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Know How CRCA.ASN.AU • MAY 2017 • ISSUE 7
Cooperative Research Centres are creating Australia’s most successful partnerships
TAPPING INTO INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE
Delivering best practice research p31
TOMORROW’S GROWTH MARKETS
Disruptive industries making an impact p26
TOP 10 CRC RESEARCH OUTCOMES • FORGING PARTNERSHIPS • INNOVATION REPORT
BY THE NUMBERS
Creating value that lasts $15m
THE FUNDING INVESTED BY THE CAPITAL MARKETS CRC IN THREE START-UP COMPANIES, WHICH BROUGHT TRANSPARENCY (AND ULTIMATELY FAIRNESS AND EFFICIENCY) TO THE MORTGAGE MARKET (DEALMAX.COM.AU); CAFE AND RESTAURANT MARKETS (ORDERMENTUM.COM); AND THE BUILDING MANAGEMENT MARKETPLACE (CIMENVIRO.COM).
THE FIRST YEAR COOPERATIVE RESEARCH CENTRE PROJECTS (CRC-Ps) WERE INTRODUCED, ONE OF THE MOST SIGNIFICANT CHANGES TO THE CRC PROGRAMME IN ITS 27-YEAR HISTORY. CRC-Ps ARE SIMPLE, SHORT DURATION, INDUSTRY-RESEARCH COLLABORATIONS AND HAVE ATTRACTED $51.8 MILLION IN COLLABORATOR INVESTMENT AND $22.6 MILLION IN GOVERNMENT FUNDING.
THE SAVINGS IN MAINS WATER USE IN PROPERTIES AT THE WATER SENSITIVE COMMUNITY OF AQUAREVO IN LYNDHURST, MELBOURNE, COMPARED TO A REGULAR SUBURBAN HOME. THIS IS AN INITIATIVE OF THE CRC FOR WATER SENSITIVE CITIES, WITH SOUTH EAST WATER AND VILLAWOOD PROPERTIES.
THE NUMBER OF GRAZING PROPERTIES, COVERING MORE THAN 60 MILLION HECTARES, WHICH ARE NOW COVERED BY THE NRM SPATIAL HUB (THE HUB), A SATELLITE IMAGING BASED MONITORING SYSTEM. THE SYSTEM CAN DELIVER THE LATEST SATELLITE IMAGERY TO GRAZIERS IN 30 SECONDS THROUGH A SIMPLE APP – A WORLD FIRST. THE HUB, FROM THE CRCSI, HAS DELIVERED 30% IMPROVEMENTS IN PASTURE PRODUCTIVITY.
NEW FAMILIES BENEFITED FROM FURTHER DEVELOPMENT AND COMMERCIALISATION OF THE AUTISM CRC’S SECRET AGENT SOCIETY (SAS) SOCIAL SKILLS TRAINING PROGRAM IN 2016. SOCIAL SKILLS TRAINING PTY LTD IS A WHOLLY OWNED SUBSIDIARY OF AUTISM CRC.
THE NUMBER OF AGENCIES INCLUDING THE COMMONWEALTH, STATES, INDUSTRY GROUPS AND RESEARCH PARTNERS WHO FORM THE PLANT BIOSECURITY CRC, WHICH IS SET TO WIND UP IN 2018. PLANT INDUSTRIES PROVIDE MORE THAN $30 BILLION PER ANNUM TO THE AUSTRALIAN ECONOMY AND MORE THAN $20 BILLION IN EXPORT VALUE.
THE INTO CASH AND IN-KIND CONTRIBUTION LEVERAGES BY THE DET CRC FROM MAJOR MINING COMPANIES. THE CRC’S WORK, NOW ENDED, IS SET TO BE EXTENDED BY A NEW CRC, MINEX, WHICH WILL FURTHER EXPLORE INNOVATIONS IN DEEP EXPLORATION FOR MINERAL RESOURCES IN AUSTRALIA.
The future is innovation
Arthur Sinodinos AO
The record shows that Cooperative Research Centres are a successful way to bring industry and research together.
Collaboration between industry and research is vital. We know that unlocking the commercial value of Australian research will result in world-first, new-to-market innovation and new internationally competitive businesses. Cooperative Research Centres (CRCs) are an excellent, longstanding example of how industry and researchers can work together to create these growth opportunities. The CRC Programme supports industry-led collaborations between researchers, industry and the community. It is a proven model for linking researchers with industry to focus research and development efforts on progress towards commercialisation. Importantly, CRCs also produce graduates with hands-on industry experience to help create a highly skilled workforce. The CRC Programme has been running for more than 25 years and has been extremely successful. Since it began in 1990, more than $4 billion in funding has been committed to support the
establishment of 216 CRCs and 28 CRC Projects. Participants have committed an additional $12.6 billion in cash and in-kind contributions. CRCs have developed important new technologies, products and services to solve industry problems and improve the competitiveness, productivity and sustainability of Australian industries. The programme has produced numerous success stories; far too many for me to mention here. A few examples include the development of dressings to deliver adult stem cells to wounds; creating technology to increase the number of greenfields mineral discoveries; and spearheading a world-leading method for cleaning up the potentially toxic chemicals found in fire-fighting foams. These examples demonstrate not just the breadth of work being done by the CRCs, but also the positive benefits they are delivering. Senator the Hon Arthur Sinodinos AO is the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science in the Australian Government.
13 28 46 Delivered by AusIndustry™
The Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) Programme 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 Programme 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 Programme 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.
Contents FEATURES 17 | Navigating GPS’s future Australian and New Zealand technology is on the cusp of revolutionising geopositioning.
20 | The top 10 Science meets Business innovations
Now in their 27th year, the Cooperate Research Centres are leading innovation outcomes in Australia.
22 | The bigger picture
Growth Centres are drawing together multiple stakeholders to help commercialise research.
26 | The disruptors
Australia’s productivity is poised on a knife edge as traditional boom areas bust. But four new industries are set to take up the strain.
31 | Connecting with the community
Developing research excellence in Indigenous affairs requires a commitment to collaborate with communities at every stage of the research journey.
NEWS 5 | SERC Shining a light on space debris. 6 | CRC-Ps The new business-led funding rounds are winning praise across industry.
COMMENTARY 10 | Review highlights lagging performance
Tim Powell on how more collaboration between business and research can bring new goods and services to market.
34 | The art of collaboration
CRCs are leading the way in introducing PhD students to a career in industry.
Innovation results from building safe spaces for teams to fail, says Sharon Bell.
38 | Collaborate to learn, learn to collaborate
The culture of working together is as important as funding for CRCs, says Tony Peacock.
SPOTLIGHT 11 | Nuclear knowhow to help prevent soil erosion
ANSTO is using nuclear science to understand the rates of soil degradation throughout Asia and the Pacific.
12 | Protecting Australia’s critical infrastructure
The Energy Pipelines CRC is creating innovative solutions to the myriad problems faced by the oil and gas pipeline sector.
13 | Improving alertness and performance in critical environments
8 | CRCLCL Testing zero-energy homes with mainstream consumers.
Alertness CRC is adding IT to neuroscience in a bid to reduce lifethreatening errors by shift workers.
9 | PBCRC Securing Australia’s agricultural future.
14 | Developing sustainable environments in slums
16 | Science meets Parliament Defence CRCs central to Canberra’s $29.9 billion security push.
Cutting-edge water designs created for developed cities can futureproof vulnerable and degraded environments in developing countries. 4
18 | Industry placements pave the way to success
19 | Showcasing early career researchers
These five finalists are attending Collaborate | Innovate | 2017 to give a presentation on their research, with an audience vote determining the winner.
15 | Collaboration the key to future growth
IMCRC is working to create new business models that will help position Australia as a global leader in manufacturing.
30 | Tracking trends from our digital footprints
A revolutionary D2D CRC program has made it possible to predict destabilising events such as social upheaval, political crises, election outcomes and epidemics.
35 | Reaching out to Indigenous families across the world
Lowitja Institute continues to value the health of Australia’s First Peoples through its first international Indigenous health and wellbeing conference, and its groundbreaking collaboration with The Lancet medical journal.
35 | Cleaning up toxic threats
Global contamination ranks with climate change as a danger to the planet, leading CRC CARE to launch its ambitious GlobalCare Initiative to share knowledge and find remedies.
IN THE NEWS
Shining a light on space debris Millions of bits of space junk are currently orbiting Earth, ranging in size from mere millimetres through to discarded, school bus-sized parts of multi-stage rockets, Chloe Walker reports.
Each piece of debris in low earth orbit circles the planet around every 90 minutes, placing $1 trillion worth of space infrastructure at risk of collision and serious damage. In May last year, a window on the International Space Station was chipped by a small piece of space debris believed to be a tiny flake of paint, which highlights the potential for more significant damage. The idea of changing the orbit of debris using the photon pressure from lasers has been around for a while, but the Space Environment Research Centre (SERC) in Canberra is getting close to demonstrating proof of the concept. They plan to launch dummy satellites, each the size of a shoebox, into low orbit (around 570km) and fire at them with ground-based lasers to slow them down. The satellites will be equipped with sensors that can measure the amount of light hitting the target and the changes in orbit achieved with each pass. In theory, this technique could be used to bring objects closer to Earth so that they eventually burn up in the atmosphere. “These are very small forces; you need to know a long way in advance there’s going to be a collision. You can then use the photon
pressure to change the orbit over time,” says Dr Steve Gower, general manager of SERC. SERC plans to launch the first satellite in late 2018 and begin the demonstration phase the following year. The key industry participants on the project are EOS Space Systems and Lockheed Martin, and the project will use all-Australian technology. While this technique lacks the precision required to stop a speeding fleck of paint, it could be effective in manoeuvring objects with a high surface-area-to-mass ratio – think the size and weight of a computer monitor. “We want a large surface area so we can use the maximum amount of particles of light, or photons, hitting the object,” says Gower. This research program applies the knowledge gleaned from SERC’s other programs, which focused on tracking objects and predicting collisions. If successful, the potential for commercialisation includes offering conjunction analysis so satellite owners can move their assets out of the way of approaching debris or remove the offending space junk before a possible collision.
High-power lasers can gently nudge space debris out of the way of an operating satellite. Photo: Lyle Roberts
IN THE NEWS
Fast funding allows industry-research partnerships to race ahead The new, nimble, business-led funding rounds that led to the Cooperative Research Centre Projects (CRC-Ps) are winning praise across industry, government and academia for their fast turnaround time, focus, and appeal to small-to-medium enterprise, Bianca Nogrady reports.
With the second round of successful grants announced in early February 2017, there are now a total of 28 projects granted funds ranging from $425,000 to $3 million through the CRC-P initiative. CRC Association CEO Tony Peacock says the initiative came out of a recommendation made by the Miles Review for “smaller collaborations operating on short project timelines with simpler governance and administration arrangements and less funding”. “I think CRC-Ps will probably become more important to the start-up sector because it is a significant amount of money early in a company’s development,” says Peacock. One such start-up benefiting from CRC-P funding is Solafast who, in partnership with CSIRO and Norwood Industries, received
$1.6 million to help develop building materials that integrate flexible, printed solar films. “The product we’re creating will look much better than standard solar panels on a roof, be quicker and easier to install, and allows for more flexible building design,” says Leesa Blazley, Solafast’s Director of Business Development. The project brings together CSIRO’s expertise in printed solar films, Norwood’s experience in commercial printing, and Solafast’s roll-formed cladding. It is a partnership that is aiming to deliver a proof-of-concept product within two years. “By the end of the project we’ll have a working prototype and be close to scaling up for commercial release,” says Blazley. “Without the funding it would have been very difficult to develop a product that was market ready.”
CSIRO, Norwood Industries and Solafast staff inspect a length of printed solar film. Photo: CSIRO
IN THE NEWS
CSIRO’s Dr Fiona Scholes, who is also working on the Solafast project, says the CRC-P funds are well geared towards the needs of CSIRO’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) industry partners. “What we have found through our interactions with the Australian manufacturing industry is that they’re not short of ideas – they’ve got a real thirst for innovation – but the stumbling block is almost always lacking the funds to make something meaningful happen,” says Scholes, Group Leader in Industrial Innovation at CSIRO Manufacturing. “So having that requirement to have an SME on these projects is accommodating the Australian manufacturing innovation ecosystem in a relevant way.” Another CRC-P is using the funding opportunity to significantly advance an important diagnostic test that could help pick up metastatic cancer a lot earlier than is currently possible. Dr John Deadman, CEO of Chemocopeia, which is leading this CRC-P, says the funding has been essential to moving the diagnostic test from theoretical to practical. “Chemocopeia and the CSIRO had developed an understanding of the biological side of the project, but we didn’t have the expertise around setting up an assay system to clinical standard in an accredited format that would be able to be used rigorously and robustly,” Deadman says. With $582,500 from the CRC-P initiative, they have joined forces with Innoviron and 360biolabs, and are well on their way to developing the diagnostic assay. “At the end of the year we hope to have a reproducible and robust system that we can start to test clinical samples with,” explains Deadman. He also says that the set-up of the CRC-P funding is unique in fostering a greater focus among participants. “What’s good is it’s trying to tackle a specific problem rather than just make a particular stage in a bigger project.”
IN THE PIPELINE THE FIRST ROUND OF CRC-P FUNDING, WHICH WAS ANNOUNCED IN JUNE 2016, FUNDED 11 PROJECTS IN TOTAL: ¢ Integrated driver monitoring solution for heavy vehicles ¢ Hydrocarbon fuel technology for hypersonic air breathing vehicles ¢ Printed solar films for value-added building products for Australia ¢ R&D to accelerate sustainable omega-3 production ¢ Innovative prefabricated building systems ¢ An antibody-based in-vitro diagnostic for metastatic cancer ¢ High-performance optical telemetry system for ocean monitoring ¢ Combined carbon capture from flue gas streams and mineral carbonation ¢ Improving Australia’s radiopharmaceutical development capabilities
¢ Innovation in advanced multi-storey housing manufacture ¢ Future oysters THE SECOND ROUND, ANNOUNCED IN FEBRUARY 2017, FUNDED PROJECTS, INCLUDING: ¢ Large area perovskite photovoltaic material coating on glass substrate ¢ High-power density motors incorporating advanced manufacturing methods ¢ New super high oleic bio-based oil ¢ Manufacturing of high performance building envelope systems ¢ Lightweight automotive carbon fibre seats ¢ Targeting tropomyosin as anti-cancer therapy ¢ Glass technologies and photovoltaics in protected cropping For the full list of projects, visit sciencemeetsbusiness.com.au.
IN THE NEWS
The CRC for Low Carbon Living (CRCLCL) has announced $500,000 in funding for a new national zero-energy homes project. The project will research consumer attitudes and aim to influence the building industry to construct new dwellings to zero-energy standards. At present the energy efficiency of a home is measured according to the Nationwide House Energy Rating System (NatHERS). This star rating system measures the energy required to heat and cool a home, with new buildings being required to meet a minimum six-star rating. Zero-energy homes, on the other hand, are homes that are carbon neutral across the year – they produce as much (or more) energy than they consume. All aspects of energy consumption are accounted for – not just heating and cooling, but also lighting, appliances and so on. Project lead Dr Josh Byrne, senior research fellow with Curtin University’s
Sustainability Policy Institute, believes that the current six-star requirement is merely “eliminating worst practice”. He has built two 10-star rated homes as part of his project, Josh’s House, which was part of the CRCLCL’s Living Labs project near Fremantle in Western Australia. Now he’s keen to bring zero-energy homes into the mainstream. “It’s not just about bunging on more solar panels to offset the power usage, it’s about how the houses can be designed to perform better thermally,” Byrne says. “We know that simple things like orientation, cross-ventilation, and building air tightness can all dramatically reduce the build performance.” The project team will be working with developers and builders from three different climate areas – WA, the ACT and Queensland – to design and build zero-energy display homes and present them alongside conventional homes to gauge the response from consumers. Instead of focusing on the sustainability 8
benefits, they want to see how the public thinks zero-energy homes stack up on liveability. “We’re really interested in seeing how people respond to the look, feel and comfort of the zero-energy homes,” Byrne says. The researchers will then present this data to the regulatory bodies, in the hope that an evidence-based approach will help shift the common perceptions that sustainable building practices are too costly and that there is no market demand for these homes. With 100,000 new homes being built in Australia each year, moving to zero-energy homes would reduce carbon emissions by 700,000 tonnes. California has committed to achieving this by 2020, and members of the European Union are doing the same. Byrne thinks it’s more than possible here. “I would like to see us setting a realistic goal of achieving that within 10 years,” he says.
Photo: Josh’s House/Living Labs
Testing zero-energy homes for liveability and consumer demand
IN THE NEWS
Securing Australia’s agricultural future The Plant Biosecurity CRC has paved the way for a world-class plant biosecurity system based on nationally coordinated, funded and enduring science, reports Bianca Nogrady.
The ever-growing importance of plant biosecurity in Australia can be seen from the gradual evolution of the Cooperative Research Centres dedicated to it. What began as the Tropical Plant Pathology CRC in 1992 morphed into the CRC for Tropical Plant Protection in 1999, then into the CRC for National Plant Biosecurity in 2005 and finally the Plant Biosecurity CRC (PBCRC) in 2012. PBCRC will close in mid2018, having brought together 27 multinational partners across agriculture and the environment, including almost all key biosecurity agencies in Australia as well as industry partners. At the same time, it is laying the foundations to bring 26 years’ of research and development to fruition in the form of a permanent national research agency to support plant biosecurity in Australia. “From our point of view, Australia absolutely needs a strong, national biosecurity research and innovation system,” says current PBCRC CEO Dr Michael Robinson. Hence, PBCRC’s proposed SmartBiosecurity initiative. The SmartBiosecurity proposal outlines a structure that shares responsibility for biosecurity between the Commonwealth and states, but also industry, research organisations and the broader public. “What we’ve proposed looks a bit like a permanent Cooperative Research Centre; all the key biosecurity players are partners in the system,” says Robinson. “The Commonwealth provides the core funding, which is the glue for others like the states, research agencies, and industry bodies to come on board and help fund this national effort.” The importance of such an agency is illustrated by the recent discovery of the tomato potato psyllid (pictured above right) in Western Australia. It is a sap-sucking insect that could potentially cost the horticultural sector millions of dollars. There are already reports that one
producer has had to abandon its export market plan because of the outbreak. PBCRC has been working on the psyllid for some time, and is helping deliver an evidence-based outbreak response; for example, using its research into the ecology of the psyllid, its alternative hosts, and diagnostic methods for the destructive zebra chip disease that can be vectored by the pest. “The work we’re doing covers the whole biosecurity continuum, from reducing the risk of something entering in the first place by better understanding what the risks are and where to target surveillance operations, through to more rapid detection and better responses to the incursions, plus all the market access issues,” Robinson says. “It’s a very broad portfolio that impacts the whole biosecurity space and it goes to the very heart of Australia’s high-quality produce reputation,” he explains. “Science is the currency of biosecurity and a partnership approach is critical for agriculture and our environment.”
Review highlights lagging performance More collaboration between business and research institutions is required to bring new goods and services to market, Tim Powell reports.
In early February, Innovation and Science Australia (ISA) – a statutory board tasked with providing whole-of-government advice on all innovation, science and research matters – released the Performance Review of the Australian Innovation, Science and Research System 2016 (the ISR System Review). The review’s findings demonstrate that, while the Australian ISR system has its strong points, we are lagging well behind comparable countries and without concerted action we are bound to fall farther behind. Our innovation performance is determined by three key activities: how well we create knowledge; how well we transfer that knowledge to different parts of the system; and how well our businesses apply knowledge in developing new goods and services and bringing them to market. The assessment of these key activities, as compared to similar and competitor nations, is summarised in a novel “performance scorecard”. This scorecard, which includes 20 relevant metrics, will allow ISA to track the ISR system’s performance into the future. Creating knowledge is, as expected, a point of strength. In both our number of researchers per capita and the proportion of highly cited publications produced, we sit in the top 10 internationally. However, the scorecard also confirms our relatively poor performance in the transfer and application of our knowledge creation into new products and services. This is partially explained by our low rates of collaboration and mobility among research institutions and businesses. In the proportion of researchers employed by businesses we came in at 28 out of 36 comparable countries. Perhaps of most concern is that out of OECD countries we 10
came in last for collaboration between business and research institutions. Collaboration, of course, is essential for the exchange of ideas, sparking creative insight and driving innovation activity. While the ISR System Review contains no recommendations, it is now the ISA’s task to prepare a strategic plan for the Australian innovation, science and research system to 2030. This plan will be delivered to government later this year following consultation with stakeholders. Throughout the plan’s development, ISA will seek to draw upon stakeholder expertise in addressing key questions, such as: l How can we bring more firms, in more sectors, closer to the innovation frontier? l How can government become more innovative? l What does an innovative Australian workforce capable of meeting future challenges look like and how can it best be built? l How can we ensure Australian innovative businesses are seamlessly connected to international value chains and flows of knowledge, capital and talent? The 2030 strategic plan offers a chance to outline a broad vision for Australia’s medium and long term, without sacrificing the ability to make recommendations to government for adjustments to the ISR system that are needed now. This will be a challenging piece of work that promises to deliver real value for the ISR system. The Cooperative Research Centres Association is a powerful voice for the interests of the sector and ISA look forward to drawing upon the association’s expertise.
KNOWHOW + ANSTO
Nuclear knowhow provides insight to preventing soil erosion ANSTO is using nuclear science in a bid to understand the causes and rates of soil degradation throughout Asia and the Pacific, Laura Boness reports.
