SEMIP Innovation Showcase 2013

SEMIP Innovation Showcase 2013

Last week I attended the SEMIP Innovation Showcase at the Hemisphere Conference Centre. This annual showcase is for local technology researchers and developers.

 

Kees Eijkel

 

Kees Eijkel of Kennispark

Kees Eijkel of Kennispark

Kees Eijkel led off with a description of how Kennispark in The Netherlands had fostered cooperation between entrepreneurs, financiers, researchers and industry. It is a 30 year process so far and has shown considerable gains. The key in part to this success is based on a simple approach to evaluating opportunities:

 

  • focus on the business case
  • decided on a case by case basis and not on a technology focus
  • ideas can come from anywhere, so foster widespread collaboration
  • deal fairly with IP
  • create an environment to leverage talent, investment dollars and facilities
  • measure success by how many jobs are created

 

He also had some advice for us in Australia where we are just starting on this journey:

 

  • Public Research Organisations are ready to collaborate, but inexperienced at it
  • Industry recognises the need
  • Government is looking for good ideas
  • We have the STC which could act as the primary cluster to build around

 

STC - Small Technologies Cluster

STC – Small Technologies Cluster

 

And if you haven’t already checked it out, the Australian Synchrotron is an amazing piece of technology. They have regular open days so take advantage of one. I did.

 

The Valley of Death

Next we had a session looking at the funding problem known as “The Valley of Death“. This is the gap in between publicly funded basic research or a private invention stage of technology development, and the successful launch of a market ready product.

 

The Valley Of Death - funding the gap

The Valley Of Death – funding the gap

We had input from Kim Walker of Capstone Partners, Peter Lewis of Hydrix and Bill Matthews of Dulux who shared their experiences in addressing this fundamental problem. The core issues are:

 

  • inventors and startups have minimal investment funds
  • public funds usually only cover basic research
  • venture capital funds and marketers want a market ready product before they will provide funding

 

What this usually means is that up to 90% of the funding isn’t available until the product is ready for market. This is the funding needed to get it to that point. It is a classic catch 22.

 

So how do you fill the void?

 

The best options presented were:

 

  • a license or trade sale to the natural owner of the technology is the best option
  • pre-sale agreement from a party who wants to sell the product when it is ready
  • ensure the voice of the market is clear and compelling from the beginning

 

Researchers In Business

We then had 2 case studies showing successful examples of the CSIRO Researcher In Business program. This is where a researcher directly focuses on a specific industry challenge with a specific client, often operating within their business. The 2 examples were:

 

 

Michael Egin of the CSIRO then rounded out the session with his view of how the program works.

 

Chief Scientist of Australia

The keynote address was given by Prof. Ian Chubb, Chief Scientist of Australia.

 

Prof. Ian Chubb - Chief Scientist of Australia

Prof. Ian Chubb

He took us through a history of Australia and our slow progress toward scientific and entrepreneurial self-sufficiency. His primary point was that unless we chose to collaborate and cooperate and move beyond the current chasm between academic researchers and private industry operators then we would not be able to progress toward a truly modern economy.

 

His point closely mirrored the observations by Kees Eijkel that it is only by fostering this collaboration that we can create the jobs and opportunities needed for a vibrant economy.

 

I’m already convinced. The trick is how to get the ball rolling. I have already had one excellent insight into the problem and one of the main roadblocks. I share that when I’ve got my thoughts fully together.

 

SEMIP stands for the South East Melbourne Innovation Precinct.

 

SEMIP

SEMIP

Also check out the 2012 SEMIP Inovation Showcase.

 

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for nearly 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2013 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd

Australian Synchrotron

Australian Synchrotron

I went to the open day for the Australian Synchrotron at the Monash Science Park on Sunday. As a member of SEMIP I already knew about the Australian Synchrotron but had never actually visited it. I am very glad I did.

 

Australian Synchrotron

Australian Synchrotron

On the open day I went to 2 sessions. The first was titled “Synchrotrons for Dummies” which was very well presented and gave a good overview of the Australian Synchrotron but more importantly, gave excellent examples of how it is used and what it can be used for. Here is a short list from one of their brochures, by no means exhaustive:

 

  • Improving fertility
  • Examining forensic evidence
  • Helping premature babies breathe without getting lung damage
  • Improving energy storage
  • Improving industrial processes
  • Nano-scale material science
  • Improving cement

 

The Australian Synchrotron uses very high energy electrons to create electromagnetic radiation that can be used to either select specific frequencies for analysing, or for getting access to much higher energy or finer resolution imaging. It runs 24 hours a day when in operation and multiple experiments can be run at the same time on what they refer to as Beamlines. Each Beamline can run in parallel with the others as they are independent. The higher energy allows better penetration and the finer resolution which means you can go down to features comparable to a single molecule. So you can think of it as either:

 

  • A very bright light (1 million time brighter than the sun before you filter it back to what you want)
  • A very high resolution microscope
  • A very high resolution and finely tuned X-Ray imaging system

 

The Australian Synchrotron website has an excellent set of explanations including How the Synchrotron Works.

 

Synchrotron Science

The second session was on Synchrotron Science and included a detailed guided tour through the entire complex starting from the electron gun where the initial 90KeV electrons are generated then into the booster ring where the energy is kicked up by a factor of over 30,000 and finally through to the main storage ring where they are circulating at 3GeV energy and as close to the speed of light as we know how to make them. In fact, they are going so fast that adding more energy makes them heavier just as Einstein predicted. The energy and the equipment involved are staggering. I was reading the individual steering magnet ratings and they are water cooled 6KW devices. And there are hundreds of them, all colour coded according to their specific function.

 

Australian Synchrotron Science

Australian Synchrotron Science

The guided tour included both a detailed up close view of the equipment and also a trip over the top to see the complex from above. The entire device is the size of a football oval.

 

Australian Synchrotron Science Valves

Australian Synchrotron Science Valves

Beam Time

And the commercial arrangements are very attractive. If you have a great idea for a project and it meets the selection criteria, it costs you nothing. If not, you can rent Beam Time as they call it for $400 per hour and usually get a slot within 8 weeks. Given that this is a $300M device, that is an absolute bargain.

 

Australian Synchrotron Open Day

Australian Synchrotron Open Day

 

Now I am thinking about what my clients might be able to do with this amazing facility.

 

Successful Endeavours specialise in Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development. Ray Keefe has developed market leading electronics products in Australia for nearly 30 years. This post is Copyright © 2011 Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd