news
16 | CRC career success
Training the next generation in STEM.
6 | Mineral growth
The MinEx CRC on coiled tubing drilling.
7 | Smart move
Isotopes in environmental research.
The next move in smart transport.
8 | Pig power
10 | New CRCs in town
CRCs set to transform their industries.
26 | Securing our food future
Chair of Women on Boards Ruth Medd on creating leadership from STEM.
32 | Saving the patient
CRC medical breakthroughs that don’t cost the patient.
6 | ANSTO
7 | Alertness CRC
Developing smarter ways to sleep.
Greening up pork production.
Highly focused CRC-Projects are using AI to take tech innovation to new levels.
CRCs have transformed how we manage agriculture and food manufacturing.
Jemma Green’s PhD research led to her global blockchain energy business.
36 | A new direction
38 | Innovation, perspiration and consultation CRCA CEO Tony Peacock on the importance of planning.
9 | Lowitja
Community driven health research.
9 | CRC for Honey Bee Products Catalysing research for this crucial pollinator.
11 | CRC NA
Wild about rice up north.
11 | CRC ORE
Revolutionising ore extraction.
Job no. 3861-6 CRICOS 00123M
RESEARCH THAT SHAPES THE FUTURE
DISCOVER MORE ua.edu.au/impact-stories KNOWHOW MAGAZINE
IN THE NEWS
Grass roots field studies
Australia’s future workforce will depend heavily on STEM graduates, which is why D2D CRC has teamed with the Adelaide Crows football club and Crows Children’s Foundation to increase kids’ engagement with STEM. that few STEM programs use, but is highly popular,” says D2D CRC chief operating officer Niall Fay. Katie Gloede, manager of the STEMfooty program, says, “STEMfooty creates a comfortable environment for all students to identify with STEM concepts, no matter their physical skills, ability and experience with AFL.” Nigel Smart, Adelaide Crows chief operating officer, says the Australian Rules football club is pleased to help shape attitudes towards STEM as part of its ongoing commitment to supporting children in the community. “We’re thrilled to be part of this innovative program which aims to translate Australian kids’ love of footy into an appreciation, understanding and passion for the science and mathematics underlying the sport,” he says. — Brendan Fitzpatrick
KEEPING CATTLE ON TRACK CQUniversity’s Precision Livestock Management team is leading the world in the use of cutting-edge technology to automatically gather phenotypic data such as animal liveweight, pregnancy status and parentage, as well as improve the understanding of animal behaviours and monitoring their movements. Among their latest breakthroughs is a world-first trial of the Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) for GPS tracking of livestock. CQUniversity has been evaluating the potential for SBAS to improve livestock management, particularly the geolocation of animals at high resolution for behavioural monitoring. Using this system, CQUniversity has been able to track animal location at accuracies of 50cm rather than the traditional 5 metres achieved with uncorrected GPS systems. The project was born out of the Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information (CRCSI), and continues on through FrontierSI, a not-for-profit company established out of the CRCSI. By working hand-in-hand with commercial producers, industry partners and the Commonwealth CRC programs, CQUniversity is delivering on its promise of practical new tools to improve on-farm profitability and productivity.
Find out more about research with impact at CQUniversity. www.cqu.edu.au/researchimpact CRCA.ASN.AU
CRICOS: 00219C | RTO: 40939 | J_AD_190084
The football field has replaced the classroom in the STEMfooty collaborative program between D2D CRC and the Adelaide Crows AFL club.
Watching a football sail off the boot may be a thing of beauty to ardent footy fans, but few people ever stop to think about the science that goes into making the Sherrin fly. However, that is set to change following last year’s pilot program for 72 boys and girls from Adelaide primary schools who learned about science, technology and maths on the football field instead of the classroom. Activities included calculating the speed and angle of a soaring ball with the help of a laser range finder. Researchers from the Data to Decision Cooperative Research Centre (D2D CRC) teamed up with the Adelaide Crows Football Club to run the STEMfooty program, which is based on a highly successful US program. In 2019, a 10-week program aligned to the Year 7 curriculum will be rolled out. “This program presents great opportunities to engage students via a medium — sport —
KNOWHOW + ANSTO
Isotope research helping industry and the environment
Isotopic research techniques are a powerful tool for environmental scientists. Researchers at ANSTO are global leaders in this field and experts at tracing the tiny “fingerprints” isotopes leave as they move through earth systems such as water ways, our atmosphere and all living things.
Dr Debashish Mazumder, a Senior Environmental Research Scientist at ANSTO explains, “Plants produce organic carbon during photosynthesis. This carbon has a unique fingerprint which is passed on to animals as they consume the plant material, and this isotopic fingerprint is carried to the top of the food chain through predation. “Tracing these isotopic fingerprints helps us work out the relationship between species within an ecosystem and the source of their food, which is
essential for monitoring ecosystems and predicting changes. It can also play a powerful role in tracking the provenance of foodstuffs.” Mazumder says the fast growing aquaculture industry is an example. “Isotope analysis of fish tissue and feed can provide insight into the cost-effectiveness of fish farming, whether the fish is farmed or wild-caught, and offers insight into aquaculture’s environmental footprint.” ANSTO radiochemist Atun Zawadzki specialises in using a range of techniques,
Dr Mazumder’s research is helping the Australian aquaculture and seafood industries by developing tools to determine the geographic origin of seafood to combat food fraud.
including using the radioisotope lead-210 as a “clock” within sediment layers up to 150 years old. Because radioactive isotopes decay at a known rate, a chronology can be established. “Knowing the age of sediment layers and the substances present, we can construct a clear view of the environmental history of an area and investigate why and how changes have occurred,” says Zawadzki. For more information on how ANSTO uses isotopes for environmental research, visit ansto.gov.au.
Cheaper, faster mineral exploration
The $218 million MinEx CRC is the world’s largest exploration collaboration and brings deep new tech to the challenges faced from depleted resources.
in July 2018, focusing on mineral exploration technologies and inheriting some of the now defunct DET CRC’s research and commercialisation licenses. Typical exploration holes are 500m deep and the MinEX CRC research aims to double this. A parallel research program aims to harness data generated by onboard sensors to geo-steer the drill, either towards a predicted mineral lode or around a known or suspected obstacle. As well as being faster and cheaper than conventional drilling techniques, the CTD technology is safer as less direct human intervention is required, and environmentally superior because the system uses water rather than oil-based ‘mud’ compounds used in conventional drilling. — Gregor Ferguson
The RoXplorer Coiled Tubing Drilling rig enables safe, efficient mineral exploration.
The RoXplorer Coiled Tubing Drilling (CTD) rig that was commercialised by mining firms IMDEX and Barrick Gold in 2018 is now the platform for two complementary research programs at the new MinEx CRC. Originally developed by the Deep Exploration Technologies (DET) CRC, CTD technology replaces multiple individual rigid drill rods with a single, flexible steel tube wound on a spool. This makes drilling exploration holes much faster and cheaper, says Andrew Bailey, CEO of the MinEx CRC. The CTD system’s flexible steel tube is led by a drill that uses recirculated highpressure water to hammer or slice through rock, and can dig up to 110m a day, says Bailey. The assay samples are carried back to the surface by the water for analysis. Barrick Gold is one of 33 participants in the MinEx CRC that began operations
IN THE NEWS
Australians embrace the transport revolution in the digital age. Autonomous cars might sound revolutionary but they will only solve transport issues if they integrate with public transport and other vehicles. The real transport revolution looks at optimising links between public and private transport — and Australians are all for it. Mobility as a service (MaaS) taps into the digital age by integrating planning, booking and payment and allowing users to personalise their trip. First trialled in Gothenburg, Sweden, in 2013, MaaS has spread to a handful of cities around the world. New research by iMOVE, a new CRC for transport systems, has indicated 46 per cent of Australians would use a MaaS service. The 2018 report surveyed community attitudes of 4000 Australians, as well as industry experts and the status of MaaS around the world. “We hope to look at the international experience and leapfrog over it,” says Stacey Ryan, policy manager of Intelligent Transport
Systems Australia, an iMOVE CRC partner. The benefit of MaaS platforms is their potential to improve the efficiency of existing systems without building new transport infrastructure, which is extremely expensive. “Some people see MaaS as the holy grail of transport,” says Stacey. “It’s seamless.” So how long will Australians have to wait? “Some suggest six months — just add a ticketing and booking overlay to Google — while others say it will take five to 10 years because you need ticketing integration,” explains Stacey. “The reality is probably somewhere in between.” The initial focus of MaaS might be to serve niche markets, such as tourists or the visually impaired, adds Stacey. iMOVE is a collection of 44 partners in a 10-year project for R&D of innovative transport solutions and technologies for Australia. — Rebecca Blackburn
The iMOVE CRC is at the forefront of developing Mobility as a service (MaaS) technology for Australian transportation.
Developing smarter ways to sleep
Sleep disorders and inadequate sleep can cause real harm. Experts at the CRC for Alertness, Safety and Productivity (Alertness CRC) are working with institutions and industry partners, including global tech giant Philips, to potentially help millions of people improve their sleep health. “If you’re sleepy or sleep deprived, your performance goes down, your attention to detail and vigilance goes down, reaction time gets worse, your executive function gets worse, and your mood gets worse,” says Dr David White, Harvard professor and chief scientific officer at Philips Respironics. “That leads to higher absenteeism and decreased productivity in the workplace.” With two in five Australians not getting enough sleep, the economic cost was an estimated $26.2 billion in lost productivity in 2016–2017. Poor sleep is also linked to serious health problems. “Sleep disorders can lead to
mental illnesses, cardiovascular, kidney and urinary tract disease, diabetes and loss of cognitive function,” says White. That further loss of personal wellbeing was valued at $40.1 billion in 2016–2017. The Alertness CRC has partnered with sleep physicians and specialists in developing a range of clinically validated tools that could really make a difference to people’s lives, including the lives of family members who can also be affected by another person’s poor sleep. “For a wide variety of reasons, the vast majority of people do not address their sleep problems, such as sleep apnoea or insomnia, so they remain undiagnosed and untreated,” says White. “In this research partnership, we are collaboratively working on ways to help consumers improve their sleep as easily and effectively as possible.” — Brendan Fitzpatrick
IN THE NEWS
Pig power a game changer for pork producers Australian pork producers are creating biogas from the effluent at their piggeries, reports Cherese Sonkkila.
By the numbers: The Pork CRC
SOURCES: Pork CRC Annual Report 2017, p6; Pork CRC website | IMAGE: Dean Kinlyside
3.6 kg The drop
in CO2 equivalents by 2020–2021 (from 2010 levels) from greenhouse gas emissions of the Australian pork industry, according to a Life Cycle Assessment by Dr Stephen Wiedemann of Integrity Ag Services.