ANSTO researchers Daniela Fierro (left) and Dr Krystyna Saunders sampling a soil profile at a vineyard near Mudgee, NSW. Photo: H.Heijnis, ANSTO
Scientists from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) and Macquarie University have combined their respective backgrounds in nuclear science and geomorphology to determine rates of soil erosion across catchments in Asia and the Pacific. The study, using fallout radionuclides, is part of a technical cooperation project under the Regional Cooperative Agreement for Asia and the Pacific, funded by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Soil erosion reduces land productivity and degrades soil, and can be caused by poor agricultural practices. Understanding the causes and rates of soil erosion is essential for maintaining productive agricultural landscapes, food security and the surrounding environment. “Nuclear techniques give us an opportunity to look at the longer term patterns of soil erosion and deposition through strategic sampling and analysis,” says Dr Tim Ralph, senior lecturer at Macquarie University’s Department of Environmental Sciences. “Instead of monitoring soil erosion for many years, selective samples can be used to interpret the pattern of erosion over the past 10 or 20 years, or longer.” The soil samples were analysed by ANSTO scientists for radioactive isotopes, such as
naturally occurring Lead 210 (210Pb). “Within your soil profile, you can also see high levels of 210Pb in the top of your profile, and then the deeper you go, the more it has decayed away,” says Professor Henk Heijnis, senior principal research scientist and leader of environmental research within the Nuclear Science and Technology cluster at ANSTO. “If you have soil erosion, you don’t see that decay of 210Pb with the profile. You might see very low values right at the top; that means the top has disappeared and nothing is accumulating at that time,” explains Heijnis. Samples were also analysed for compound specific stable isotopes of carbon, oxygen and nitrogen, which are produced by various crops in different amounts. These elements accumulate in deposition sites at the bottom of a catchment and can help determine, particularly across larger catchment areas, which crops are contributing to erosion. “The analysis at the deposition site for compound-specific stable isotopes will give you a list of crops and land uses,” Heijnis says. “The relative abundance of these compounds will tell you the contribution of each of the types of land use and crops.” Understanding the causes and rates of erosion and which agricultural practices are contributing to erosion will inform steps to mitigate the effects of these practices, such as terracing slopes or planting crops that can assist in soil stability. “One of the big things this project did was to build a regional database of soil erosion based on these radionuclide techniques, so that we can now get a picture of the extent of erosion throughout Asia and the Pacific,” Ralph explains. Scientists are continuing to construct the database of natural and unnatural erosion rates across different catchments. Ralph says the data to date shows that erosion rates were hugely variable between countries and even between different land uses within a single catchment. There are plans for a future project to look at soil and water quality and soil structure, which would further add to the erosion database.
KNOWHOW + EPCRC
Delivering expertise for Australia’s critical infrastructure The Energy Pipelines CRC is combining science and real-life experience to create innovative solutions to the myriad problems faced by the oil and gas pipeline sector, Penny Pryor reports.
Pipelines are not something at the front of everybody’s mind, but the crucial piping infrastructure that invisibly links our national, regional and city areas is an integral part of the energy industry and a key focus of the Energy Pipelines Cooperative Research Centre (EPCRC). A return in excess of $4.50 for every dollar the EPCRC spends is a tangible measure of the success of this well-established CRC. Now in its seventh year, the EPCRC is currently working on four key program areas: more efficient use of materials; life extension of new and existing pipelines; advanced design and construction; and public safety and security of supply. “The suite of topics is quite broad. We cover projects from basic materials research, and welding, corrosion and crack management, through to age maintenance, quality of coatings of pipelines, and cathodic protection [a mechanism used to reduce and prevent corrosion]. And how you do that is a mixture of both science and real-world experience,” says EPCRC CEO David Norman. “What we have set up to deliver is an agenda of applied research driven by industry needs.” The National Facility for Pipeline Coating Assessment (NFPCA) is a perfect example of how the EPCRC works via research to assist industry. An initiative of the CRC, the NFPCA is an independent facility established to perform oil and gas pipeline coating testing services. “One of the things that industry needed was an ability to test coatings and one of the things we’ve been able to do is to satisfy that local need,” Norman says. Prior to the establishment of the NFPCA, companies had to send coatings overseas to have them assessed. Now samples can be sent 12
to Victoria to be tested, saving shipping costs and wait times, as well as growing local industry. The EPCRC is now planning its next 10 years and is looking at how it can continue to add value to industry and the nation through its research projects. The organisation is also reaching out to the broader industry to identify the new challenges for which targeted research can assist with solutions through to 2030. “By pooling our resources more widely across a whole industry, we have achieved things that never would have occurred if left to just one or two companies,” Norman explains. “The CRC Programme is an excellent mechanism to bring together groups to tackle challenges and deliver solutions,” he adds. The three key themes developing for the future are: life cycle management of pipelines, including research to better optimise how pipelines are designed and built, operated and decommissioned; security of supply with regards to urbanisation, public safety, and management by planning authorities; and future fluids and pipeline opportunities in the future energy transition. As the world moves to lower carbon and potentially zero emissions, pipelines will have a critical role through their use for services other than for what they were originally designed – such as the role of storing gas in pipes rather than just transportation. “We’ve been able to demonstrate that we provide in dollar terms in excess of what the average CRC provides for every dollar invested,” Norman says. “We are excited for what the future holds as we continue to work closely with industry.”
KNOWHOW + ALERTNESS CRC
Improving alertness and performance in critical environments Who would seek treatment from a drunk doctor? Nobody, and nor would any health professional want to work under the influence of alcohol. But a “sleepy brain” is a lot like a “drunk brain” – affecting reaction time, memory, performance and judgement – yet doctors, nurses and many other workers can have schedules that lead to high levels of sleepiness. It’s a big risk for industry, and for the community. The Australian Medical Association has previously recognised that “fatigue can impair judgement and work performance, and potentially affect patient care and the wellbeing of doctors”.
“These schedules have developed over the past century without thinking much about the role of sleep,” says Professor Steven Lockley, who leads the Safety and Productivity Improvements Program at the Cooperative Research Centre for Alertness, Safety and Productivity (Alertness CRC). “And it’s not optimal from a performance and patient safety point of view.” In order to address this unmet need, the Alertness CRC has developed a set of recommendations that includes advice on the maximum number of consecutive shifts, the maximum number of consecutive night shifts, the maximum shift duration and
How to speed up small molecule screening The Australian Cancer Research Foundation (ACRF) Drug Discovery Centre, at Children’s Cancer Institute, is a unique facility dedicated to developing new anti-cancer therapeutics. We offer customised, fee-based services in high throughput and high content small molecule compound screening. Industry and researchers can: access a wide selection of chemical compound libraries, including libraries of novel compounds with broad chemical diversity, FDA-approved drug libraries and boutique libraries such as kinase inhibitors, to search for chemical hits for drug development or use as biological research tools.
interval between shifts and the preferred shift rotation sequences. Rolling out similar recommendations in a UK hospital led to a 30% reduction in medical error rates. Now, the Alertness CRC is combining IT with its knowledge of schedule design. Partnering with Melbourne-based tech company Opturion, the team has integrated the recommendations into state-of-the-art rostering technology, combining logistical planning and workplace sleepiness reduction into a single, cost-effective software tool. This ‘Alert Safe’ scheduling tool has initially been developed for healthcare settings, but will be rolled out across all sectors where shift work is common. A series of ongoing studies will measure the impact of this solution on both workplace performance and cost benefit. “It’s a global issue,” says Opturion CEO Alan Dormer. “There’s no reason this can’t translate to every market across many continents.” – Lauren Martin
The Drug Discovery Centre helps us uncover drug candidates within days – a process that used to take up to five years” – Dr Greg Arndt, Drug Discovery Manager
rapidly screen thousands of candidate compounds using our cutting-edge automated robotic and imaging systems, and sophisticated data analysis software packages. Our state-of-the-art facilities and wealth of expertise have accelerated cancer drug discovery projects in the Cancer Therapeutics CRC (CTx) pipeline, child cancer research and in vitro drug sensitivity testing for personalised medicine. Since the Centre’s first drug screen in 2011, we’ve delivered over 75 screening projects. Is your project next?
Contact Dr Greg Arndt, Drug Discovery Manager, firstname.lastname@example.org or 02 9385 2503
For more information or a video tour, visit: SCIENCEMEETSBUSINESS.COM.AU
www.childrenscancerinstitute.org.au 13 KNOWHOW MAGAZINE
KNOWHOW + CRCWSC
Developing sustainable environments in slums Cutting-edge water designs created for developed cities can futureproof vulnerable and degraded environments in developing countries, Laura Boness reports.
A plan to revitalise 24 urban slums in two cities has received a $38 million grant from the Wellcome Trust and Asian Development Bank. An international research consortium, led by Monash University, will undertake a five-year research project drawing on previous water sensitive city research programs in Australia, China, Singapore and Israel. Cities today are facing many challenges related to liveability and water security, such as water scarcity due to a changing climate, increasing density – making societies more vulnerable to heat, flood conditions and waterway pollution – and water-related energy usage and transport. “A water sensitive city is basically reflecting on the notion of how we can better manage water within a city that is susceptible to all those challenges,” says Professor Tony Wong, CEO of the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities (CRCWSC), which is a member of the consortium. Within a water sensitive city, the technology and urban landscape designs aim to make the city more resilient to droughts, floods and other climatic factors – through the use of green technology embedded in buildings and public spaces, and heat mitigation. Such cities increase water security by improving inhabitants’ access to rainwater and recycled wastewater. Through a co-design process and by empowering members of the community with knowledge to foster their cities, they
evolve towards cities consisting of informed, water sensitive communities. The landscape designs and green technology required vary: the focus in a first-world city, such as Melbourne, is about liveability, water security, equality and heat mitigation. Developing-world cities often have acute problems related to public health, such as faecal contamination of land and waterways due to poor or non-existent sewerage services, and after floods. CRCWSC’s focus has previously been on embedding green technology and landscape design as part of retrofitting developed cities. This has delivered the proof-of-concept of how water sensitive urban design and green technology can create both amenities and attractions. “That proof-of-concept is now being adapted to look at how we would fundamentally improve the environmental quality of developing countries,” says Wong. The project will focus on adopting a water sensitive approach to the revitalisation of 12 slums in Makassar, Indonesia, and another 12 in Suva, Fiji; two cities of different densities and different social and regulatory considerations. “We are looking at a Pacific Island city and an Asian city to demonstrate how the concept of water sensitivity would be adapted to those social institutional conditions, while still able to embed good design and good technology into the solution,” Wong says.
