ON accelerates innovation for Australia

A solar forecasting system, a tool for preventing faults in power networks before energy catastrophes hit, and a small wind turbine that can produce nearly twice the power of existing wind turbines, are just three of the innovations to be fast-tracked through the national sci-tech accelerator, ON, powered by CSIRO.  Planning is also underway to accelerate innovation at Ginninderra.

Ten teams announced in December have been selected for the latest round of ON Accelerate, a structured, full-time accelerator that brings together the experience and expertise of established researchers, entrepreneurs and inspiring mentors.

Following a competitive two-day boot camp, the teams from the University of Newcastle, Flinders University, Macquarie University, The University of Western Australia, James Cook University and CSIRO were selected for ON Accelerate4 commencing in February 2018.

ON Accelerate4 will run for 12 weeks in hubs across the country, where teams will develop business planning, commercialisation and pitching skills. The program culminates in ‘ON Demo Night’ where teams pitch their innovations to an audience of industry experts, investors and potential partners in funding and commercialisation.

The 10 big ideas to be fast-tracked through ON Accelerate:

CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall said that ON had uncovered science and technology solutions for some of Australia’s biggest challenges in energy, food and agriculture, water quality, wildlife conservation and health.

“Establishing ON was about bringing the Australian research sector closer to Australian industry – creating a pathway to help our scientists turn their excellent science into real-world solutions,” Dr Marshall said.

“The program is built on the shoulders of scientists who have made the leap into business, and likewise business people who have leapt into the world of science.

“Bridging the gap between science and business, ON delivers in a similar way to the prestigious US I-Corps program, which is probably the most successful accelerator in the world.

In the 18 months since CSIRO opened the ON accelerator to universities and publicly funded research agencies under the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA), it has graduated 200 teams of researchers with the business and entrepreneurial skills needed to fast-track great science and technology innovation from the lab to reality.

“The key advantage of ON is that it is backed by the national science agency, and almost every university has jumped in with us to support ON.  “This collaboration across the innovation system is allowing us to deliver game-changing innovations for Australia and the world.”

As CSIRO develops its science plan for Ginninderra, it is drawing on collaborations across the innovation system as well as this national expertise in accelerating ideas into new technologies and solutions.


Ginninderra Project 2017: A year in review

The vision to transform our Ginninderra research property into a showcase of sustainable urban living gathered momentum, with steady progress throughout 2017.  Some of the key highlights of the year were:

Community involvement

The enthusiasm and commitment of the many volunteers of all ages who took part in our community shrub planting days was a memorable highlight. Not only did these volunteers plant thousands of shrubs back into the Box Gum Woodlands but they also became some of the first ‘citizen scientists’ helping to ‘bring the birds back’ and boost the ecological health of our urban environment.

This couldn’t have happened without our partnership with the Ginninderra Catchment Group and many other supporting groups, including the Mulanggang Traditional Aboriginal Landcare Group with whom we celebrated NAIDOC Week by learning about the rich cultural landscape in the Ginninderra area. The Heritage Interpretation Walk, led by Ngunnawal custodian Wally Bell, presented a great opportunity to discover the Aboriginal heritage and cultural values of the site.

Our broader engagement with the community continued through the year through meetings with, and presentations to, various interest groups and community councils.

Planning and creating cities of the future

In 2017, CSIRO and the Ginninderra Team have been bringing together the science expertise and innovation that will contribute to Ginninderra and other Urban Living Lab initiatives that CSIRO is establishing, under a future cities vision. CSIRO and collaborator, Celestino, announced the first Urban Living Lab will be established at the Sydney Science Park, as a ‘real world’ development in which our science and innovation will be applied to city design and delivery. The aim is to create more sustainable, resilient cities, with Ginninderra anticipated to be a key Urban Living Lab.

Throughout the year our project website has showcased some of the science that we can bring to the venture, from water sensitive urban design, Little Eagle and ecological research, energy fingerprinting, city infrastructure mapping, hydrogen as a fuel source, Indigenous heritage, affordable housing and community attitudes to building features and urban growth.

Building the Ginninderra team

While the multi-stage process to select a suitable development partner has continued throughout 2017, we have been busy setting up the science and business leadership to successfully manage the initiative.

Over the course of the year we’ve introduced Executive Science Lead, Dr Anita Hill and many of the other key scientists and managers who are overseeing and guiding the project for CSIRO. As with other projects of this scale, CSIRO is applying a rigorous management and governance process for the Ginninderra initiative.

As we move into 2018, we look forward to continuing the procurement process to select a development partner, with an announcement expected to be made in mid-2018.

In the meantime, we’d like to wish you a very happy festive season.

Synergy showcases science for a brighter future

In opening its new $100m Synergy research facility in Canberra on 1 December, CSIRO showcased science, innovation and collaborations that will help it tackle future challenges and opportunities, including future cities and the Ginninderra initiative.

In his address to gathered VIPs, stakeholders and collaborators at the Synergy opening, CSIRO Chief Executive, Dr Larry Marshall said: “Synergy is the embodiment of the word. It’s many branches of science collaborating together and it’s, in a sense, a precursor vision of CSIRO’s future.”

The Synergy Building features 15,000 square metres of modern lab and office accommodation housing 500 scientists focused on areas including future crops, natural resources, climate science and data or digital solutions.

As part of the official opening, VIPs also took part in an introductory tour of Synergy’s world leading cotton labs. Ngambri custodian Paul House delivered a formal welcome to country and led a ‘smoking’ ceremony with guests.

While reflecting on CSIRO’s distinguished 90-year history in Canberra and the significant breakthroughs in agricultural and environmental sciences, Dr Marshall and Board Chair David Thodey both pointed to an exciting future.

“The purpose of this building is about what we’re going to do in the future,” said Mr Thodey.  “It’s about new research capability using the power of Data 61, our great agricultural team, working with Land and Water, Oceans and Atmosphere, and how we bring all this capability together.”

“It is like opening a whole new chapter in our relationship in the ACT,” Dr Marshall said.

“We’ve been here for 90 years and every year we’ve stepped higher in terms of the amazing value and solutions that we’ve delivered. Synergy really is a vision of a much brighter future for our organisation.”

Enhanced collaboration is a pivotal part of that brighter future.

“CSIRO is more collaborative today than we’ve ever been in our history and that will only increase.”

“At a city level, our Future Cities initiative is going to really put Ginninderra on the map – literally in the national, even global spotlight – because it brings together expertise in energy, in water, in environment, in materials, in digital, in urban design and in health and in social sciences.

“This could be one of the largest, multidisciplinary science projects ever to be undertaken in this country to create true cities of the future.”

As part of the opening event, CSIRO and key collaborators held the CSIRO+ showcase of science and innovation from across various business units and areas of science.

“All of this is possible because your national science agency is embracing the opportunities and the disruption,” Dr Marshall said.

“We’re directing the full armoury of our 100-year old organisation to turn Australia’s challenges into Australia’s advantages.”