Pig farms in Australia are turning their waste product into an energy source by capturing and burning the methane from pig manure. The Bioenergy Support Program (BSP), an initiative by the Pork CRC, supported pork producers to plan, design and implement on-farm biogas systems. There are now more than 20 piggeries with operating biogas systems, which is 15 per cent of the national pig herd. A biogas system typically consists of a covered effluent treatment pond where the methane is captured and then used to generate electricity and heating. This system provides a way to reduce the farm’s carbon emissions because methane is 25 times stronger than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. Alan Skerman, program leader of the BSP and principal environmental engineer at the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries in Queensland, says they would run calculations to figure out how farmers could get the most out of a biogas system. “We would estimate what volume of gas they’d get and how they might best be able to use that gas to offset their existing energy bill,” he says. “We were some of the first people to install one of the systems,” says Edwina Beveridge,
a pork farmer from Young in New South Wales. “It’s magical. It’s great for the environment, it reduces our odour and it has really good economic impacts, as well.” She says the BSP was invaluable to the industry by providing scientific knowledge to fully utilise the resource. “We’re all farmers: we’re used to looking after our animals. Making bioenergy and electricity is a whole new world for us. Having clever people who really know the ins and outs of it has been a wonderful help.” Skerman says, “We were also able to give some advice on programs such as the carbon farming initiative and emissions reduction fund. So a lot of the producers were able to generate Australian carbon credit units which they were able to auction to produce further income.” Biogas systems could also be a game changer for pork sales. “It may be that in the future the industry could market pork for its low carbon emission qualities,” says Skerman. The Pork CRC concludes on June 30, 2019, with programs rolling into the industry-supported body Australasian Pork Research Institute Ltd.
16 per cent of the manure effluent from the Australian pig herd is now directed to biogas systems, compared to 2 per cent prior to the Bioenergy Support Program commencing. 80 per cent of
Australian producers have reduced the confinement of sows by 77–82 per cent, contributing to the term High Integrity Australian Pork, developed by the Pork CRC.
KNOWHOW + LOWITJA
Community driven health research
The Lowitja Institute Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health CRC will wrap up in 2019. Since 2014, with our 22 participants, we have achieved demonstrable benefit for the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. We have become a point of collaboration and have developed strong national and international networks. We have provided leadership in the promotion of a definition of value that incorporates what Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples hold to be true and intrinsically of value. The translation of those values into the research agenda enables a questioning of the status quo, privileges Indigenous knowledges, and ensures a new, sustainable and more empowering perspective for looking at issues that impact the health and wellbeing of Australia’s First Peoples. We are particularly proud that 68 per cent of our projects are led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health researchers and that our projects build in dynamic knowledge translation activities.
Lowitja Institute CRC Board and CEO, L-R: Mr Romlie Mokak (CEO), Professor Peter Buckskin, Ms June Oscar AO, Ms Pat Anderson AO (Chair), Mr Selwyn Button and Mr Ali Drummond.
We have supported innovative research projects in areas including early childhood development, young men’s health and wellbeing, the cultural determinants of health, the impact of negative discourse and strength-based alternatives. We convened, for the first time in Australia, an expert roundtable on disability in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, through which we identified critical areas of research. We are proud of our achievements since we began under the CRC program. The Lowitja Institute will continue to fulfil the vision of Dr Lowitja O’Donoghue AC CBE DSG to be a courageous organisation committed to social justice and equity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
A hive of activity in bee research The initial year of the CRC for Honeybee Products (CRCHBP) marks the start of the greatest concentration of research effort in the history of the honey bee sector in Australia. “We’re proud to be a catalyst in accelerating research and new solutions, and products are already coming to light due to our diverse academic expertise and a fast-growing and demanding industry,” says Liz Barbour, CRCHBP CEO. Barbour believes 2018 was a watershed year for honey bees in Australia. “Land use changes and intensified fire management are challenging the reliable and diverse supply of bee food, and impacting bee health, as never before,” she says. Climate change and shifting patterns of nectar flow have also caused uncertainty in the industry. Barbour says the industry has also suffered from misleading accusations of adulterated honey during 2018. “This caught the world’s honey industry ill-prepared, and there was no
chemical analysis system able to provide a clear answer to adequately address the public’s confidence,” she says. CRCHBP has been at the forefront in trying to establish techniques and testing policies to address this problem. A worldwide focus on ‘saving the bee’ has attracted more people to beekeeping. This has led CRCHBP to develop better training programs for beekeepers to help protect Australia’s envied biosecurity status. Barbour says the global buzz around New Zealand’s Manuka honey also offers a potential boon for Australian honey. “CRCHBP has been successfully developing the other 80 Leptospermum species throughout Australia,” she says. “Some of these species have higher levels of active antimicrobial ingredients than reported from New Zealand.”
CRC FOR HONEY BEE PRODUCTS The CRC for Honeybee Products is seeking to revolutionise Australia’s honey industry.
IN THE NEWS Dr Steven Lapidge heads the Fight Food Waste CRC and brings a wealth of experience working with agribusiness CRCs.
The Soil CRC helps farmers reduce fertiliser usage and increase yields by better soil performance.
New CRCs start up
Four new CRCs are set to change the game in digital health, future fuels, soil health and food waste.
CRC FOR HIGH PERFORMANCE SOILS: NEW PROJECTS
TRANSFORMING LIVES THROUGH DIGITAL HEALTH
The Digital Health CRC, announced in April 2018, has spent the past 10 months working with 80 partners across Australia to establish the areas where digital health can have the greatest impact for communities, government and business. “We have identified rural and remote health, primary and acute care, rehabilitation after injury, home and work and, very significantly, aged care as our areas of focus,” says Dr Victor Pantano, the new CEO of the Digital Health CRC. “We are creating projects in each of these areas that we expect will improve patient outcomes, reduce costs for government, and create new opportunities for businesses large and small.”
Fifteen research projects featuring partners from across Australia will receive $5.6 million in funding and contribute $10.8 million of in-kind support in the latest round of Soil CRC funding. The Soil CRC, headquartered at the University of Newcastle, brings together 39 research and industry partners from across Australia. Scientists, industry and farmers from around the nation are working together to find practical solutions for underperforming agricultural soils. The supported projects will run over the next two to three years and will deliver tangible benefits for farmers.
FIGHTING FOOD WASTE WITH INNOVATIVE RESEARCH
CLEAN FUELS FOR THE FUTURE The Future Fuels CRC (FF CRC) is a partnership between six universities, two state-based energy regulators, and more than 60 companies through industry associations. Announced in April 2018, the FF CRC has secured more than $90 million in funding to undertake R&D to help transition Australia’s energy infrastructure to low-carbon fuels such as hydrogen and biogas. The FF CRC generates projects through three research programs, all of which come from industry. “We do research that end users are looking for, to solve problems or opportunities, or answer questions with new knowledge in that space,” says FFCRC CEO David Norman. “When you need new areas of understanding linking academia, industry and government agencies, you have to start now.”
Food waste is a global issue with losses valued at $1.7 trillion per annum. The $121 million Fight Food Waste CRC (FFW CRC) will address Australia’s $20 billion food waste challenge. The 10-year organisation commenced in July 2018 and will conduct research to reduce food waste and improve the profitability and sustainability of the Australian food industry, working with its 57 participants and other stakeholders to deliver outcomes which solve industry-identified problems. These outcomes are focused on reducing food supply chain losses and food waste; donating more food to charity; and discovering new sources of revenue for food producers, manufacturers and retailers from food waste. The organisation includes an education and behavioural change program which will engage with industry and consumers and train future industry professionals.
KNOWHOW + CRCNA
Wild about rice up north CRCNA research seeks to help rice producers tap into the opportunity offered by northern Australia’s climate to meet huge Asian demand for wild rice products. For more than 10,000 years, people in Australia’s Top End have harvested and eaten native rice, which grows wild in wetlands and includes genetically diverse small-grained species that are nutritious and able to resist drought and disease. Researchers analysing rice DNA tracked the origins of northern Australia’s wild rice to ancient strains from Africa. Several species were cross-bred with domesticated rice to boost production, and new gourmet markets now exist for this ancient grain. The CRC for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA) has announced a new 18-month, $505,000 research collaboration to investigate the northern Australian rice sector. The project will evaluate three northern rice industry scenarios: producing wild rice, creating a unique northern Australian rice
CRC ORE staff David La Rosa and Eiman Amini at the production trial site at Minera San Cristóbal in Bolivia.
variety, and commercialising wild rice genes to boost global production. The project brings together the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) at the University of Queensland, Charles Darwin University, Western Australia’s Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Queensland’s Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Rice Research Australia (SunRice), Olive Vale Pastoral and Savannah Ag Consulting at James Cook University’s Cairns Institute. QAAFI’s Professor Robert Henry says northern Australia is well placed to capitalise on emerging markets for speciality wild rice products, potentially worth around $10 million per year within five years. CRCNA chair Sheriden Morris says the project — one of eight industry situational
Northern Australia rice industry collaborators, L-R: Russell Ford (SunRice), Professor Robert Henry (QAAFI), Jed Matz (CEO, CRCNA) and Paul Ryan (Olive Vale Pastoral).
analyses funded by the CRCNA in 2017–2018 — will zero in on the opportunities for traditional owners and agriculturalists. The outcome will include an ‘action plan’ for industry and inform future CRCNA investment and research.
Rejecting mine waste can save billions
CRC ORE technology promises to revolutionise ore extraction and enable mining to become more profitable and environmentally sustainable. Globally, conventional mining methods are becoming less efficient and more expensive. Fewer high-grade ore pockets remain and they are increasingly difficult to access. The Cooperative Research Centre for Optimising Resource Extraction (CRC ORE) aims to use innovation to improve value and reverse declining productivity in the mining industry. CRC ORE’s Grade Engineering technology will help miners improve the recovery of valuable ore by identifying which separation process is most effective for the specific ore’s characteristics. Less energy and water will be used by rejecting most of the waste material at the beginning of the value chain, then only milling the higher-grade material to extract the desired mineral. A full-scale production trial of Grade Engineering is currently underway at Minera San Cristóbal S.A. (MSC) in Bolivia — a major global producer of zinc, lead and silver.
The trial involves CRC ORE and its participants, mine owner Sumitomo Corporation, and equipment supplier Metso. Dr Ben Adair, CRC ORE CEO says initial results of the trial are impressive. “So far, results show that by applying Grade Engineering to areas previously designated as ‘mineralised waste’, the feed grade to the mill can be increased more than 2.5 times,” he says, adding that waste material can potentially be converted into high-grade ore feed. “In this case, the big benefit of Grade Engineering is its potential ability to extend the life of the mine and add up to $1 billion to its value,” says Dave King, MSC operations director. Australian mine operators are keenly watching the trial and CRC ORE is currently working with Australian participants to secure equivalent trials at their production sites.
BUILDING TOMORROW How CRCs are helping to plan for a smarter, healthier world.
CRC ORE’s Grade Engineering will reduce mining water and energy use, and CO2 emissions, by up to 20 per cent.
Schools will reduce carbon emissions by 20 per cent per student each year and save over $30 per student in utility bills thanks to the ClimateClever program supported by CRC for Low Carbon Living.
Energy Pipelines CRC has developed maintenance programs improving the safety of water and gas pipelines across Australia.
Pork CRC has reduced greenhouse gas emissions from pork production by more than 60 per cent since 2010 and aims to reduce this by a further 9 per cent.