KNOWHOW + IMCRC
Collaboration the key to future growth Conventional wisdom would have us believe that manufacturing in Australia is a dying sector, but David Chuter, CEO of the new Innovative Manufacturing CRC (IMCRC), doesn’t agree. “When you think about growth areas in Australia, manufacturing fits across all of them,” says Chuter. “It’s a bit difficult to describe in its own right because in just about every sector – food, mining, medical technology, pharmaceuticals – manufacturing has a role to play.” Working with industry partners such as the Ai Group and prefabAUS, as well as research organisations including the CSIRO, a raft of Australian universities and international associates, such as the Fraunhofer Institutes, the IMCRC aims to produce industry-led research into areas like additive manufacturing (3D printing), robotics, photonic technology,
virtual reality and bio-compatible materials. Another key focus is creating and improving new business models that will help position Australia as a global leader in manufacturing. The IMCRC has up to $40 million in Commonwealth funding for industry-led research projects, and it will match industry cash contributions dollar for dollar up to $3 million. Applicants need to demonstrate how they intend to plug into the global supply chain, and be willing to collaborate across sectors. “We’re looking for the next role models for our industry,” says Chuter. “For each project we fund, it’s not just one organisation that benefits, but multiple organisations, ideally across multiple sectors or through various levels of the supply chain. We’re looking for that multiplier effect.” – Chloe Walker
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IN THE NEWS
Defence CRCs part of government’s $29.9 billion security push Scientists and policymakers gathered at the 18th Science meets Parliament to discuss one of the biggest changes to CRCs yet, reports Heather Catchpole.
Defence technologies from autonomous systems to cybertechnology and quantum computing will benefit from the $29.9 billion defence funding boost announced by the government in March. Chief Defence Scientist, Dr Alex Zelinsky, spoke at Science meets Parliament (SmP) soon after the announcement of the $730 million Next Generation Technologies Fund. The fund has evolved from the Defence White Paper committing to additional defence funding and will focus on new R&D partnerships and the creation of new technologies. The fund is administered by Defence Science Technologies Group (DST).
“This is one of the areas you don’t want disrupted. If you have unmanned systems you need them to do what Defence wants them to do. That’s not the story with drones today.” Part of the money will go to Defence Cooperative Research Centres (DCRCs), which represent an “important opportunity”, said CRC Association CEO Tony Peacock. The first cab off the rank is the Trusted Autonomous Systems CRC bid, which plays to Australia’s strengths in this area, says Zelinksy. “This is one of the areas you don’t want disrupted,” says Zelinksy. “If you have unmanned systems you need them to do what Defence wants them to do. That’s not the story with drones today.”
The government will be inviting formal applications for DCRCs in 2017. Zelinksy, who will also speak at Collaborate | Innovate | 2017, says science funding must be bipartisan and in the national interest, and CRCs are a proven collaboration program. “Defence and security have complete bipartisan support, we often brief the Opposition with what we are doing. You want to make sure that they support a 50-year program. When it is contested, it is very hard for science to cut through and bring people to the table.” DST is a sponsor of Science meets Parliament and Zelinsky, who has attended for many years, says the event is a unique opportunity to represent science but also find out what drives our national interests. “I can’t think of other professional groupings that come this way to interact with Parliament. “In Canberra we’re quite used to people coming to ask for things – but it’s important to do so with something that is in the national interest. Policy is made by government. Science through its evidence informs policymaking. You have to realise that elective government sets the policy.” The 18th Science meets Parliament, convened in March this year, brought together 200 researchers for a day of professional development before a series of parliamentary meetings and informal networking.
DST.DEFENCE.GOV.AU SCIENCEANDTECHNOLOGY AUSTRALIA.ORG.AU
Navigating GPS’s future Australian and New Zealand knowhow is on the cusp of revolutionising geopositioning, which – in the near future – will be able to get accuracy down to 10cm, reports Rockwell McGellin.
The world’s most accurate GPS service could be on its way to Australia, thanks to collaboration between the Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information (CRCSI), Geoscience Australia and Land Information New Zealand. The pilot project, called a Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS), will improve GPS accuracy from several metres to less than one metre – and potentially down to a few centimetres. “This is the first opportunity we’ve had to test this technology in Australia,” says Dr John Dawson from Geoscience Australia. “It’s also enabling us to test the next generation of this technology, and it really will provide unprecedented positioning accuracy for Australia and New Zealand.” GPS satellites orbit at a constant, relatively well-known height above the Earth. They transmit precise time signals by measuring the
“It will not only assist existing industries, we’re actually hoping it might spawn a whole range of new industries and business opportunities.” difference between those time signals and its own clock, a GPS receiver can figure out how far away the satellites are. With three or more signals from different satellites, the receiver can calculate where it is on the surface of the Earth. But these signals from space aren’t perfect. They are affected by variations in the satellite’s clocks and orbit, and by conditions in the
atmosphere between the satellite and receiver. These error sources mean that the usual accuracy of a position calculated using GPS is five to 10 metres. SBAS will use stationary receivers across the continent to measure these errors, calculate a correction, then broadcast that correction to GPS users using another satellite. With this data, the accuracy of a GPS location can be improved to less than a metre. “We anticipate that most Australians’ devices will be able to see that signal, and exploit the improved positioning,” says Dawson. “What we’ll be trialling, for the first time in the world, is a new sort of correction message that has the potential to get accuracy down to 10cm,” says Dr Phil Collier, research director at CRCSI. “Our role will be to work with organisations across industry to run trials, demonstrations and research projects to find out what applications exist for this technology, and what the benefits are to those sectors,” he says. “For precision agriculture, for example, where tractors are driving themselves around, an accuracy of 5cm means they’re not running over crops in the paddock.” CRCSI and Geoscience Australia are seeking expressions of interest from industry to test potential applications of the new system, which is expected to begin operation from July 2017. “This capability opens up a raft of applications in many fields. Mining, agriculture, transportation – the higher precision is a very tantalising prospect,” says Collier.
Industry placements pave the way to success CRCs are leading the way in introducing PhD students to a career in industry with targeted placement programs and projects, KJ Lee reports.
Industry placements for CRC students have been an integral part of the CRC Programme since it began in 1991. While students contribute to solving real-world problems of industry, industry partners mentor students on the commercial side of their field and help produce industry-ready graduates who can hit the ground running. Rebecca Athorn did a PhD, supported by the Pork CRC, investigating increased feeding and progesterone in young pigs during their first pregnancy and the effects on embryo survival. Part of her project was conducted in a commercial piggery owned by Australian pork producer Rivalea. Athorn’s work showed that feeding the first-time mothers more didn’t affect the size of their litters, but did make the mothers healthier and live longer. As well as delivering a practical improvement to commercial piggery practices, the study put Athorn in the spotlight for potential employers.
“I was approached by Rivalea as to my interest in working for them after I finished my PhD,” says Athorn. Several of her colleagues also partnered with Rivalea for their Honours projects before joining the company as employees. “Having been known to the company and having positive references from those they worked with definitely helped,” says Athorn. Even students with previous work experience in the field can benefit from an industry placement, says Tracy Muller. She worked with the CSIRO and the Prairie Swine Centre in Canada on pig welfare before entering the Pork CRC’s Industry Placement Program (IPP) at SunPork Farms and starting a PhD to identify and reduce lameness in pigs. “The IPP has positively impacted on my ‘entry’ into the industry,” says Muller. “Together with the support of SunPork Farms, it has certainly progressed my career in the past four years, since graduating from university 14 years ago.”
Showcasing Early Career Researchers FINALISTS 2017
The Showcasing Early Career Researchers Competition celebrates good research that is well communicated. Entrants were asked to submit a 30-second video conveying the aim of their research. Five finalists were selected from 41 entrants to attend the 2017 CRC Association Annual Conference in Canberra, to give a 5-minute presentation. An audience vote at the conference will determine the winner.
JULIE BEADLE • The HEARing CRC HEARING LOSS IN OLDER ADULTS I am investigating how age-related changes in cognitive functioning contribute to older adults struggling to hear in everyday noisy situations.
PhD student Tracey Muller (far right) at Australasian Pig Science Association 2015 conference in Melbourne with her presentation on the use of a supplement block to reduce aggression and provide enrichment for sows when first mixed in groups. She was pictured with fellow Pork CRC supported students Brooke Dearlove (far left) and Julia Huser (left).
JACQUILINE DEN HOUTING • Autism CRC TOO ANXIOUS TO ACHIEVE I am using assessments of anxiety and academic achievement in autistic students to identify whether the same link exists within the autistic community as it does in the non-autistic.
87 9TH %
of CRC PhD graduates between 2003 and 2013 were employed by industry.
DORIS GROSSE • Space Environment Research Centre MANAGING SPACE DEBRIS There are more than 100,000 space debris objects orbiting Earth. To prevent collisions with satellites, I am working on a ground-based laser system that can be aimed at the debris to move them out of the way.
In partnership with universities, CRCs were the 9th largest provider of PhD completions by 2012.
The number of active PHD students each year in the average CRC.
CRCs were the 12th largest provider of research training in Australia by 2012.
TOMAS REMENYI • Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems CRC TACKLING CLIMATE CHANGE The Climate Futures Team translates climate data into useful tools that are used by decision-makers in industries across Australia. We work closely with them to quantify risk and opportunities.
of Australia’s PhD students are funded by a CRC.
MELISSA SCOTT • Autism CRC WORKPLACES FOR ALL My research has helped develop the Integrated Employment Success Tool, a program that gives employers the skills to support people on the autism spectrum in the workplace.
students have completed their PhD with a CRC since the program began in 1991.
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TOP 10 CRC BREAKTHROUGH INNOVATIONS
Now in their 27th year, the Cooperative Research Centres are leading innovation outcomes in Australia, reports Penny Pryor.
THE CURE TECHNOLOGY/PROGRAM: PRMT5 inhibitors CANCER THERAPEUTICS CRC cancercrc.com
IMPACT: The Cancer Therapeutics CRC (CTx), with its UK-based commercialisation partner, Cancer Research Technology, has licensed rights to a program of small molecule drugs called PRMT5 inhibitors to MSD (Merck in the US and Canada) in a multimillion-dollar deal. PRMT5 drugs have clinical potential in both cancer and non-cancer blood disorders. The deal involved an upfront payment of $21 million and potential payments in excess of $700 million. A minimum of 70% of those payments will be returned to CTx.
SAVING EVERY DROP TECHNOLOGY/PROGRAM: Aquarevo CRC FOR WATER SENSITIVE CITIES watersensitivecities.org.au
IMPACT: Each of the 44 homes in Australia’s first water sensitive community, Aquarevo, in Lyndhurst, Victoria, requires approximately 70% less mains water than a regular suburban house. The homes catch, filter and treat most of their own water supply. Houses are plumbed with three types of water – drinking, recycled and rainwater – which means drinking water won’t be flushed down the toilet. The project was developed in conjunction with Villawood properties and South East Water.
INNOVATION IN EXPLORATION TECHNOLOGY/PROGRAM: RoXplorer® DEEP EXPLORATION TECHNOLOGY CRC detcrc.com.au
IMPACT: The new RoXplorer® will help access previously hard to locate greenfields (unchartered) mineral deposits beneath the barren surface rocks, which obscure mineralised rocks in about 80% of Australia. RoXplorer® will drill at around one sixth the cost of conventional diamond drilling techniques and be much safer. This will help reverse a two decades old trend which has seen Australia’s share of the world’s expenditure on mineral exploration drop from one quarter to one eighth.
DRIVING ON EMPTY TECHNOLOGY/PROGRAM: eBus EXCELLERATE AUSTRALIA (AUTOMOTIVE AUSTRALIA 2020 CRC) excellerateaustralia.com
IMPACT: A partnership of the AutoCRC, Swinburne University of Technology’s Electric Vehicle Laboratory and Bustech (part of Transit Australia Group), this is the first electric bus to be designed, engineered and manufactured in Australia. The buses are, on average, 80% cheaper to maintain than the current diesel buses. Each seat has a USB charger for mobile devices and the buses seat 50 passengers. Late last year, Bustech signed a deal to produce buses for the South Australian government.
TOP 10 CRC BREAKTHROUGH INNOVATIONS
THE DEMISE OF CASH TECHNOLOGY/PROGRAM: digi.cash CAPITAL MARKETS CRC cmcrc.com digi.cash
IMPACT: digi.cash is a system that allows the issuing and circulation of many different kinds of electronic cash. It can be stored on phones, computers or an external storage drive like a USB and can be sent the same way as any other file. The digi.cash founder Andreas Furche says it is “much faster than Blockchain-based so-called cryptocurrencies, and much better suited for centrally issued financial instruments, like national currencies, or shares”.
SWIMMING UPSTREAM TECHNOLOGY/PROGRAM: Carp bio-control virus INVASIVE ANIMALS CRC invasiveanimals.com
IMPACT: Carp are one of the worst introduced freshwater aquatic species in Australia with an economic impact estimated at up to $500 million per year. A new carp bio-control virus with potential to kill up to 95% of individual carp is ready to be released. “Ten years of CRC research has basically given the answer the carp bio-control agent is safe and useable,” says Invasive Animals CRC communications manager, Ian McDonald. The virus will be most effective in the first couple of years of use.
FIGHTING MORE THAN FIRES TECHNOLOGY/PROGRAM: Assessing measurement of toxic chemicals CRC CARE crccare.com
IMPACT: PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate) and PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) are common toxic synthetic fluorinated chemicals. While being phased out, they are still encountered in fire-fighting chemicals. The National Measurement Institute collaborated with EPA Victoria on a CRC CARE project to conduct Australia’s first proficiency studies for these contaminants. These studies are an important tool for assessing contamination.
SAFETY FIRST TECHNOLOGY/PROGRAM: “If It’s Flooded, Forget it” campaign BUSHFIRE AND NATURAL HAZARDS CRC bnhcrc.com.au
IMPACT: Multimedia communications encouraging specific behaviour during disasters can be challenging. The BNHCRC has proven that use of the right visual imagery in official emergency warning communications assist people to act appropriately. Early versions of the “If it’s Flooded, Forget it” preparedness campaign inadvertently showed people engaged in “exactly the activity that we are trying to prevent” according to QUT’s Professor Vivienne Tippett, who is a BNHCRC lead researcher. New versions of the campaign involve a 4WD coming to a flooded waterway and deciding not to drive through, “the behaviour we’re trying to encourage”.
AIMING HIGH TECHNOLOGY/PROGRAM: International collaboration on laser signals CRC FOR SPACE ENVIRONMENT MANAGEMENT serc.org.au
IMPACT: In collaboration with the Japanese space agency, JAXA, researchers from the CRC for Space Environment Management sent a beam of light, via an electro-optic laser from Mt Stromlo in Canberra, 6.7 million km away to an accelerating Japanese satellite called Hayabusa 2. It showed that a laser of this capacity can reach space debris in nearEarth orbit and is a significant step towards being able to more accurately track and eventually manoeuvre space debris (see “Shining a light on space debris” on page 5).
ON THIN ICE TECHNOLOGY/PROGRAM: Totten Glacier thinning ANTARCTIC CLIMATE AND ECOSYSTEMS CRC acecrc.org.au
IMPACT: Taking advantage of a long crack that opened up in sea ice (which is normally impenetrable to ships), ACE CRC researchers used Australia’s icebreaker Aurora Australis to confirm that the Totten Glacier, East Antarctica’s largest glacier, is melting from below as warm ocean water reaches the ice shelf. Totten has the highest basal melt rate among Eastern Antarctic ice shelves and contains enough ice to raise global sea levels by about 3.5m if it melted completely.
THE BIGGER PICTURE Growth Centres are drawing together multiple stakeholders to help commercialise groundbreaking research. The ingredients for successful collaboration are now emerging, Susan Hely reports.
HE GROWTH CENTRES launched in October 2015 with $250 million in government funding to 2019/2020. With six now up and running, new collaborations, with the CRCs and others, are beginning to bear fruit. Take the pioneering idea of using a 3D printer to build joints and limbs damaged through cancer or trauma. The Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals (MTP) Industry Growth Centre, MTPConnect, extended BioFab3D@ACMD a grant to set up Australia’s first robotics and biomedical engineering centre within a hospital. A group of researchers, clinicians, engineers and industry partners will work together to build organs, bones, brain, muscle, nerves and glands – almost anything that requires repair – for patients based at St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne. One of the big benefits is that the 3D printing will be more cost-effective for patients. The path for BioFab3D from clever research to commercial success is still a long, complicated one. Collaboration is key and BioFab3D is working with St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne, University of Melbourne, University of Wollongong, RMIT University and Swinburne University of Technology. According to Sue MacLeman, CEO of MTPConnect, Australia has many strong and innovative medical and health groups that are on the cusp of realising their full commercial potential. This is where CRCs come in. “CRCs already have research before it is picked up by the multinationals,” she explains. MacLeman says MTPConnect works with 12 CRCs and aims to help drive their commercial success. “The MTP sector is hindered by constraints including a lack of collaboration between business and research, skills shortages, the need for more focused investment, and the need for more streamlined and harmonised regulatory and market access frameworks,” says MacLeman. To meet these challenges the Australian government has provided six Growth Centres (see “Six of the best” on page 24) with funding to help smart projects realise their full potential.
“Growth Centres have an enormous range of things to do. Everyone wants them to do everything. They work in tight timeframes,” explains Professor Robert Cowan, CEO of The HEARing CRC, which has been meeting with MTPConnect. “We have 48,000 people in our sector, but we can’t speak to all of those people,” explains MacLeman. The MTP is well served by membership organisations such as Medicines Australia, the Medical Technology Association of Australia, and ARCS Australia (previously the Association of Regulatory and Clinical Scientists), adds MacLeman. It has signed a number of memorandums of understandings (MOUs) with membership associations to appreciate what is important in the sectors, particularly global best practice. But Growth Centres need to remain independent, not heavily skewed to certain groups, says MacLeman. “What is important is that we don’t take paid membership. You can sign up and showcase your work, but we want to keep it independent and not to be seen as a lobby group,” says MacLeman. “That is very powerful for us. To have a strategic voice and a lot of alignment.” Collaboration was essential for The HEARing CRC when it recently trialled an electrode that released an antiinflammatory drug into the cochlear post-implantation. The trial brought together devices, drugs, analysts and the ethical and regulatory approvals. “This new electrode array helps
reduce inflammation and the growth of fibrous tissue around the electrode array triggered by the body’s immune response,” says Cowan. Unlike a drug trial that involves hundreds and thousands of patients, the trial could be tested on a small number of people undergoing surgery. The world-first study was only possible through an interdisciplinary team of researchers, engineers and clinicians from Cochlear, the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital, the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children’s Sydney Cochlear Implant Centre, The University of Melbourne and the University of Wollongong. Cowan says he expects MTPConnect will provide assistance to med-tech companies and research institutes in finding and developing new markets, collaborators and investors for Australian medical technologies. THE MINING INDUSTRY is also tapping into groundbreaking research coming out of universities through CRCs and engaging with the new mining equipment, technology and services (METS) growth centre, METS Ignited. Extracting minerals from the Earth has become much more challenging. Mineral grades are dropping as reserves are being used up and environmental issues are impacting on mining operations. As a result, mining companies are looking at new ways to extract minerals, using technology as cost-effectively as possible.
An ear for opportunity
Prof Robert Cowan
The HEARing CRC has a number of collaborative research projects into hearing loss and one of these is HEARsmart, which is designed to help prevent hearing loss in young adults who are exposed to booming loud sounds such as musicians, DJs, sound engineers and regular club goers. “We are looking at behaviour change to prevent hearing loss. It could potentially save us millions of dollars,” says Professor Robert Cowan, CEO of the HEARing CRC. HEARsmart is a collaborative group of research audiologists, psychologists, musicians, engineers and hearing experts with many years of practical experience in measuring sound and uncovering people’s attitudes and motivations towards sound and hearing health. hearsmart.org
“The downturn in the mining market is really focusing the mind,” explains Clytie Dangar, general manager, stakeholder engagement at the CRC for Optimising Resource Extraction (CRC ORE). “We can’t afford to stand still.” CRC ORE has around 20 active research programs that span robotics, mathematics, data science, predictive modelling as well as broad engineering that focuses on blasting techniques and efficiently extracting minerals from waste. Dangar says the CRC has total funding of $110 million up until mid-2020. This is made up of $37 million from the government and the balance from industry. CRC ORE and METS Ignited signed a MOU in January to work together to improve commercialisation and collaboration outcomes for Australian METS companies. Australia has the world’s largest reserves of diamonds, gold, iron ore, lead, nickel, zinc and rutile (a major mineral source of titanium), according to METS Ignited. “Australia is at the forefront of mining innovation over the years. A lot of countries have looked at Australia, certainly over the boom years. The challenge is to stay there when the money isn’t there and the nature of the reserves has changed. One way is to utilise the skill set,” says Dangar. With sharp falls in commodity prices, mining companies are keen to
participate in game-changing technology, she says. CRC ORE is engaging with big miners, such as Newcrest and BHP Billiton. It’s also tapped into the $90 billion mining sector, together with universities and PhD students who are carrying out innovative research. The role of the Growth Centre is to link up all the stakeholders and capture the research, says Dangar. “It is important to be well engaged. Our job as a CRC is to translate the needs of the miners to the researchers and make sure the researchers are addressing those issues. It is very applied because we have a short timeline. We must meet our guidelines and we provide small buckets of funds in grants,” says Dangar. The key is being nimble as well as courageous in supporting research, even though it may not always work, says Dangar. CRC ORE is not in the business of funding long-term research with a horizon of seven to 10 years, but prefers a two- to three-year timeframe. “In the past, there was a natural tension between METS and miners, but now they can’t wait until it is up and running,” explains Dangar. “Miners need to support METS earlier.” Some of Australia’s step-change advances in mining include flotation to separate materials, bulk explosives, mechanised mining and large mills. One of the biggest issues for miners is
how to separate metal from rock more efficiently. Dangar says CRC ORE is working on solving this problem to lower unit costs, and reduce energy and water consumption. Some of these approaches helped Newcrest Mining get better mineral grades at a cheaper cost at its Telfer mine in Western Australia. “A lot of mining companies had their own research departments, but some of the issues are industry-wide issues, and it is better to be collaborative than go it alone,” says Dangar.