Keeping us safe
On the move
The Bushfire & Natural Hazards CRC has introduced improved public safety campaigns and urgent natural hazard warning messages for Australian emergency service agencies.
The iMove CRC is changing transport futures through trials of connected and automated vehicles and on-demand transport.
Wastewater and sites contaminated by PFAS chemicals from firefighting foams are cleaned up using CRC CARE’s matCARE technology.
Unsightly and dangerous overhead tramlines will disappear from cities thanks to Rail Manufacturing CRC’s onboard supercapacitor technology.
Building better business
Trading and surveillance technologies to detect fraud, abuse, waste and error developed by Capital Markets CRC will restore consumer trust and save billions of dollars.
Novel preclinical targets developed by Cancer Therapeutics CRC have already delivered $40 million in pharmaceutical revenue with a potential to grow to $1 billion long-term.
Human-centric lighting can promote alertness and healthy sleep; architects and designers will use Alertness CRC software to improve productivity and safety through better lighting design.
Thousands of Australians will benefit from advances in robotic surgery and just-in-time medical implants developed by Innovative Manufacturing CRC.
Focus on food
Improved soil management will deliver up to $400 million income to Australian farmers through reduced input costs and higher yields due to Soil CRC technologies.
CRC for Developing Northern Australia improves data transfer between farms and consumers using IoT sensors attached to pallets of fresh mangoes logged with blockchain.
Fight Food Waste CRC will tackle Australiaâ€™s $20 billion food waste issue by reducing food waste, transforming unavoidable waste into higher-value products, and engaging with households and businesses, including food charities.
The CRC for Honey Bee Products helps secure crops by strengthening pollination, increasing confidence in Australian honey and improving training and regulations for apiarists.
COLLABORATION: GETTING IT RIGHT
Collaboration expert Dr Mark Elliott works with end-users, industry groups, and research and government organisations to ensure great collaboration. Here are his top tips for CRCs.
COLLABORATE TO INNOVATE
Collaboration is at the heart of CRCs, which are formed to deliver outcomes via partnerships between government, researchers and industry. Collaboration expert Dr Mark Elliott, who heads up consultancy practice Collabforge, says effective collaboration begins by having a clear, mutually agreed definition between the participating partners of what the collaborative process covers. “For everyone involved in a CRC program, there’s a decent amount of collaboration that has to happen up front, just to get your bid prepared and submitted,” he says. That’s the stage when you need to define and agree on each partner’s role within the project, he says. “Collaboration crosses a huge spectrum. For some, a collaborative project will just involve a certain level of
food fraud KNOWHOW MAGAZINE
communication between two parties. For others, the collaboration stretches all the way from design to creation; it involves joint decision making, a flat hierarchy and mutual commitment to defined goals.” There are many levels of collaboration that sit between those two extremes, adds Elliott, and it’s important everyone involved has a good feel for where their project sits on that spectrum. New groups have to learn how to collaborate together, and there’s capabilities that take time to develop, he explains. Decisions have to be negotiated over simple things such as what tools and processes will be used — Mac versus Windows, anyone? “Ultimately, collaborative success comes down to practice and setting aside time to learn how to work together,” he says. “To prepare your collaboration means that when you’re under pressure to deliver, you’ve rehearsed your moves. It’s what soccer teams do, it’s what rock bands do.”
START AS YOU MEAN TO CONTINUE Elliott says one advantage for CRCs is that the process of building a bid together can establish good relationships from the beginning — if handled well. CRCs tend to operate with a light core team, says Elliott, but he believes it’s worth having collaboration skills as a key part of your in-house skill set. “There are some easy and clever ways to do this,” he says. “At the time a CRC is hiring to fill a communications or partner engagement role, they can also build into the role the importance of collaborative skills as part of the job description.” The coordination role is also key to ensure a collaborative group has ‘a single
source of truth’, he adds. “People who come together to collaborate in crossorganisational settings often like to keep their own notes. However, it’s critical there is a shared representation of what people have said and what the ongoing plan is.” That’s where collaborative tools come into their own. “There are so many great tools out there — Google Docs is an obvious example — where people can get in and work on the same thing from the beginning,” says Elliot. “It allows a unified voice to emerge.”
GETTING USEFUL OUTCOMES FROM COLLABORATIVE MEETINGS Elliott says there are some useful techniques that can be used to ensure groups of more than 10 people are contributing effectively. “One technique is where you have a topic or question on which you genuinely want broad feedback, ask people to spend two minutes writing down their notes before going around the room,” he says. It’s a simple but effective strategy that minimises the amount of talking each person does, before they get to the idea they want to share. Another technique is a ‘round-robin’ where the question is posed and each person around the room is asked for their response before the question is opened up to a discussion. “People feel they’ve been heard, they can see that others can reflect on their feedback, and often common themes will emerge.” A trained facilitator can decipher body language and bring out a variety of reactions to different points that are raised, he adds.
Pairing Blockchain-IoT technologies, smart contracts and secure payment systems to create value through credentialed authenticity for Australian beef. A BeefLedger, QUT and Food Agility CRC partnership to reduce the incidence of food fraud through innovation.
CRCA.ASN.AU © QUT 2019 23983
CRICOS No. 00213J
CASE STUDY — LOW CARBON LIVING CRC: PARTICIPANT AND END USER WORKSHOP The Collabforge team helped the Low Carbon Living CRC (CRCLCL) set up a full day workshop as part of their annual Participant Summit. However, the workshop didn’t follow the usual format. “Typically a two-day event with 100 or so people such as this one will run as a conference with various panels and presentations, and most participants just sit and listen to a select few,” says Dr Mark Elliott, Collabforge director and founder. Collabforge facilitator Hailey Cooperrider reversed the usual timeline of project development and had participants first identify long-term outcomes, then work
backwards to develop specific project ideas that could get them there. The focus was on collaboration, idea sharing and creating a shared vision, she says. “Our goal was to move from jumping into specific project ideas, and to get people thinking about the broader impacts they want to make towards the future they want to create. Also to give people lots of time to talk to each other, rather than sitting in a lecture theatre listening. “It was about creating shared understanding in the group, and shared vision and buy-in to project people into the future.”
LISTEN TO INNOVATION THOUGHTS, A PODCAST BY THE CRC ASSOCIATION Hosted by CRC Association CEO Tony Peacock, each episode of Innovation Thoughts features an interview with an expert in science or industry. Subscribe via your preferred podcast platform to be notified of new episodes, or see them on our social media channels.
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Water flow patterns, Western Darling Downs, near Miles. Our high resolution models help farmers and land managers by using aerial photography to see processes not visible to the CRCA.ASN.AU human eye, such as water flow patterns under trees in forests.
KNOWHOW MAGAZINE B&M | 19-00119
CRC research leads to career success
Energy trading and asset financing company Power Ledger is heading OS. Larissa Fedunik-Hofman reports.
The inspiration for Power Ledger stemmed from co-founder Jemma Green’s PhD on electricity market democratisation. Funded by the CRC for Low Carbon Living (CRCLCL), Dr Green designed a solar and battery system for apartments (the first of its kind in Australia) and an energy trading platform to allow peer-to-peer trading using blockchain. This foray into destructive innovation led Dr Green to co-found Power Ledger, a platform designed to ease the global transition to low-carbon energy by decentralising energy and allowing ordinary people to become investors in renewable energy assets. “Our technology uses blockchain to enable energy trading, energy asset financing and carbon markets,” explains
Dr Green. “Our corporate mission is the democratisation of power and the delivery of low cost and low carbon energy markets.” Power Ledger allows consumers to sell and trade electricity from a residential energy generation system using a blockchain environment. Renewable energy assets are tokenized so they become tradeable on the secondary market. “Everyday people can invest in and co-own these assets, whereas previously it had been the domain of institutional investors,” says Dr Green. This year, Power Ledger will launch their energy product: a grid connected battery and commercial solar farm. The company is also involved in issuing and trading on carbon credit and is
currently working across four countries to tokenize carbon credit so it can be traded on the exchange. Last year, Power Ledger was the winner of the Extreme Tech Challenge, and the team travelled to Las Vegas and Richard Branson’s Necker Island to pitch their business concept. Dr Green says the original CRC funding was a life-changing opportunity. “I’m enormously grateful for the risk the CRCLCL took investing in me. We’re a group of passionate experts in blockchain and technology at Power Ledger and with scaling and commercialisation, we hope to make a big difference to achieving the Paris climate goals.”
CRC PHDS BY THE NUMBERS
Following research funding from the CRCLCL, Dr Jemma Green co-founded energy trading platform Power Ledger.
The number of PhD students undertaking in-depth research into real-world data science challenges through the Data to Decisions (D2D) CRC, exceeding the scholarship target of 52.
The fraction of PhDtrained researchers in Australia who work in industry.
The number of CRC postgraduates who took up employment in industry in 2016.
50% The recommended proportion of PhD graduates who should be employed in the private sector, according to Universities Australia report, A smarter Australia: an agenda for higher education 2013–2016.
Fast-track to success
Each year at the CRC Association Annual Conference a number of early career researchers are selected to attend and present. This year’s finalists present their groundbreaking research.
CHRISTINA PARKER, QUT Watch Cristina’s video: bit.ly/ParkerECRA Chronic venous leg ulcers affect large numbers of individuals and are a significant cause of pain, decreased functional ability and poor quality of life as well as a burden on health system resources. I have developed a risk assessment tool for delayed healing of venous leg ulcers which helps predict whether a wound will heal within 24 weeks, with scores guiding early interventions. TANYA BABAEFF, CRC FOR LOW CARBON LIVING Watch Tanya’s video: bit.ly/BabaeffECRA As we walk the precarious path of climate change, the need to engender sustainable lifestyles has become an imperative. Fortunately, with major Australian cities densifying inner neighbourhoods, the opportunity to deliver new sustainable housing precincts is here and now. By examining such a housing precinct, my research uncovers the contingent role of community participation in facilitating institutional change away from traditional housing development norms toward innovation for holistic sustainability.
techniques I am using will potentially be used in the clinic to assess people with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and a host of other neurological disorders.
collaboration between the consumers and the utility and focuses on power demand and network utilisation (and cost) rather than energy and independence.
LIO HEBERT, CRC FOR LOW CARBON LIVING Watch Lio’s video: bit.ly/HebertECRA Most countries that have had strong uptake in rooftop photovoltaic (PV) are now experiencing an increase in electricity bills and their electric utilities are struggling financially. My research takes a new approach to energy supply and develops a new business model that supports an even stronger uptake of rooftop PV (particularly by industrial and commercial energy customers), protects the revenue of the utility and reduces the electricity bills for all consumers. The proposed solution involves new levels of
JOSEPH O’LEARY, SPACE CRC Watch Joseph’s video: bit.ly/OLearyECRA It would be difficult to make it through a single day without relying on some type of space-based technology. As the space environment becomes more populated, it is increasingly imperative that the dynamics of near-Earth objects, such as GPS satellites, be fully understood. My research provides a better theoretical understanding of the mechanics of near-Earth objects by consulting improved theories of gravity, such as Einstein’s general theory of relativity.