Six of the best THE ADVANCED MANUFACTURING GROWTH CENTRE LTD (AMGC) is working with the Innovative Manufacturing CRC, which kicked off in the 2015 CRC funding round. In February, the AMGC funded Geelong’s Quickstep Holdings, a manufacturer of advanced carbon fibre composites, to the tune of $500,000. The AMGC believes the project has the potential to generate export revenue in excess of $25 million.
AMGC.ORG.AU THE AUSTRALIAN CYBER SECURITY GROWTH NETWORK is an industry-led organisation that will develop the next-generation products and services required to live and work securely in our increasingly connected world.
FOOD INNOVATION AUSTRALIA LTD (FIAL), based at the CSIRO in Victoria, works closely with the relevant CRCs. CRCs have a long history of work in food and agriculture and have included the Seafood CRC, Future Farm CRC, CRC for Innovative Food products and many more.
FIAL.COM.AU MTPCONNECT covers the medical technologies and pharmaceuticals sector and includes the Wound Management Innovation CRC, Cancer Therapeutics CRC and HEARing CRC as members, among others.
MTPCONNECT.ORG.AU NATIONAL ENERGY RESOURCES AUSTRALIA is the Oil, Gas and Energy Resources Growth Centre, and will work with the CRC for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment (CRC CARE) to “encourage industry-focused research and unlock commercial opportunities”. It also has links with the mining equipment, technology and services growth centre, METS IGNITED, which works closely with the CRC for Optimising Resource Extraction (CRC ORE).
Partner and prosper Clytie Dangar from CRC ORE, gives her top five tips on developing productive collaboration. Ensure adequate time is spent on clearly framing the key industry issues. Focus effort on what really matters across a broad base in the industry. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Identify existing technologies that if brought together or improved on might provide a better solution. Where there are knowledge or technology gaps, translate this to researchers so that work can be focused on novel ways to fill them. Work out the competing timelines. While companies want solutions to their issues promptly, complex research can take time. Ensure everyone is clear on what can be achieved within the timeframe. Industry needs to be courageous and support
research – even though the research could, in some cases, ultimately fail. Development teams need opportunity to test and trial new technology to 'prove up' or 'qualify out' an approach quickly. Industry needs to be willing to provide the “sandpit” (test sites or data) to test in as well as feedback on operational challenges with implementation. Promote the opportunity of being a part of a bigger solution. It is easier to sell your single point idea as part of a more holistic approach. As a technology provider or researcher you can set yourself apart from the competition if you can position your solution as a critical part of a much bigger value proposition to the end user. Collective commitment and enthusiasm to make something work has the potential to build confidence in the end user leading to faster uptake.
How do you exit a CRC? When a CRC’s business arm is up and running, there comes a time for it to stop being known as a research group. The Wound Management Innovation CRC (Wound CRC) is in the process of transitioning certain key activities out of its CRC. It is funded until 2018, but is working towards translation activities midway through its term, explains Dr Ian Griffiths, CEO of Wound CRC. “We are now positioned so that during 2017 we can deliver translation activities, with our remaining research and development portfolio feeding into the value of the translation businesses through to the end of our funding term in 2018.” Wound CRC’s extensive body of research is helping the 433,000 Australian patients suffering from chronic wounds in Australia.
DISRUPTORS Australiaâ€™s productivity is poised on a knife edge as traditional boom areas bust. But four new industries are set to take up the strain, Penny Pryor reports.
ISRUPTION CAN MEAN A LOT OF things. Dictionary definitions include “a forcible separation” or division into parts. More recently it has come to mean a radical change in industry or business. This brings to mind huge technological innovations. But what if it’s as simple as realising that a handheld device for detecting nitrogen could also be used to gauge how much feed there is in a paddock; that drones can be adapted to measure pest infestations; that communities can proactively track the movement of feral animals. These are just some of the projects that Cooperative Research Centres (CRCs) are working on that have the capacity to change crop and livestock outcomes in Australia, improve our environment and advance our financial systems.
Data and environment MAPPING PEST THREATS
Invasive animals have long been an issue in Australia. But a program developed by the Invasive Animals CRC called FeralScan is taking advantage of the widespread use of smartphones to combat this problem. The program involves an app that enables landholders to share information about pest animals and the impacts they cause to improve local management programs. Peter West, FeralScan project coordinator at the NSW Department of Primary Industries, says the team wouldn’t have thought of a photo-sharing app without genuine community consultation. The project has been running for six years and can record sightings, impacts and control activities for a wide range of pest species in Australia, including rabbits, foxes, feral cats, cane toads and myna birds. West says that it now has 70,000 records and photographs, and more than 14,000 registered users across the country. “For regional management of high-impacting pest species, such as wild dogs, what we’re providing is a tool that can help farmers and biosecurity stakeholders detect and respond quickly to pest animal threats,” says West.
“It enables them to either reprioritise where they are going to do control work or to sit down and work with other regional partners: catchment groups, local biosecurity authorities and the broader community.” The app won the Environment and Energy Minister’s award for a Cleaner Environment in the field of Research and Science excellence at the Banksia Foundation 2016 Awards in December. Recent improvements to the app include the ability to monitor rabbit bio-control agents. Plans for the future include upgrading the technology to alert farmers to nearby pest threats, says West.
REVISING DISASTER WARNINGS Also in the information space, the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC (BNHCRC) is investigating reasons we don’t pay attention to or ignore messages that notify us of an impending fire or floods. Researchers are using theories of marketing, crisis communications and advertising to create messaging most likely to assist people to get out of harm’s way. “The way we personally assess risk has a big impact on how we interpret messages. If I have a higher risk tolerance I will probably underestimate risk,” says Vivienne Tippett, BNHCRC project lead researcher and professor at Queensland University of Technology. “We’ve worked with many emergency services agencies to assist them to reconstruct their messages.” Instead of an emergency message with a brief heading, followed by the agency name and then a quite technical paragraph about weather conditions and geography, Tippett’s team has worked on moving the key message up to the top and translating it into layperson terms. For example, a message might now say something like: “This is a fast-moving, unpredictable fire in the face of strong winds.”
Unmanned aerial system (drone) pilots, Trevor Witt (left) and Dr Jon Kok (right) from the Plant Biosecurity CRC project, discuss data collected from a hyperspectral camera.
Tippett’s team is constantly working with emergency services to make sure their findings are made use of as quickly as possible. “The feedback from the community is that yes, they understand it better and they would be more likely to comply” she says.
MEASURING PLANT MASS AND PESTS IN CROPS The Plant Biosecurity CRC is using unmanned aerial systems (UAS or drones) to improve ways to detect pest infestations in vast crops. Project leader Brian McCornack is based at the Kansas State University in the US. “The driver for using unmanned aerial systems has been in response to a need to improve efficiency [reduce costs and increase time] for surveillance activities over large areas, given limited resources,” says McCornack. “The major game-changer is the affordability of existing UAS technology and sophisticated sensors.” The project is now in its third year and adds an extra layer of data to the current, more traditional system, which relies on a crop consultant making a visual assessment based on a small sample area of land, often from a reduced vantage point.
The international collaboration between the US and the Australian partners at QUT, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, and the NSW Department of Primary Industries means the project has access to a wide range of data on species of biosecurity importance. The CRC for Spatial Information (CRCSI) has also been working on repurposing an existing gadget, in this case to improve the accuracy of estimating pasture biomass. Currently, graziers use techniques such as taking height measurements or eyeballing to determine how much feed is available to livestock in a paddock. However, such techniques can result in huge variability in estimates of pasture biomass, and often underestimate the feed-on-offer. Professor David Lamb, leader of the Biomass Business project, says graziers underestimate green pasture biomass by around 50%. There could be a huge potential to improve farm productivity by getting these measures right. Through case studies conducted on commercial farms in Victoria, Meat and Livestock Australia found that improving feed allocation could increase productivity by 11.1%,
coverage of calibrations for a range of pasture types throughout the year.
USING BIG DATA ON THE FARM In July 2016, the federal government announced funding for a partner project “Accelerating precision agriculture to decision agriculture”. The Data to Decisions Cooperative Research Centre (D2D CRC) has partnered with all 15 rural research and development corporations (RDCs) on the project. “The goal of the project is to help producers use big data to make informed on-farm decisions to drive profitability,” says D2D CRC lead Andrew Skinner. He says that while the project may not provide concrete answers to specific data-related questions, it will provide discussion projects for many issues and concerns that cross different rural industries, such as yield optimisation and input efficiencies. Collaboration between the 15 RDCs is a first in Australia and has the potential to reveal information that could shape a gamut of agricultural industries. “Having all the RDCs come together in this way is unique,” says Skinner.
“We’re providing a tool that can help farmers and biosecurity stakeholders detect and respond quickly to pest animal threats.” or up to $96 per hectare on average, for sheep enterprises, and 9.6% ($52 per hectare) for cattle enterprises. The CRCSI and Meat and Livestock Australia looked at a number of devices that measure NDVI (the normalised difference vegetation index), like the Trimble Green Seeker® and the Holland Crop Circle®. The data collected by these devices can then be entered into the CRCSI app to provide calibrated estimates of green pasture biomass. Graziers can also create their own calibrations as they come to understand how accurate, or inaccurate, their own estimates have been. These crowd-sourced calibrations can be shared with other graziers to increase the regional
The Capital Markets CRC, in conjunction with industry, has developed a system that allows it to issue and circulate many digital currencies, securely and with very fast processing times - and because it is a first mover in this space, has the potential to be a global disruptor. Digi.cash is a spinoff of the Capital Markets CRC and is specifically designed for centrally issued money, like national currencies. “Essentially we have built the printing press for electronic coins and banknotes, directly suited to issuing national currencies in digital form, as individual electronic coins and banknotes that can be held and
Feralscan has developed an app to share information on pests, while drones (above right) are also improving detection of pest infestations.
passed on to others,” says digi.cash founder Andreas Furche. A currency in digi.cash’s system is more than a balance entry in an accounts database, it is an actual encrypted note or coin. The act of transfer of an electronic note itself becomes the settlement. This is in contrast to legacy systems, where transaction ledgers are created that require settlement in accounts. So there is no settlement or clearing period. “We have a advantage globally because we were on the topic relatively early and we have a group of people who have built a lot of banking and stock exchange technologies in the past, so we were able to develop a product which held up to the IT securities standards used in banking right away,” says Furche. Digi.cash is currently operating with a limit of total funds on issue of $10 million. It is looking to partner with industry players and be in a leading position in the development of the next generation financial system, which CMCRC says will be based on digitised assets.