RICARDO MESQUITA, EDITH COWAN UNIVERSITY Watch Ricardo’s video: bit.ly/MesquitaECRA Some of us may have wondered why our muscles get tired. The mechanisms from the brain to the muscle that underpin fatigue are not yet fully described. Our brain does not directly command the muscles to move. Half-way, we have amazing nerve cells that speed up the information that is sent to the muscles. I aim to find out if this increase in signal speed is impaired during exercise. The
WINDING UP ON A HIGH NOTE Eleven CRCs are coming to the end of their term this year. We take a look at who they are — and list some of their many achievements.
CAPITAL MARKETS CRC ACTIVE PERIOD 1 July 2014 to 30 Ju ne 2019 — 5 years CRC FUNDING $32.35 million PARTNERS Over 30 partners; 16 ind 10 universities, suc ustry partners; h University, Sydney as Macquarie Un UTS and WSU; and iversity, UNSW, four government partners including NS Transport Accident W Health and Commission. MAJOR ACHIEVEM ENTS · Established Loric a He data analytics to ide alth — delivers nti waste and errors in fy fraud, abuse, he · Created data analy alth organisations. tics tools for marke trading in different t sectors such as digital currency an d energy research. cmcrc.com
G CRC LOW CARBON LIVIN ACTIVE PERIOD ne 2019 — 7 years 1 July 2012 to 30 Ju CRC FUNDING $28 million PARTNERS ing five universities 10 partners, includ , BlueScope Steel, alia str Au and AECOM , CSIRO and Sydney Brookfield Multiplex . Water Corporation ENTS MAJOR ACHIEVEM jects on track to • 120+ successful pro gatonnes by 2020. reduce CO2 by 10 me r waste into powe • Repurposed coal- concrete bollards. r marine geo-polyme able energy ew • Power Ledger ren trading platform. ools education • Climate Clever sch nes of CO2 in WA. ton 6 26 ed sav ot — pil .com.au lowcarbonlivingcrc
ENERGY PIPELINES CRC ACTIVE PERIOD 1 January 2010 to 30 June 2019 — 9.5 years CRC FUNDING $17.48 million PARTNERS n • Australian Pipelines and Gas Associatio • Deakin University • RMIT University • University of Adelaide • University of Wollongong MAJOR ACHIEVEMENTS • System to identify remaining lifetime of polyethylene (PE) pipes by assessing material grade, pipe location and age. • Identified new low-carbon hydrogen and syngas opportunities. epcrc.com.au
CRC FOR CEL MANUFACLTUTHERAPY RING
ACTIVE PERI O 1 July 2013 to D 30 June 2019 — 6 years CRC FUNDIN G $20 million PARTNERS • Athersys In c. • Exylika • Med • Cell Therapies • Queensland vet Science • NextCell • Royal Adelai University of Technology de Hospital • • St Vincent’s SA Pathology In • Terumo BCT stitute of Medical Research Australia • Un Inc. • University of South iversity of Sy dney MAJOR ACH IEVEMENTS • Spin-offs: Ca • CAR-T imm rina Biotech and TekCyte. un for human cl otherapy cancer treatm in ent • TekCyte cont ical trials by 2020. organisations ract research sold to • TekCyte to in the cell therapy indust m ry. CRC’s cell bioparket CTM technologies rocessing . ctmcrc.com
ACTIVE PERIOD 1 July 2011 to 30 June 201 9 — 8 years CRC FUNDING $19.86 million PARTNERS 13 partners, including fou r universities; Department of Primary Ind ustries and Regions, South Australia; and multiple industries and producers associations. MAJOR ACHIEVEMENTS • Improved birth outcomes for sows and piglets using enriche d feed. • Developed antibiotic and vaccine guidelines to combat swi ne • Pork Quality Score — pre diseases. dicts eating quality for pork based on eight factors. porkcrc.com.au
HEARING CRC ACTIVE PERIOD ne 2019 — 5 years 1 July 2014 to 30 Ju CRC FUNDING $28 million PARTNERS Services • Australian Hearing University rie • Cochlear • Macqua of Melbourne ity • Sivantos • Univers
ENTS MAJOR ACHIEVEM t’ Hearing Education • Created ‘HEARne ng ork to explain heari and Research Netw gies and hearing olo hn tec . loss, hearing ing training website rehabilitation, includ s plus me • Four research the arm to develop n a commercialisatio , improved hearing hearing test softwarel algorithms. na aids and sound sig g hearingcrc.or
ENT NVIRONTM SPACE EG RC C N E MANA EM
DATA TO DECISIONS CRC ACTIVE PERIOD 1 July 2014 to 30 June 201 9 — 5 years CRC FUNDING $25 million PARTNERS • Attorney-General’s Departm • Australian Federal Police ent • BAE Systems • Deakin University • Dept of • eResearch SA • Genix Ven Defence ture • Go Pivotal • Leidos • SAS Institute Aus tral Sciences Research • Univers ia • Semantic ity • University of NSW • Univers of Adelaide ity of SA MAJOR ACHIEVEMENTS • Data Science Competenc y and Development Plannin Framework g Tool, provides professional guid elin for the data science workfo es rce. • Fivecast Ltd develops AI powered behavioural risk analytics solution for the $10 billion global visa risk assessment market. d2dcrc.com.au
INSTITUTE THE LOWAITNJA RRES STRAIT TO D AL H CRC LT ABORIGINN A E H R ISLA DE OD ACTIVE PERI 30 June 2019 — 5 years to 14 20 ly 1 Ju G CRC FUNDIN $25 million PARTNERS stitute for Aboriginal and • Australian In lander Studies • Central Is Torres Strait iginal Congress • Edith or Australian Ab ty • Flinders University si ol Cowan Univer University • Menzies Scho • James Cook arch • QIMR Berghofer of Health Rese ch Institute • University ar Medical Rese • University of NSW of Melbourne IEVEMENTS ying MAJOR ACH llaborative ways of carr co ed uc • Introd . d search out health re genous patient journeys an d • Mapped Indi s in policy, education an ch ng applied findi idelines for conditions su health care gu ns, renal impairment, io as skin infect and mental health. JD M , ia m ae an u lowitja.org.a
OD ACTIVE PERI 30 June 2019 — 5 years 1 July 2014 to G CRC FUNDIN n io ill m 83 9. $1 sity PARTNERS ational Univer • Australian N stems • RMIT University Sy e ac • EOS Sp IEVEMENTS MAJOR ACH to reduce space es gi lo no ch Te e Object • ing SERC Spac debris includ C), the Geo Tracker O Catalogue (S automated space Telescope, an system feeding into ng object tracki njunction assessments the SOC for co ased laser system -b and a ground space debris away to manoeuvre s. from collision serc.org.au
R SHEEPTION CRC FOIN NOVA INDUSTRY
THE ANTARCTIC, CL IMATE & ECOSYSTEMS CR C ACTIVE PERIOD Funded since 1991. Mo 1 July 2014 to 30 Ju st recent funding ne 2019 — 5 years CRC FUNDING $25 million PARTNERS • Alfred Wegener Ins titute • Australian Antarctic Division • Bureau of Meteorol ogy • CSIRO • Departmen t • National Institute of Environment of Atmospheric Resea Water and rch Ltd • University of Tasmania MAJOR ACHIEVEM EN • Recorded changes TS in and biological prope physical, chemical rtie Ocean, Antarctic ice s of the Southern sheet and nearby sea ice to create his tor • Described and mo ic climate records. de • Researched impa lled sea-level rise. cts potential climate ch of an on Antarctic ecosyste ge ms. acecrc.org.au
OD ACTIVE PERI 30 June 2019 — 5 years 1 July 2014 to G CRC FUNDIN $15.5 million r Corp PARTNERS eat Processo A • Australian M of Agriculture and Food W t, t • Departmen of Economic Developmen t • Departmen t and Resources Vic or Jobs, Transp of Primary Industries NSW t • Departmen stock Australia • Murdoch lia ve • Meat and Li eepmeat Council of Austra University • Sh and Development Institute • SA Research New England • University of rs Australia • WoolProduce ic IEVEMENTS MAJOR ACH ng tools including genom di st ee te br le p ofi ee Pr Sh k • ns, DNA Floc trait predictio training tool and app. ct le Se m Ra and p farming • ASKBILL shee e and pest ur st pa , weather stem. information sy ading system. gr • DEXA meat and handle rt • Wool comfo -to-skin garments. xt meters for ne .au sheepcrc.org
THE FRONTIER OF AI Multi-million dollar CRC-Projects are using artificial intelligence to take tech innovation to new levels. Heather Catchpole asks what’s next for AI.
“It’s like we’re discovering a new continent with AI that’s going to essentially transform the way we do business.” KNOWHOW MAGAZINE
While AI will disrupt the workforce, it will significantly boost Australia’s productivity and national income.
NEW AI INVESTMENT 2018–19 SECTOR: Ag-tech
Smart tools for agronomic crop insights using machine learning and AI
roles in fields as diverse as law and retail. It controls news feeds, translates languages and dictates your binge-watching habits. Like it or not, everything from personal shopping to pharmacology is being revolutionised by artificial intelligence (AI) . In 2019, the question is, where won’t you find AI? When Google Photos or Facebook recognise your friends and family’s faces, they’re using AI. AI can detect insurance fraud, and even replace a lawyer for simple tasks. But while it can identify pests and diseases on crops, it has trouble mastering video games where any sort of intuitive leap of faith needs to be made. AI is a set of technologies that includes machine learning, vision processing, data prediction tools, deep learning, cognitive computing, autonomous systems, data science, and intelligent robotics. “It’s a whole bunch of different things that do tasks that humans require thought to do,” says Toby Walsh, scientia professor of AI at the University of New South Wales and Data61. Walsh is chairing a report on AI for the Chief Scientist as part of the Horizon Scanning Series into next stage technologies, due to be released shortly. So what are the next frontiers of AI, and where might it lead us? The range of technologies collectively referred to as AI are being employed across multiple industries. New SMEs, research and industry partnerships set up as short-term CRC-Projects (CRC-Ps) are using AI to
deliver remote healthcare, trade digital cash, improve cropping and food processing, and even help us with property investments.
SHOW ME THE MONEY Google Australia managing director Jason Pellegrino predicted AI and automation will significantly boost Australia’s productivity and national income — potentially adding up to $2.2 trillion in value to our economy by 2030. In 2017, a PwC report estimated AI will add US$15.7 trillion dollars in real terms to the global economy, driving global GDP 14 per cent higher by 2030. The Australian government invested $25 million of the 2018–2019 budget in AI CRC-Ps. Those funds are matched by industry and R&D partners keen to take Australian innovation into a global market hungry for the cost savings and job generation promised by AI (see box at right). Is it enough? The federal government came under fire for falling behind in investment in a January 2019 article in The Australian Financial Review. The CRC-Ps aim to address gaps in AI and machine learning capability in Australia and drive global competitiveness in the sector. But by comparison to international investment, it’s a drop in the ocean. Experts are predicting a 83 per cent increase in spending on AI globally by 2021, and the Asia-Pacific region alone will invest $4.6 billion in AI in the next two years. While banking and healthcare are the biggest spenders, investing $65.5 million
Automating data collection and analytics in underground mines using drones and AI
Emesent Holding Pty Ltd, CSIRO, Northern Star Resources Ltd, C.R. Kennedy & Company Pty Ltd
SECTOR: Real estate
Sharpening land and property decisions with AI
FrontierSI, Domain Holdings Australia Pty Ltd, UNSW, Omnilink Pty Ltd, Liverpool City Council Office of Finance and Services
*Total investment including CRC-P grant allocation. More information available at bit.ly/KnowHowCRCP
T’S REPLACING TRADITIONAL HUMAN
Flurosat Pty Ltd, Aglink Pty Ltd, The Trustee for the McGregor Gourlay Agricultural Services, Pursehouse Rural Pty Limited, CSIRO, Agworld Pty Ltd, Precision Cropping Technologies Pty Ltd
TECHNOLOGY Medical technologies are being widely supplemented by machine learning and AI.
“It is not that machines are going to replace chemists, it’s that the chemists who use machines will replace those that don’t.”
and $47.3 million respectively, every industry plans to pour money into AI. “We’re seeing immense investment, because there’s immense opportunity,” says Walsh. “Germany’s spending €3 billion on AI research, France €1.5 billion, and Britain a billion pounds. Even India’s investing half a billion dollars. “It’s like we’re discovering a new continent with AI that’s going to essentially transform the way we do business.”
UNIQUELY AUSTRALIAN CHALLENGES Global market intelligence firm, the International Data Corporation identified 23 areas where AI investment is likely to peak. This includes digital assistants, diagnostic and treatment systems, intelligent processing automation, expert shopping advisors and product recommendations, public safety and emergency response systems and automated preventative maintenance response. Australia is particularly competitive in ag-tech, mining, medicine, and fin-tech sectors, says Walsh. “AI offers us great opportunity to improve the way we treat the environment, and husband our resources, but we need to make sure we’re making the right choices. We also need to ensure we’re not leaving
segments of society behind — autonomous cars work better in cities, for example, where there are white line markings on the road.” Much of the new AI tech will hit the ground in metro areas first. Some, however, like the newly funded telehealth CRC-P led by Australian software company Coviu, offers unique opportunities to help people in remote areas. Coviu is a start-up led by computer scientist and former Google engineer Dr Silvia Pfeiffer. Thanks to a $2.9 million government grant, a video conferencing and networking platform that spun out of Pfeiffer’s research at CSIRO is being integrated with AI software to allow physiotherapists to monitor the progress of knee replacement patients. Coviu estimates that rolling out telehealth to remote areas could reduce healthcare costs for patients and health insurers by up to 65 per cent, with the overall savings for the healthcare system estimated to be over $140 million, freeing up 60,000 hospital beds annually. The CSIRO are a partner in the CRC-P, along with the University of Western Australia, and the HFRC physiotherapy clinic. “Rural and remote patients don’t have access to a physiotherapist, and so they get
held in hospital longer. They take up beds that other patients could take,” says Pfeiffer. “It costs much more for them to get their rehabilitation started in hospitals. Moving towards tele-rehabilitation is also much better for the patients.” China, which similarly faces barriers of distance and disparity of access, is widely using telehealth practice, and gave the green light to the development of ‘internet hospitals’ in April 2018. Coviu’s software applies computer vision and machine learning to a recorded video of patient movement. The AI then calculates the degree of movement the patient is capable of and provides a downloadable report for clinicians. “Knee surgery patients need to have at least an improvement of two degrees every week to have progress in their recovery,” says Pfeiffer. “If they don’t have that progress, there’s a chance that the knee might lock up and they might need to go back for another surgery. “With a program like the PhysioROM, you can make sure that the clinician tracks that progress correctly and addresses any issues early.” The CRC-P format is a good fit for taking the technology to the next stage, says Pfeiffer, with industry partners that include physiotherapists, ensuring they can immediately take it up for their service delivery. “Having CSIRO in that program is also good for us, because we can get CSIRO to improve the speed of the algorithm, so it becomes absolutely real-time rather than near real-time, and the machine learning is done the right way.”
Google’s parent company Alphabet. “It is not that machines are going to replace chemists,” Derek Lowe, Director in Chemical Biology Therapeutics at Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research told The New York Times. “It’s that the chemists who use machines will replace those that don’t.” Most of the CRC-Ps funded in the 2018–2019 budget are operating in health and medicine. Apart from Coviu, there is $3 million going towards more precise surgery for solid cancer tumours, and another $2.1 million to using AI to detect and highlight aneurysms on brain scans. Other CRC-P medical research partnerships are focused on the Internet of Things. Brisbane based start-up and intelligent medical device designers M3DICINE have developed Stethee, a digital stethoscope that captures heart, lung and other body sounds with improved clarity and depth of sound. AI algorithms will enable new diagnostic capabilities for Stethee, which has been approved by the FDA in the US. Other wearable tech is being developed to encourage people to make better lifestyle choices. The UNSW is partnered in a $2.1 million project with Melbourne based company Nutromics, which combines medical grade sensor technology with data science and health care. The partnership aims to develop a digitally enabled wearable device, that along with a deep learning behaviour change engine, learns from patients’ behaviour and creates a positive feedback loop to prevent the development of Type 2 diabetes.
In the agriculture sector, Australian remote sensing and crop health software startup FluroSat is leading a consortium of partners that includes the CSIRO, powerhouse farm data software services PCT AgCloud and Agworld, and giant member organisation AgLink, in a $6.6 million CRC-P. It’s the first CRC-P to be awarded in the agricultural sector, where Australia faces tough conditions as drought, global climate change, natural climate variability and changing markets creates stressors on this $60 billion sector.
In November 2018, scientists flew in to Mexico for a community-wide, worldwide experiment to predict protein folding; The Critical Assessment of Structure Prediction. Protein folding is a key element in understanding how to better bind molecules to cells, enabling targeted drug delivery. Think personalised cancer vaccines, or new ways to combat neurodegenerative diseases. In 2018, the prize was won not by a dedicated team of medical researchers, but by Deep Mind, the AI lab owned by
Transforming joint surgery rehabilitation with AI in telehealth
Coviu Global Pty Ltd, CSIRO, University of Western Australia, The Trustee for the HFRC Trust
Use of narrow AI to detect brain aneurysms
Fujitsu Australia Ltd, GE Healthcare Australia Pty Ltd, Macquarie University, Macquarie Medical Imaging Pty Ltd
Advanced real-time medical diagnostics using AI and an IoT medical device
M3dicine Holdings Pty Ltd, QUT, The Trustee for the Amanashab Trust
AI system for rapid diagnostics of disease causing mites and insects
Jasgo R&D Pty Ltd, UNSW, Amalgamated Holdings Ltd , Blue Ocean Equities Pty Ltd
‘Having a big customer like AgLink as part of the grant really drives this innovation forward. Agriculture is a money driven machine and ag-tech needs to be optimised for triple bottom line.’
Producers need to make the most of their yields in a competitive global market where growing conditions are often easier. To understand how to best benefit their farm, producers and farm advisors create and analyse thick layers of data from farm operations, tractor data, satellite imagery, and machine operations like spraying and irrigating. This creates a ‘nightmare of tabs in browsers’ for producers, says FluroSat CEO, Anastasia Volkova. Further, different data gathering systems can’t communicate, so intense work needs to go into the analysis. FluroSat’s product, FluroSense, is an engine of analytics that takes this data, homogenises it and runs crop models to analyse the vast data layers, using machine learning tools that can customise these crop models to fit the disparate data across different farms and regions in Australia and around the world. The AI analyses the data to understand current situations on farm, and also makes the tools predictive — helping to flag scenarios like disease outbreaks or water logging before they happen.
“There’s so much variability in soils in Australia — and this sets us up as a consortium for global adoption. It’s like Mars, to some extent; if you can grow crops here, you can grow them anywhere,” says Volkova. The CRC-P is a critical phase in FluroSat’s growth, supporting the validated models and algorithms to be integrated directly into user workflows, gaining further adoption across Australia and globally, she says. “Having a big customer like AgLink on board as part of the grant really drives this innovation forward. Agriculture is a money driven machine and ag-tech needs to be optimised for triple bottom line. User input is at the heart of the development and adoption of the FluroSense technology. “Industry is looking for innovation, and it needs incubation and nurturing. Having predictive analytics working for producers in the background will take time for producers to get used to, but the time for the market to adopt it can be significantly shortened if it’s developed in collaboration with agronomists, as it is in this CRC-P.”
A GLOBAL EVOLUTION There are few industries that will be exempt from the opportunities for change presented
FluroSat leads a CRC-Project in precision agriculture that uses machine learning to understand current on-farm practices, suggest improvements and save costs.
Smart sensor and deep learning behavioural engine for personalised health monitoring elicit the positive lifestyle behaviour changes required to reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes PhysioROM includes AI that calculates the degree of movement for knee replacement patients.
by AI. CRC-Ps in mining, fin-tech, real estate, retail, fashion, and conservation, are changing the status quo. CRC-P support will help to accelerate the development and commercialisation of an autonomous AI-powered drone to fly underground and map inaccessible areas of Australian mines, while machine learning based data analytics will derive insights from the captured data, increasing safety and productivity for mine workers. In the food manufacturing field, the ‘Almond Analyser’ is using AI to improve the grading of nuts, reducing labour cost and improving productivity. Value Australia CRC-P will support Australia’s $6.8 trillion property market by creating valuation products that provide better information sooner to homebuyers, investors, businesses and governments while reducing costs and risks. Combining research, extensive data assets and AI, this project will deliver secure digital valuation models and tools that cover a broad range of land and property types across Australia and overseas.
WHERE TO NEXT? MIT revealed a project in 2018 that showed their AI literally ‘seeing through walls’ by using heat collection data and translating that into human movement. The AI predicts the skeletal framework of a person based on their heat movement patterns, giving it Superman-like X-ray vision — with obvious implications for policing, security and defence. “There are lots of areas we should be wary about handing over to these machines.
I’ve been a strong proponent of the argument where we should be very careful about how AI is used in warfare,” says Walsh. “We shouldn’t give machines the right to decide who lives and dies. But, equally there are many other life and death decisions with health care that we should be careful about handing over to machines,” he says, citing for example IVF, which can be made more successful by using an AI to select the healthiest embryos for implantation. Meanwhile, at RMIT, associate professor Fabio Zambetta and colleagues are working on one of AI’s limitations — human creativity. They presented research at the 33rd AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence in the United States in early 2019 on training an AI to play the 1980s video game Montezuma’s Revenge. While AI has mastered chess and pinball games, adventure games like Montezuma’s Revenge pose a bigger challenge. “Creating an algorithm that can complete video games may sound trivial, but the fact we’ve designed one that can cope with ambiguity while choosing from an arbitrary number of possible actions is a critical advance,” says Zambetta. “It means that, with time, this technology will be valuable to achieve goals in the real world, whether in self-driving cars or as useful robotic assistants with natural language recognition.” Now to get Siri to proofread this article.