Passive radar, as developed by the Defence Science and Technology Group (DST), has been around for some time, but is being refined and re-engineered in an environment where radiofrequency energy is much more common. As recognition of the disruptive capabilities of this technology, the Passive Radar team at DST was recently accepted into the CSIRO’s innovation accelerator program, ON Accelerate. Active radar works by sending out a very large blast of energy and listening for reflections of that energy, but at the same time it quickly notifies anyone nearby of the transmitter’s whereabouts. “Passive radar is the same thing, but we don’t transmit any energy - we take advantage of the energy that is already there,” explains passive radar team member James Palmer. The technology is being positioned as a complement for active radar. It can be used where there are more stringent regulations around radar spectrum – such as the centre of a city as opposed to an isolated rural area. Radio spectrum is also a finite resource and there is now so much commercial demand that the
allocation for Defence is diminishing. Although the idea of passive radar is not a new one – one of the first radar presentations in the 1930s was a passive radar demonstration – the increase in radiofrequency energy from a variety of sources these days means it is more efficient. For example, signals from digital TV are much more suited to passive radar than analogue TV. “We are at the point where we are seeing some really positive results and we’ve been developing commercial potential for this technology,” Palmer
says. “For a potentially risky job like a radar operator the ability to see what’s around you [without revealing your position], that’s very game changing.” There is also no need to apply for an expensive spectrum licence. The Australian team is also the first in the world to demonstrate that it can use Pay TV satellites as a viable form of background radiofrequency energy. The company name Silentium Defence Pty Ltd has been registered for the commercial use of the technology.
THE BEST DEFENCE IS GOOD RESEARCH The University of Adelaide’s world-class researchers work in partnership with defence and industry to develop innovative technologies that help give our Australian Defence Force a real edge.
adelaide.edu.au/defence-security KNOWHOW MAGAZINE
KNOWHOW + D2D CRC
Tracking trends from our digital footprints A groundbreaking D2D CRC program can now predict destabilising events such as social upheaval, political crises, election outcomes and disease epidemics, reports Lauren Martin.
Every day we produce an almost unfathomable amount of data. Posting on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Commenting in chat rooms; blogging; trading stock tips; and decorating hacks in niche forums. We broadcast what we’re eating, feeling and doing from our GPS-equipped smartphones, sharing maps of our runs, photos from shows, and news that gets us cranky or inspired. The details of our passing moods are all there, creating a vital if virtual public pulse. Dr Brenton Cooper’s Data to Decisions (D2D) CRC team checks this pulse and, by extracting signals from our collective digital footprint, shows where we’re going next. Are we gearing up to strike? Or celebrate? Is disease spreading? What effect will an interest rates hike have? Are we about to toss out the government, or move money out of the market? Whatever the social disruption, D2D CRC’s Beat The News™ forecasting system can issue a warning – before it happens. In March 2016, it accurately forecasted the impact of an anti-coal port protest in Newcastle, NSW. The following May, no ships could move during the protest blockade, costing an estimated $20 million.
“This warning system tells you what might happen, when it will happen and why.” Social media monitoring is already a billion-dollar industry, and Cooper, who is D2D CRC’s Chief Technology Officer, knows “there are plenty of tools that help you understand what’s happening right now. But this tells you what might happen, when it will happen and why.” This sort of heads-up will be invaluable. D2D CRC’s first collaborators are Australia’s defence and national security agencies, whose analysts now have a Beat The News™ dashboard that sifts through about two billion data points a day. “These are people paid to understand the political climate, but they can’t read everything,” explains Cooper. “That’s where machineenablement certainly helps.”
Maybe the agencies are watching Indonesian politics and want to know if there might be some unrest in the capital Jakarta. Beat The News™ analyses a huge volume of open-source information, combining structured and unstructured data from a wide range of sources. It geo-locates posts, extracts key words, topics, trends and hashtags, and measures sentiment. “Once we’ve done those types of data enrichments, we then pump it through a variety of models,” says Cooper, “to automatically and accurately predict the answer.” The potential applications are many, so the CRC recently trademarked Fivecast™ – “as in forecast, only one better,” says Cooper – to take the system to market, whether as a spin-off company, licensing to a partner, or licensing the IP to a third party. US company Dataminr has raised more than US$130 million from investors for its real-time analytics, but Cooper says Fivecast™ will offer a further capacity – event prediction. It’s the only predictive geopolitical risk analytics platform on the market. Corporate risk consultancies are already interested. Their clients include global mall conglomerates alert to anything that might stop people enjoying their shopping.
CONNECTING WITH THE COMMUNITY Developing research excellence in Indigenous affairs requires a commitment to collaborate with communities at every stage of the research, reports Claire Harris.
sking the question, "So,
what do you want from the research?" seemed a somewhat unusual start to a project working with Aboriginal tour operators in the Kimberley, in the north of Western Australia. But it shouldn’t be, says Damien Jacobsen, principal research leader of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Tourism Product project for the CRC for Remote Economic Participation (CRC REP) based in Alice Springs. “For us good practice in collaborative research means we are asking people what they want, we are being completely transparent and we are bringing them into the process so that they
understand us too,” says Jacobsen. The Tourism Product project was one of 12 projects set up under CRC REP’s mandate to investigate and provide practical responses to the diverse and complex issues that drive Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in the economy. The challenges underpinning efforts to increase economic participation are immense. And the first challenge is understanding that while “economic participation” may sound fairly straightforward, Western and Indigenous paradigms for what this means are very different. “The primary concerns for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in tourism are the wellbeing of 31
their people, their country and their culture,” says Jacobsen. “Being in business is the means to those ends. That’s why it’s important to do this background research to help businesses be smarter so that Indigenous people can achieve the goals they are working towards.” Researchers on the tourism project went to remote communities without preconceived research questions. They explored only themes that tourism business operators wanted, such as how to establish business clusters to share capacity and knowledge. The project also provided non-Indigenous stakeholders with insights into how Indigenous businesses operate. Challenges to remote business KNOWHOW MAGAZINE
Clifford Coulthard (far right), a member of the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association, interprets Aboriginal rock art to visitors at Iga Warta in the Flinders Ranges, South Australia.
include: being located vast distances from markets; limited human resources and support networks; extreme seasons and weather; high running costs, for example more expensive fuel and food; and limited connectivity (sometimes phone lines do not work for weeks). “Conducting truly collaborative research in remote Australia means having a heightened awareness of what it means to be in remote Australia. And you need an appropriate amount of time and be mindful that it will take a while to get hold of people,” says Jacobsen. A mindful and value-based approach is something that Tim Acker, principal research leader for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Economies project, also advocates, adding that without it, projects miss out on true collaboration and effective results. “For example, the better projects I’ve seen have had researchers spending weeks or a couple of months getting to know people. That’s what leads to mutual success in a research project,” says Acker. When talking about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses, Indigenous art comes to most people’s minds. But despite the high profile,
“It’s so important for agencies to make sure research is going to be beneficial and not just so someone can get a PhD.” there have been big knowledge gaps about the business of art and opportunities for growth. Acker and the team from the Art Economies project collaborated with more than 170 art businesses, 82 out of Australia’s 87 art centres, four of the five peak bodies from various states, all eight government agencies involved in the sector, plus 900 art buyers at three national art fairs. It is an impressive rollcall. As a result, CRC REP has built the most credible dataset on the Indigenous art economy to date. Acker says this is because they invested in co-design (with longer research timeframes than usual thanks to the CRC program) and the time needed to develop relationships. “The primary goal was returning something of value to the sector. This meant for the first couple of years we did a lot of talking. Presenting at events, meeting with people,
negotiating with people to contribute data and time,” says Acker. Acker says that the crystal-clear focus on applying research to tangible elements (like finances and the mechanics of how the industry works) and very clear communication about what the research intended to do, was at the centre of project activities. “The lens we started with was: why would people want to share data with us? What’s in it for them to spend time working with us when most people are often overworked, under-resourced and stressed out?” explains Acker. A tangible benefit for art centres was receiving comprehensive data and better information tools which they can use to run their businesses more effectively. The project adapted existing computer software used in the sector and now, at the push of a button, art centre managers can see production, provenance and sales data. They can
also explore a decade of trend data and compare their centre to others across the country. The research results are part of a growing asset. Ultimately no one knows what the final results will be, requiring an element of trust from participants. The way a project is framed – with clear communication, empathy and understanding – can make all the difference, says Gabrielle Sullivan, former manager of Martumili Artists in the Pilbara, Western Australia, and now CEO of public company Indigenous Art Code. “Right from the beginning, I felt that the researchers understood art centres and the challenges we face, such as under-resourcing and a lack of time,” she says. “Through really clear, concise communication it was very easy to understand what was required of us and we could see the immediate benefit of better data and information, which we could use in our business. “We knew by contributing data, along with other art centres, this would also help paint a picture of what’s happening across Australia,” she says. Sullivan says results from the project have helped explain why art centres are important for artists and communities. The research has also helped uncover where centres can improve, for example, in achieving gender balance among the artists connected with the centres as well as strategies to recruit and retain art centre staff. The Art Economies project results are being widely used. The statistics of how important art is in the value chain have been useful for negotiating funding with government agencies and for accurately representing the art sector to inform the private member’s bill introduced by the Hon Bob Katter MP to federal parliament in February, says Sullivan. “It’s so important for agencies to make sure research is going to be beneficial and not just so someone can get a PhD,” she adds. There is an underlying sense of researcher fatigue in remote communities, where people think, “Oh yes, here’s another researcher”, and Acker has some very specific advice for people wanting to embark on a collaborative journey. “Go slowly; relationships are primary, whether at the individual, community or wider regional level,” he says. According to Acker and Jacobsen, the key considerations for good collaborative research projects are: resources and time; researchers familiar with the sector; openness to building relationships; taking a personalised approach to participants; being visible in the community; and plenty of good and releavant communication. Acker adds that ultimately, conducting effective collaborative research is all about straightforward human connections and giving the space and time to allow them to happen. And knowing whether you’re doing a good job can sometimes come down to the simplest of indicators. “If people didn’t want to talk to me anymore, I would take that as a sign it wasn’t working. But where I had that ongoing relationship and the participants wanted to keep connecting, that was a sign we were on the right track,” says Jacobsen.
200 The number of Aboriginal Community Researchers provided with training and employment in CRC REP research projects.
GO FIGURE of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artworks sell for less than $1,000.
The number of tourism operators who worked with the CRC REP to help grow their businesses.
The percentage drop in the average price of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander paintings since 2005.
70% of funding for small Indigenous art centres comes from grants.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are working as artists.
Gabrielle Sullivan (on the roof), CEO of Indigenous Art Code, helps pack the Martumili Artists’ vehicle in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
The art of collaboration
Prof Sharon Bell Innovation success means building safe spaces for teams to fail.