FRONTIERSI.COM.AU WWW.COVIU.COM WWW.FLUROSAT.COM 25
Nutromics Pty Ltd, UNSW, CSIRO, Melbourne Health, Monash University, Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, Procept Pty Ltd, Design & Industry Pty Ltd, Triple Ring Technologies
SECTOR: Food processing
Development of a machine vision system for automated grading of almonds
Surenut Pty Ltd, Laragon Pty Ltd, University of South Australia
Secondary trading of unlisted financial securities with pre-settled smart contracts
Digicash Pty Ltd, Haventec Group Services Pty Ltd, Macquarie University, Capital Markets CRC Ltd, D.T Gilbert & W.R Spain & C.G Condoleon & Others, Marketgrid Systems Pty Ltd, Blackwall Property Funds Ltd, Helmsec Global Capital Ltd
SPECIAL REPORT: FOOD FUTURES
SECURING OUR FOOD FUTURE
This special series includes case studies of best practice initiatives in food production being rolled out by CRCs along with industry, universities, producers and government partners. Growing, processing and distributing food for the world’s next generation will be a mammoth task. Research within Australia’s CRCs during the past 29 years and into the future plays an important role in the future of food in Australia and around the globe. In 2017, around 11 per cent of the world’s population — 821 million people — could not get enough food for a healthy life. To meet future demand, worldwide cereal production must increase by 50 per cent by 2050. Climate variability and extremes harm agricultural productivity and cause shortfalls in food availability. Food supply chains need to be far more robust into the future as climate change becomes more entrenched. Since the Federal Government’s CRC Program was established in 1990, there have been more than 220 CRCs and many have addressed the big issues relating to global food production.
CRCS ADDRESSING FOOD PRODUCTION Soil is the foundation of successful food production. Research efforts by Australia’s largest collaborative soil research initiative — the 10-year, $150 million CRC for High Performance Soils — will contribute greatly to our understanding of soil management, unlocking billions of dollars in lost productivity. A range of CRCs address innovative farming systems and improved crops, from the CRC for Developing Northern Australia to the Food Agility CRC. Previous work by the Future Farm Industries CRC, from 2007–2014, will deliver $1.5 billion in benefits to Australian agriculture to 2034 through new plants and plant varieties, perennial plant farming systems and mallee biofuel development.
The highly successful Plant Biosecurity CRC developed a single test to quickly and accurately detect plant viruses and viroids; investigated vectors for the devastating tomato potato psyllid; and established an online image database of invasive pests and diseases for rapid identification. In collaboration with Huazhong University of Science and Technology, the CRC for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment is helping food producers in China safely turn organic (piggery) waste into a biogas resource, through research to design a more efficient anaerobic digester that works all year round. The Fight Food Waste CRC is developing processes to reduce food waste throughout the supply chain, changing industry and consumer behaviours and turning waste into products — reducing a $20 billion a year cost to Australia’s food systems. The Pork CRC, Poultry CRC and Sheep CRC are transforming Australia’s meat production through a range of innovations outlined in this series.
CROP RELATED CRCS AND FINDINGS Breeding better wheat to resist disease and improve nutrition The CRC for Value Added Wheat (2001–2008)
• Produced WheatRite, a patented method to improve gluten quality. Reducing weed incursions from overseas CRC for Australian Weed Management (2001–2008)
• Developed best-practice biological controls for agricultural weeds such as Paterson’s Curse. • Safely introduced beetles, weevils, moths and rust fungus. Making salt-damaged farmlands productive again The Future Farm Industries CRC (2007–2014)
• Introduced perennials into salt-affected farmlands as feed for sheep and to reduce soil salinity, helping restore thousands of hectares of salt-degraded land in Western Australia.
SPECIAL REPORT: FOOD FUTURES
SOIL: THE ESSENTIAL FACTOR The CRC for High Performance Soil is undertaking Australia’s largest soil research collaboration and utilising technology to improve performance of agricultural land. Infertile and underperforming soils cost farmers and regional communities billions of dollars in lost opportunities in Australia alone. Research by the CRC for High Performance Soils (Soil CRC) aims to address this crisis and is the biggest collaborative soil research effort in Australia’s history. Soil scientist Dr Marcus Hardie, from the University of Tasmania, says the 10-year funding period for the Soil CRC is an important opportunity. “Soil is fundamental to our agricultural systems and there’s so much important research to be done, but because it can be slow to get results, it can be difficult to get funding.” There’s a big range of projects underway, ranging from a spatial knowledge system to visualise and share data about soil, to systems that will recover fertilisers such as nitrogen and phosphorous from organic waste streams.
“The Smart Shovel needs to handle being thrown in the back of a truck, sat on by the dog or left outside in the rain.”
IMPROVING HARDWARE One focus will be on sensor technology, where there’s been little development during the past 20–30 years. Dr Hardie is leading a project to develop the next generation of ‘smart sensors’ that will survive the rigours of the field and transmit data over large areas. Most advances in sensors have been in the algorithms and mapping software that analyses the data, and the communications that sends data via Bluetooth or IoT, rather than the sensors themselves. Dr Hardie says practical aspects of the technology have also been neglected. “There are sensors sitting unused in sheds all over Australia because frustrated growers found their value over time has diminished,” he says. Additionally, thousands of probes are run over by tractors, torn apart by cows or cockatoos, or eaten whole by pigs. “It’s hard putting electronics into a farm environment,” he adds. One of the technology solutions in Dr Hardie’s project, the Smart Shovel, was conceived when he kept hearing that growers had abandoned sensors and returned to the tried-and-true method of putting a shovel into the soil to check its quality. “I realised there’s no point fighting that,” he explains. “Let’s build them a Smart Shovel, which contains sensors to collect data and automatically map it to your iPhone as you dig. Plus, it needs to handle being thrown in the back of a truck, sat on by the dog or left outside in the rain.”
GETTING GROWER FEEDBACK With nine research and farmer group partners across rural and regional Australia, the pilot version of the Smart Shovel currently under development will have a wide audience for prototype testing. “We’re not progressing too far until we listen to the growers, develop what we think they want and take it back to them to check,” says Dr Hardie. “A few rounds of iterative design will help us develop a useful product.” Other field-based sensors under development include below-ground sensor data transmission, which is a system that would allow sensor data to be wirelessly transmitted through soil from buried, low-power sensors to a surface-based receiving device that could attach to a nearby fence post, he says.
SPECIAL REPORT: FOOD FUTURES
NORTHERN AUSTRALIA AND THE FUTURE OF FOODS Research-led development into future cropping prospects in Australia’s far north will help establish a sustainable and healthy industry. Climate change has already altered Australia’s food cropping patterns. Summer rainfall has increased across Australia during the past two decades and with a corresponding decrease in winter rainfall, many rainfall zones have shifted hundreds of kilometres. Australian farmers, supported by industry research, are changing their planting patterns to maximise the reliability and yields for commercial grain crops, but there’s still scope for adaptation. Changing climate presents a challenge and an opportunity. The CRC for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA) will take account of both as it zeroes in on ways for farmers and traditional owners to develop and expand agriculture in the region. This includes the development of new Indigenous agribusiness models to incorporate bush foods and native medicinal plants, and diversifying land use on traditional lands. Projects are planned to create ongoing partnerships between Indigenous enterprises, Indigenous rangers, researchers and established agricultural businesses. These will support traditional Indigenous knowledge with a scientific assessment of ingredients.
REDUCING RISK WITH SCIENCE AND TECH CRCNA chair, agronomist Sheriden Morris, has spent her life in Australia’s
north and says these projects will bring more jobs and business opportunities to people in the region.“I see our future in using technology to drive innovation, turning the ‘frontier mentality’ into entrepreneurial ability,” she says. Morris says investors need confidence knowing agricultural development is low-risk and sustainable in the long-term. “It’s vital we identify areas suitable for development and also highlight areas where there should be no development so we don’t harm the clean, green wild environment of the north.” With a far lower population than other parts of the country, agriculture in northern Australia must rely on technology and infrastructure. “We’ll use sensors, drones and robotics, and much of the development will be on a smaller scale,” says Morris. “For example, instead of building a huge abattoir, we may have smaller, mobile and flexible abattoir services.” Rather than opening up big tracts of land for cattle, better understanding of land use patterns will enable existing agricultural land to be used more effectively. One example is a project exploring cultivation of rice as a ‘break crop’ between cane crops, adding value to the land while also protecting current farmlands from runoff and soil loss, and reducing catchment pollution.
“The Great Barrier Reef catchment already has a lot of agriculture,” says Morris. “We want to know how to make it more efficient and less polluting in the region.” That means having a solid understanding of the function of each catchment and sub-catchment. Key to the process is engagement with landholders and traditional owners, she adds.
NICHE CROP DEVELOPMENT Another CRCNA project will assess opportunities to expand production of lychee, avocado and mango in the north for export to nearby Asian markets. In partnership with several large mango growers, CRCNA will trial intensive mango-growing techniques such as high-density trellis designs, adaptation to robotic harvesters and greater cyclone resilience, potentially improving profit margins by a factor of five. A new blockchain-based technology, involving IoT sensors attached to pallets of fresh-picked mangoes, will also allow transparency from the farm to the consumer, not just validating the origin of the mangoes but also tracking things such as how long since they were picked and if they have been stored at the correct temperature the whole time.
SPECIAL REPORT: FOOD FUTURES
AGILE FOODS AND SUPPLY CHAINS OF THE FUTURE Food Agility CRC is developing digital streamlining to manage Australia’s agrifoods supply chain, protect food provenance and improve operational capacity. Global food systems are under pressure from growing populations, changing consumer preferences, a reduced availability of arable land and the uncertainty of climate change. Food production and processing plays a critical role in Australia’s economy. Food Agility CRC works across the whole food value chain to identify technology that can boost the global competitiveness and sustainability of Australia’s agrifood sector. The sector is a vital one; in 2017–2018, agrifood exports, including meat, wine, dairy, crops, seafood and fibres, were worth $50 billion. Australia’s agricultural supply chain includes food manufacturing and processing, distribution and retail. Direct farm-gate production comprises 2.4 per cent of national GDP. Australia also plays an important role in feeding the world, with 65 per cent of agricultural production exported.
SMARTER SUPPLY Technology solutions that Food Agility CRC will explore include real-time big data market intelligence and predictive analytics to help farmers produce the right products at the right time, and to link food producers with consumers in new ways.
Prof David Lamb says the Food Agility CRC will streamline tech that tracks beef from paddock to plate.
Data-enabled productivity gains will stimulate investment in the food industry and advances in robotics will be leveraged to build a highly productive future workforce. Food Agility CRC is funded for $150 million over 10 years, with contributions from more than 50 partners, including eight Australian universities. Chief scientist, Professor David Lamb, says Food Agility CRC aims to identify effective digital agrifood processes and technology, ignoring hype to focus on meaningful engagement.
PLATE TO PADDOCK The CRC operates around three pillars: data sources (from farms, processing lines and consumer interactions), data analytics (converting data into information) and systems (deploying data to maximise capacity, training, improve provenance and markets). Lamb says three university partners are ‘heavy hitters’ in technology: QUT, RMIT and UTS, while the five other regional universities — James Cook, Charles Sturt, New England, Federation and Curtin — bring expertise in rural and regional food production and markets. “Data is the blood that flows through the agrifood system,” says Lamb. “It’s going to be the basis of things we
do in paddocks and sheds. It’s also how we’ll collect feedback from our consumers, and how we’ll track our food miles and efficiency. “But the real challenges for agrifoods in a data future is around the data-to-human interaction. We are getting better at paddock to plate; now we need to understand plate to paddock so we close the feedback loop.”
FIGHTING FRAUD An important project is Blockchain in Beef Exports, which tracks meat along the supply line, securing its provenance and enforcing food safety. ‘Food fraud’ costs an estimated $40–50 billion a year globally and Australian beef, with a strong reputation for quality, safety, animal welfare and environmental management, is increasingly targeted. The two-year Blockchain in Beef Exports project will use IoT technology and smart contracts to wipe out food fraud and raise safety compliance. “Once we build the tools and systems to track your food from paddock to plate — and also from plate to paddock because consumers are the ultimate arbiters of quality — we can focus on improving our responsiveness, our sustainability and our profitability.”
SPECIAL REPORT: FOOD FUTURES
HOW CRCS HAVE TRANSFORMED LIVESTOCK FARMING
Livestock farming in Australia — including cattle, sheep, poultry, pork and seafood — has been beefed up by a range of CRCs turning research into best-practice farming. Total meat production worldwide has increased with global population growth, but per capita annual meat consumption has also more than doubled during the past 50 years, from an average of 20kg per person worldwide in 1961 to around 43kg per person in 2014. Australia’s production of meat, poultry, seafood and dairy makes up a significant part of our economy, with livestock production comprising more than half of the national agricultural industry. Animal farming in Australia is also a key contributor to global food stocks. Australia is the world’s largest exporter of sheepmeat and the third largest beef and veal exporter after India and Brazil. CRC research plays a major role in improving our livestock industries.
SHEEP Genomics research by the CRC for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC) has delivered a $121 million boost to the industry through programs such as RamSelect, which began as a training program in sheep genetics and evolved into a flock breeding advisory app.
Another Sheep CRC innovation is the objective measurement of meat eating quality through tools such as DEXA, which allows abattoirs to accurately measure carcase lean meat yield at line speed.
PORK Australia’s pork industry has benefited from a range of innovations from the CRC for High Integrity Australian Pork (Pork CRC). These include enhancing contentment of sows housed in conventional farrowing systems; developing a swine dysentery vaccine with global applicability; establishing an eating quality model for Australian pork; and improved data relating to grain and protein meals for pigs. The Pork CRC has also significantly reduced the sector’s greenhouse gas emissions through biogas capture from piggery effluent.
DAIRY Australia’s dairy industry is in the top six of the world’s suppliers. The Dairy Futures CRC, which wound up its six-year term in 2016, delivered genetic improvements worth an estimated $100 per cow per year, allowing farmers to
select for factors such as milk production, feed conversion efficiency, reproductive performance and heat tolerance. The Dairy Futures CRC also delivered genetic improvements to make dairy cattle ryegrass pastures safer, more nutritious, more persistent and higher yielding.
POULTRY Chicken is Australia’s most consumed meat, and chicken eggs form a staple in many diets. Around 45 per cent of egg-laying chickens are free-range and around 20 per cent of meat chickens are free-range. More than 65 per cent of meat chickens are RSPCA approved. The Poultry CRC finished in 2017 after introducing improvements in Australia’s chicken meat and egg production sectors. These included reduced reliance on antibiotics by controlling chickens’ diets after hatching to include native plant extracts; and an approach to immunise chickens from certain diseases through vaccines delivered in food and water.
SHEEPCRC.ORG.AU PORKCRC.COM.AU CRCA.ASN.AU
KNOWHOW + CRCLCL
Making warm cities more liveable Encouraging best practice in building our cities will help us adapt to the uncomfortable impacts of a warming climate, says Rebecca Blackburn.
UMMERS ARE GETTING HOTTER every year and many Australians are sweltering in poorly constructed homes, in which exorbitant energy consumption leads to huge bills and blackouts thanks to an overloaded electricity system. The Low Carbon Living CRC (CRCLCL) is championing buildings that will withstand the ravages of harsh climates. During the past seven years, the CRC has been researching barriers to a low carbon future which, according to a recent PwC Australia report, will exceed its estimated direct economic benefit to the Australian economy of $684 million by 2027. “We aimed to save 10 megatonnes of CO2 emissions cumulatively by 2020, but we will have exceeded that target by next year,” says Scientia Professor Deo Prasad AO, CEO of the CRCLCL. By focusing on how research is adopted into policy, as well as conducting basic research, the CRC has managed to achieve real change — most notably, updating the National Construction Code. “Traditionally, the National Construction Code has eliminated worst practice,” says Prasad. “We want to move from this to encouraging best practice.” Even small changes to building regulations could result in significant improvement in energy performance, according to the report, Built to Perform: An Industry Led Pathway to a Zero Carbon Ready Building Code, prepared by the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) and ClimateWorks Australia, and funded by the CRCLCL. The report found that households could save $900 a year if new homes were built to better standards. Some changes, such as choosing a dark coloured roof instead of a light one, cost nothing, while others, such as improved insulation, will increase building costs in the short term, but result in massive savings in energy bills over the long term. “Stronger energy standards for new buildings could reduce energy bills by
The Bowden low carbon development is one of the CRCLCL’s living laboratory research projects in Adelaide.
“The Low Carbon Living CRC will have saved more than 10 megatonnes of CO2 emissions by 2020.” up to $29 billion between now and 2050,” says Prasad. This research has provided the solid evidence required for regulatory change and has helped to inform the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), the peak intergovernmental forum in Australia, says ASBEC executive director Suzanne Toumbourou. “There is now a COAG-level commitment to a trajectory for low energy and carbon buildings,” she says. Prasad says providing this level of certainty can help the construction industry to prepare itself for future changes. However, just ensuring buildings are energy efficient isn’t sufficient to make cities more comfortable as climate change pushes temperatures higher. The way we plan and design cities can also impact 31
temperatures, thanks to the ‘urban heat island’ effect. Prasad says cities can be made cooler by using vegetation, landscape materials, water bodies and cool materials. To find out which approaches are most cost effective, the CRCLCL developed Australia’s first Guide to Urban Cooling Strategies. This 2017 report is now guiding the redevelopment of the Parramatta CBD in Western Sydney, where temperatures can be six to 10 degrees Celsius hotter than coastal areas. “In the future, we will need a more holistic look at cities, not only at sustainability and low carbon, but also how we can build resilience over the long term,” says Prasad.
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$AVING THE PATIENT
CRCs are developing improved tech and systems to help Australians get the most from their health care — saving millions of dollars in the process, writes Bianca Nogrady.
T’S AN EXCITING ERA FOR MEDICAL INNOVATION. Immunotherapy and cellular therapies are revolutionising cancer treatment; personalised medicine is tailoring therapies to the individual patient genome; the advent of proteomics and metabolomics is giving researchers access to the inner workings of cells; and artificial intelligence is promising transformations in everything from imaging to drug design. For every story about an exciting new drug or high-tech device that could save lives, but comes with a hefty price tag, there are countless, equally important stories about research, interventions and innovations that improve the health of Australians while also improving the health of the medical system’s bottom line. Whether it’s a dental product that can help remineralise teeth and reduce the risk of tooth decay; special lenses that can slow the development of myopia; or an app to reduce waiting times at public hospitals, CRC research has delivered significant innovations with the potential to make the Australian health system not only better, but more efficient, more effective and cheaper.
Research and Workforce Capacity at the CRC and professor of e-health at the University of Sydney. These programs relate to managing chronic disease and empowering consumers; improving decision support using data and AI; and making health data accessible and transparent to improve choice and performance. The CRC also has dedicated flagship programs in aged care, rehabilitation and rural and remote care. Shaw says digital health needs to be looked at holistically. “We’re in this major transition from paper-based to digital-based health, which includes medical records, but I don’t think health has made the flip to being a digital business yet. We still have some major inefficiencies and gaps in health. Even though we’re going to digital, we still don’t share records between primary and acute care. We don’t even share records effectively between our local health districts.” For example, being able to map resource flows — such as beds, medicines, consumables and blood — in real time is one way to improve efficiency of the business of health, says Shaw. “Then you can actually start to apply the kind of efficiency analytics that manufacturing and other industries applied years ago.”
DIGITAL REVOLUTION The digital revolution offers enormous potential to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the healthcare industry. So much so, an entire CRC is dedicated to investigating that potential. With a growing and ageing population, and health expenditure outstripping inflation, the Digital Health CRC’s aims include using data to improve the efficiency of the health system, investigating how technology can improve access to care, and how it can increase understanding of health risks to individuals and communities. Its goal is an ambitious one: to save the Australian healthcare system around $1.8 billion. The CRC’s model of digital health is built around a number of flagship programs, says Professor Tim Shaw, director of
DIALING IT IN Telehealth also offers major opportunities for savings both in time — particularly travel time — and money spent on getting patients and medical staff to remote areas. Dr Brendan Joss and colleagues at HFRC — a Western Australian allied health clinic specialising in orthopaedic rehabilitation — are partners in a CRC project that was recently awarded $1.18 million to investigate how telehealth could be used for rehabilitation following knee replacement surgery (see ‘The frontier of AI', p20). Dr Joss says outpatient rehabilitation programs not only enhance and accelerate recovery after surgery, but they help to reduce complications and reduce the likelihood of hospital readmissions.
“Recent research indicates Australia has significantly higher rates of inpatient rehabilitation in private hospitals than in public hospitals, but when you look at outcomes, they are actually no different whether they have inpatient rehabilitation or not,” he says. “So there is a significant amount of money being spent on inpatient rehab that is not translated into a better outcome for these patients.” The joint project between HFRC, telehealth specialists Coviu, CSIRO and the University of Western Australia is looking at how a secure video link can be used for remote physical rehabilitation. The system can operate with any kind of video link — even using a smartphone or laptop camera — and uses an artificial intelligence algorithm to calculate the patient’s range of movement from the visual images in real time. “We can do that at the beginning of our session, and we can do some exercises, then do it again at the end and measure what improvement has been made during treatment and also over the rehabilitation program,” says Dr Joss. “It’s all done quickly, easily and securely, without requiring any special equipment.”
HOME TREATMENT A similar approach was investigated by the Oral Health CRC, which undertook a number of successful trials of ‘teledentistry’. A toothbrush-sized camera and digital video conferencing technology was used to conduct dental exams of individuals living in remote areas in Victoria. This approach meant 57 per cent of patients in the trial were able to avoid a trip to Melbourne to visit a dental clinic. It’s a treatment modality that also has potential for use in nursing homes, where residents often miss out on adequate dental care.
“With digital health, we can start to look at people holistically, at the information around them, and start to really change their health trajectories.” KNOWHOW MAGAZINE
The HFRC health clinic in WA has partnered with the Digital Health CRC to test telehealth for patient rehabilitation.