Professor Sharon Bell is Honorary Professor College of Arts and Social Sciences, ANU and board member of Ninti One.
When we speak of innovation we increasingly couple it with collaboration. Collaboration is regularly promoted as a positive attribute and productive means to an end. In my own research, I promote collaboration as a mechanism for including more women in scientific teams in maledominated fields, and as a mechanism to sustain research when individuals are juggling the competing demands of life and family. In this context, at one end of the spectrum we might be speaking of the collaboration that characterises teamwork within an organisation, while at the other end of the spectrum we might be speaking of international scientific collaboration that draws geographically dispersed networks together. My research over the past decade on women in the academy and women in science has heightened my interest in collaboration and how it might encapsulate “the way we do things around here” – our organisational culture. I am particularly interested in the way in which men are sponsored and socialised into strategic relationships, particularly within business and industry – an opportunity not readily available to most women. Yet we know little about the social processes that sit behind the scientific production of knowledge, and most of our recognition and reward systems focus on the outstanding individual. The myth of individual creative genius is a myth that my colleagues who work with remote Indigenous communities, just like those in large international scientific research teams, know is culturally and historically specific. Those who are privileged to work with Indigenous communities know that collaboration based on deep respect of 34
different “ways of seeing”, encoded in art, language and religion and formulated over extremely long periods of time, is central to sustaining collaborative relationships. Longevity of relationship is particularly highly valued, and the time taken to build respectful relationships and trust is a critical part of any sustained and productive engagement. They also know that while knowledgeable individuals are involved, the knowledge is collectively owned and accessible only through well-established protocols. The “art” of collaboration is far more than a set of pragmatic, instrumental practices. With a degree of candor, I should state that I am not always a great collaborative partner. I put this down to my academic identity being formed in the discipline of anthropology where the “rite de passage” was years of field research alone in a remote village. This prepares the aspiring researcher for collaboration from a position of heightened ignorance, but not necessarily with academic peers with a common knowledge base. I also evidence deficiencies in two attributes essential to collaboration: time and discomfort with failure. Innovation demands the time to build teams, network, establish cross-sectoral relationships, generate and test ideas, fail, learn and start again, and to translate research findings and disseminate these to a range of audiences. It also requires the time for reflection and exercise of the imagination. Collaboration at its best generates this time and, at its best, offers a safe space to fail.
KNOWHOW + LOWITJA + CRCCARE
Reaching out to our Indigenous family across the world The purpose of the Lowitja Institute Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health CRC is to value the health and wellbeing of Australia’s First Peoples. As members of a global Indigenous family, we extend that purpose to our brothers and sisters across the world. With that in mind, two 2016 activities were key achievements: a collaboration with The Lancet – published in April by the prestigious medical journal under the title ‘Indigenous and Tribal peoples’ health (The Lancet–Lowitja Institute Global Collaboration): a population study’ – and our first international Indigenous health and wellbeing conference. The collaboration established a clear picture of Indigenous and Tribal health relative to benchmark populations. It included data on 28 Indigenous populations from 23 countries
covering approximately half the world’s 300 million Indigenous people. What was critical – and unique to this study – was the participation of 65 contributors who were able to identify, at country level, the best-quality data available. Contributors came from all the major global regions: Africa, Asia, the Americas, the Pacific and Arctic Circle. These regions of the world were also represented in our November conference when, underpinned by a strong cultural and scientific framework, more than 700 delegates met to celebrate, share and strengthen Indigenous knowledges. Over three days, the program included keynote addresses by national and international experts, sessions arranged around the themes of identity, knowledge and strength, and a conference statement asserting that Indigenous
peoples across the world have the right to self-determination, which, in turn underpins the right to health. Through this work, the Lowitja Institute CRC supports networks of knowledge and collaboration, engages with the 2030 Sustainability Goals to which Australia is a signatory, and connects us to the wider international community.
From far left: Romlie Mokak (CEO), Stephanie Clark (The Lancet), Pat Anderson AO (Chair), Professor Ian Anderson (The University of Melbourne). Photo: Fiona Hamilton Photography
Cleaning up toxic threats Professor Ravi Naidu deals in staggering numbers: five trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean; seven million premature deaths linked to air pollution; three new potential toxins a day from nearly 150,000 registered chemicals. The growing list of everyday dangers in our air, water, food and goods tempts you to bury your head in the ground – until you realise that almost one-fifth of China’s soil is contaminated and, more worryingly, less than 1% of the world’s five million potentially contaminated sites have been properly assessed or remediated. As CEO and managing director of CRC CARE (Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment) Naidu is confronting all this head-on. In Australia, he’s helping communities living
around some of the country’s 55,000 abandoned mines; working with firefighters on the chemical hazards that many flame-extinguishing foams contain; advising petroleum, mining and defence organisations on contaminants; and developing a harmonised national regulatory framework. But like pollutants, solutions need to cross borders. The CRC CARE team – which Naidu describes as “a mini United Nations” – works to build capacity in developing nations, too, training professionals who can build clean-up teams at home and beyond. At CleanUp India in December, CRC CARE launched the Indian node of its ambitious globalCARE Initiative – bringing together international scientists, regulators, industry and community
groups to share knowledge and find local environmental remedies. “The pace of remediation is not as fast as we would like,” says Naidu, who is also global innovation chair and director at the University of Newcastle’s Global Centre for Environmental Remediation. “According to a 2012 WHO report, nearly 13 million people died as a result of living or working in a polluted environment. Compare that figure to the estimated 1.5 million deaths that were directly caused by diabetes – a disease we hear about all the time. “We’re dealing with a massive problem, not just in Australia but globally, and unless we do something, it’s going to continue to kill people.” – Lauren Martin
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Leading in collaborative research and named the most collaborative Australian university in the Nature Index 2016, Curtin spearheads numerous cooperative research centres that directly benefit community and industry.
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UNIVERSITY OF NEWCASTLE
NECTAR, ANDS, RDS
Our researchers provide the foundation of innovation: creating the knowledge to drive business and the economy. The university welcomes CRC partnership opportunities. newcastle.edu.au/ research-and-innovation
We offer tools and services to support collaboration, compute, analysis, and data management. For further information and case studies, visit the following three websites:
DATA TO DECISIONS
The Data to Decisions CRC brings together researchers and industry to tackle the big data challenges that face Australia’s national security agencies, resulting in a safer and more secure nation.
The Energy Pipelines CRC is an industry focused group with the purpose of delivering safer, more efficient and reliable pipelines technologies for the Australian pipeline industry.
nectar.org.au; ands.org.au; rds.edu.au
UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE
UNIVERSITY OF TASMANIA
UNIVERSITY OF CANBERRA
UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Our researchers are creating new materials to capture sunlight wherever it falls. These new flexible solar cells could, in the future, cover roofs, windows, clothing, phones and cars. Just one of our worldchanging research projects.
We are in the top 50 universities worldwide for earth and marine sciences in the latest QS World University Rankings. Pursuit of research excellence and quality partnerships is making us a go-to institution for those interested in making a difference. utas.edu.au
The University of Canberra is committed to delivering research breakthroughs that help solve real-world problems and collaborates with national and international partners to produce broad-reach research both locally and globally.
Our researchers tackle issues to make the world a better place. UWA’s Science research improves society, save lives and protects our environment. This impact has benefits for Australia and the world.
DEFENCE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY GROUP DST Group delivers scientific advice and innovative technology for Australiaâ€™s defence and national security. It leads the Next Generation Technologies Fund, delivering game-changing defence capabilities in collaboration with industry and universities. dst.defence.gov.au
AARNet provides powerful national and international network infrastructure and collaboration services such as CloudStor, which enable seamless data access and movement between researchers and specialist instruments, tools and resources. aarnet.edu.au
At the University of South Australia we continue to forge strong partnerships with industry to deliver innovative and practical solutions to real world challenges. To find out more about how to be part of our collaborative research success, please visit unisa.edu.au Image, Nano-spaghetti by Dr Maria Alba-Martin, Research Associate, Future Industries Institute.
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Engaged research, inspired by excellence
NEXT BIG THING
Collaborate to learn, learn to collaborate
Tony Peacock While many academic/ industry partnerships have their ups and downs, they are usually just speed bumps on the road to success.
One of the most marked changes in science and innovation in Australia in recent years is the attitude to collaboration. As we hold Collaborate | Innovate | 2017, there doesn’t seem to be any argument or concern over the importance of collaboration. It’s one of those things that is so well accepted that it seems strange to even remember when the value of collaboration was questioned and even argued against. A decade ago, it was not uncommon to be virtually shunned in the scientific community for advocating a multidisciplinary approach to a problem or seeing industry as a partner to work with. The image of the lone scientist plugging away at a problem was often raised as the ideal way of doing science – if he or she was just left alone, well-funded, great things would happen. The turnaround in attitude has been marked. I’ve seen a presentation from a demographer
“It is in all our interests to learn more about the process of collaboration itself, so that we can continually improve.”
Tony Peacock is CEO of the Cooperative Research Centres Association and founder of KnowHow.
claiming that the fastest growing job in Australia is baristas. But I reckon Pro Vice-Chancellor Engagement, or some variation of that title, couldn’t be far behind. Universities and other research organisations have scrambled hard over the past few years to improve their level of interaction with industry. There doesn’t seem to be any resistance to the argument that Australia must improve its level of collaboration between the academic and industry sectors. 38
Winning the argument for more collaboration is only the first step. It doesn’t automatically follow that the resulting collaborations will be optimal, or even productive. Successful collaboration consists of getting a series of things right. Done right, collaboration means the whole adds up to more than the sum of the parts. Done poorly, it can be a mess. That’s why Collaborate | Innovate | 2017 doesn’t just hammer away on the need for collaboration. It concentrates on the skills needed for good, productive collaboration. Collaborators need to be trusted partners and that can take more time and more effort than people anticipate. Collaborators may not be ready at the same time, or there may be a big differential in power or culture. These are speed bumps, not barriers. The collaboration potential of an individual or organisation is not set in stone. It can, and does, change over time. It can be enhanced with experience, education and culture. Similarly, a dud policy can kill it off. It is in all our interests to learn more about the process of collaboration itself, so that we can continually improve. The Cooperative Research Centres Programme has more than a quarter of a century of experience in relatively large-scale, complex collaborations. The money is of course vital to enabling great collaborations to deliver brilliant results. But collaboration is much more than an ingredient in seeking funding – it is a key to unlocking great innovation, which will result in much greater rewards than any government funding program. Deciding to collaborate is important; learning to collaborate well is vital.
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Research commercialisation, science start-ups and genuine, productive collaboration nationally and overseas will be the cornerstones of Aust...
Published on May 22, 2017
Research commercialisation, science start-ups and genuine, productive collaboration nationally and overseas will be the cornerstones of Aust...