Wound care is another form of treatment benefiting from the telehealth approach. There is much potential for savings in this area, as wound healing and management is estimated to cost the Australian healthcare system around $2.85 billion per year. The Wound Innovations clinic — which was established from the Wound Management Innovation Cooperative Research Centre — offers a telehealth service where a patient can have a video-link consultation with a wound expert, in the company of their own clinician, using high-resolution photos of the wound to monitor healing.
Shaw acknowledges there is anxiety around this level of data collection, particularly in light of the Federal Government’s issues with the electronic My Health Record. But he argues that if it is done right, it could make a major difference to the health of the population, and to the health system itself. He is also interested in how digital health could challenge what he describes as an often paternalistic, hospital-driven, fee-for-service model of health in Australia. “Digital health can support that because we can start to look at people holistically, at the information around them and start to really change their health trajectories.”
THE ADVANTAGE OF DATA Health-related consumer apps and devices may be widespread, but Shaw says most aren’t being used to their full potential, or even at all. One benefit this domain can offer is the possibility of early detection of chronic disease by accumulating data on people throughout the course of their life — not only data on health, but also on the social determinants of health, such as where someone lives and what is in their local environment. “The problem at the moment is we tend to only cluster data around us when we have an event,” says Shaw. But by making use of data from health apps, devices and even social media, that information could possibly be collected and applied for health prevention. “We can start to say, with this group of people, if we intervene in this way we can stop them having cardiovascular disease later in life. The promise is there, but the challenge we have is we don’t have those large linked data sets.”
Photo: James Henry Photography
Photo: Dr Brendan Joss
Lowitja Institute CEO Romlie Mokak is striving for better health outcomes for Indigenous people.
INDIGENOUS OUTCOMES Another CRC is also challenging the current healthcare paradigm, with an acute awareness of how frequently the system fails to meet the needs of Australia’s First Peoples. The Lowitja Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health CRC was established in July 2014, taking up the baton from previous CRCs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health. “The focus on our work is to reform the research agenda as well as processes around how research is done and delivered for the benefit of our people,” says Lowitja Institute CEO Romlie Mokak, a Djugun man and a member of the Yawuru people. “We want our people to be better; we want to try to keep people in their communities and on their country for as long as possible.” There are a number of areas where the current healthcare system could be improved to ensure the health and wellbeing needs of Indigenous Australians are met. The overarching theme 34
Professor Tim Shaw, from the Digital Health CRC, is working on projects using technology to improve patient access to health care.
“It’s about mapping the patient journey from, say, a remote community in Central Australia to a major tertiary hospital in Adelaide, and placing the patient and family and their culture at the centre of that journey.” Economics estimates the total cost of inadequate sleep in Australia is $66.3 billion per year, which makes addressing poor sleep a major health priority. The Alertness CRC was established with the aim of maximising alertness in the workplace. One such work environment is hospitals. In 2017, the CRC commenced a trial of a body-clock rostering system that used the latest research on sleep and circadian rhythms to create a staff shift-work roster designed to reduce fatigue among medical personnel. In the UK, a rollout of sleep-related guidelines to tackle this issue is associated with a 30 per cent reduction in medical error rates. But the benefits can extend to any job involving shift work, where fatigue is more than a simple annoyance. “Everyone knows the effect of having one night of bad sleep, and the impact that has on your wellbeing, productivity and ability to engage fully at work,” says Professor Doug McEvoy, Alertness CRC Theme Leader. There are also longer-term health consequences for people with chronic sleep loss or sleep disorders, particularly those who already have other chronic health conditions such as heart disease or diabetes. The Alertness CRC has led several projects to help individuals work out how best to improve their sleep. “Through the CRC, we are developing easily accessible tools to help consumers better understand and manage their sleep,” says McEvoy. “We often take an individualised approach to ensure users receive personalised, clinically driven solutions that are specifically relevant to them.” McEvoy sees this as an example of how digital and consumer-focused approaches can improve health. “It saves dollars but also dramatically extends the reach of services and improves the access for people in the community to finding a solution to their health problem,” he says.
is an urgent need for healthcare delivery that is focused on the patient, family and community. For example, one research program at the Lowitja Institute looked at the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people travelling to the city for healthcare in South Australia and the Northern Territory. “It’s about mapping the patient journey from, say, a remote community in Central Australia to a major tertiary hospital in Adelaide, and placing the patient and family and their culture at the centre of that journey,” says Mokak. “If we take a patientcentred approach, it should be about the safe passage of that person through the entire system, to surgery and back.” Unfortunately, when the patient is not placed at the centre of the care paradigm, there are so many ways things can, and do, go wrong. “For example, people being dropped off at a remote airstrip with no transport to take them to their outstation,” says Mokak. “Failures often occur when the system is privileged, not the person.” One research project was able to identify some of the critical gaps where patients were falling through the cracks, and as a result it was able to contribute to better outcomes including: reduced average length of hospital stay, improved engagement and communication between patients and providers, improved patient satisfaction, and a reduction in admissions and incomplete treatments.
LOWITJA.ORG.AU DIGITALHEALTHCRC.COM ALERTNESSCRC.COM WOUNDINNOVATIONS.COM.AU ORALHEALTHCRC.ORG.AU
SLEEP SOLUTIONS Tiredness doesn’t immediately leap to mind as a health issue in Australia. However, a 2018 report by Deloitte Access
A new direction for boards Board recruitment by established companies has been slow to adapt to the challenges of AI, automation and the changing workforce, says Women on Boards Chair Ruth Medd.
Established companies need to respond to disruption.
STEM skills are recognised as vital to the knowledge economy and will become even more valuable to the digital age as it evolves because of the uptake in artificial intelligence (AI) technologies. Sensationalist media suggest a large number of jobs will disappear as AI ‘takes over’. This is far from the case, and the McKinsey Global Institute report, Jobs lost, jobs gained: Workforce transitions in a time of automation, from December 2017, is an excellent reference. Some parts of jobs are clearly susceptible to automation. But on the other side of the ledger, the digital economy is rapidly creating jobs in data analytics, algorithm design and testing, and, perhaps biggest of all, in privacy, risk management, compliance and monitoring. Women on Boards (WOB) specialises in encouraging and assisting women to take on board roles. Part of what we do involves keeping a watch on changing trends in director appointment. Boards have been relatively slow to apply modern, skills-based recruitment approaches. They are moving from ‘who do we know’ in our network, to a skills and capabilities approach — but this is taking time. At WOB, we have seen the gradual realisation among boards that their board members need contemporary skills. As an exercise, look at the CVs of board members of recently listed, digitally enabled companies to get a feel for this — it is partly because a large number of new companies are disruptors.
Some of the common business models are: ● Variants of the well-established sharing economy; ● Specialised recruitment businesses which focus on hard-to-find segments, such as part-time professionals or people willing to job share; ● A myriad of sliced-and-diced fintech business models for property, loans, payments and retail insurance. These businesses aim for scale and better ways of delineating consumers. Some succeed, but most don’t as they fail to access customers and capital. Or, someone comes along who is more fleet of foot. There is no shortage of great ideas. Established companies need to respond to disruption. Do they understand it? Do they fear company revenue will be cannibalised if they act? They require a modern director who can contribute to board thinking as a company faces disruption. What might this director look like? Perhaps the person will come with innovation expertise, successful start-up expertise or a deep understanding of innovation building blocks, which requires an appreciation of the innovation pipeline of projects with agile project management and well-disciplined stop points. The challenge for any aspiring director is to persuade a chair that you can add value. But clearly there is room on a board for a director with STEM skills.
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THE UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE
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Research is about making a difference. At Deakin, we’re tackling global challenges head on and striving to make meaningful impact. Are you ready for what’s next? deakin.edu.au
The University of Melbourne would like to thank its partners in industry who contribute immensely to the richness of our research enterprise and our ability to make a positive impact on the world. pursuit.unimelb.edu.au
RMIT University is a global university of technology, design and enterprise. We focus on applied research and put industry needs first to create impact. As one of the most active universities in the CRC program, we value collaboration and strive to innovate. rmit.edu.au/ researchpartnerships
At Monash University, we believe great research can lead to lasting and positive change in people’s lives. That’s why we partner with industry, to ensure the impact is felt around the globe. monash.edu/research
Campus Travel is the only Australian travel provider solely dedicated to academic travellers. Our specialists offer a complete travel service for flights, accommodation, ground transport, group travel and organisational travel program management. campustravel.com.au
University of Canberra has a collaborative, innovative and dynamic research culture which is dedicated to delivering high quality, high impact research that provides distinctive solutions to issues facing our community and society. canberra.edu.au/research
The Low Carbon Living CRC is Australia’s only research and innovation hub dedicated to driving the nation’s built environment sector towards a globally competitive low-carbon future. The CRC is on track to deliver a cumulative reduction in carbon emissions of 10 megatonnes by 2020. lowcarbonlivingcrc.com.au
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NEXT BIG THING
Innovation, perspiration and consultation Tony Peacock, CEO CRC Association Planning is a critical phase of innovation and it requires both a human and technical approach.
“If we ignore ‘soft’ sciences, we are just as royally stuffed as if we bet against one of Newton’s laws.” KNOWHOW MAGAZINE
Some vital contributions to successful innovation might be quite small; they might even be deemed mundane or boring. But that doesn’t diminish their importance. These contributions usually fall into Thomas Edison’s ‘99 per cent perspiration’ category of genius, whereas the one per cent inspiration bit gets the recognition. Perhaps it’s because the perspiration part doesn’t get the fanfare it deserves that innovation can be overlooked during planning. In planning workshops, I spend a lot of time getting participants to think of those future ‘head slapping’ moments that need to be avoided. These often relate to systems and policies — “of course, no-one can use it until it’s in the building code” or “of course, once the Council of Australian Governments has agreed, we can adopt it.” These statements of the obvious don’t seem so obvious when R&D is initially planned. Nevertheless, they are invariably preceded by the phrase “of course” when they come up. Now with 30 years of hindsight, I see the massive blind spot technical people have when it comes to so-called “softer” sciences. I don’t know the origin of calling them soft sciences; if we ignore them, we are just as royally stuffed as if we bet against one of Newton’s laws. 38
Billions of dollars of applied science funding have failed to meet their promise because the social or human aspects of the research were ignored or downplayed. “If you build it, they will come” may have worked for Kevin Costner in his film, Field of Dreams, but it hasn’t worked so well for a lot of genetic modification research or certain methods of food production — or, arguably, nuclear power. Assuming that public attitudes, economics and the law will eventually catch up to the science is just asking to be proved wrong. We technical people are getting better. We’ve started to invite a soft scientist or two to planning meetings. But building our machines and funding our experiments is super expensive and obviously needs to be done first. Inevitably, “human factors” will be “program four” (never “program one”), with details to be worked out later, followed by budgeting a bit later than that (“How much money can they need? A few surveys can’t cost much!”) It’s time we started to see the human factor as a front-end consideration — rather than an afterthought tacked on a few steps before the finish line — and gave proper respect to the perspiration needed to get us there.
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