Friday, December 02, 2016

CSIRO ON Innovation Bootcamp report - Innovation thriving in the public sector

I was privileged to attend CSIRO's On Innovation Bootcamp on Wednesday and Thursday this week, a two day intensive for CSIRO, university and other government teams transitioning concepts from government scientific research towards becoming startup companies.

This was the third round for the ON programme, with approximately 80 teams having now gone through the process to some degree. It was my second ON bootcamp as a volunteer mentor.

Hosted at UTS in Sydney and facilitated by Pollenizer's Phil Morle and Tristonne Forbes, 8 CSIRO teams, 10 university teams and one from the Defence Science and Technology Group went through the bootcamp program.

They spent two days testing and validating their customer, product and market assumptions to confirm whether their concepts could truly make it as a commercial product in the global market, then pitched their new businesses to three judges with extensive startup capital experience, competing for ten places in the 12-week ON Accelerator program.

The teams were supported by about 25 volunteer mentors from a range of startup and corporate backgrounds, as well as CSIRO ON's staff.

Comparing this bootcamp with the last one I'd attended, this time the teams were more mature. Many had prototypes and had either tested their products or found their first customers. Several brought along product samples, or wore team t-shirts emphasising their spirit and focus.

This maturity made it only more intensive as the teams thought through their MASSIVE vision, developed their roadmaps to success and tested their value propositions against the needs of their potential customers.

During the bootcamp all of the teams went on a huge emotional rollercoaster. Some arrived with a clear vision of their product and markets, but found that their target customers didn't perceive the problem they were addressing, or weren't prepared to pay for a solution.

Other teams were still forming (one I worked with hadn't met before face-to-face), or still saw their concept as an interesting research project rather than as a compelling commercial offering, and had to rethink their roles, approach and language.

I witnessed several amazing breakthroughs where teams realised that their initial thinking needed some adjustment, and pivoted their product, market or customer target to increase its chance of market success.

At the end of the two days all the teams had made amazing progress, and gave stunning three minute pitches. I don't envy the decisions the judges will have to make.

I've included a series of tweets below from the pitches which highlights each team's area of focus. Frankly I could see 90% of them going on to become successful, either as a business or licensing their technologies, with a number having market maker potential for creating global change.

Remember that all of these are public sector innovations - government-funded science that has become potentially valuable technology with vast commercial potential.

The list below is in the order of the pitches.

Virtual Training - VR training for healthcare professionals and families incorporating AI

NutriThick - an intensively healthy drink made from Australian seaweed that counters vitamin deficiencies amongst older people

RadVet - a tested cancer treatment for pets, that has already been successful in humans

MICE - a secure image sharing service for Doctors, to accelerate treatment through providing information to specialists

Green and Gold - a genetic approach to activating the leaves of plants to produce renewable fuel oils, including aviation fuel

VitiApp - a decision support system, particularly for vineyards, that helps farmers and their consultants make better decisions and produce improved wines and crops

detectORE - a simple in-the-field testing solution for mining samples to accelerate decision making and save money

Going for Gold - a non-toxic gold extraction technology that replaced the cyanide currently in use and can also increase yields for smaller gold miners by 50%

DrapeMeasure - a disruptive patternmaking system that uses 3D mathematics to provide faster and more precise measurements of 3D shapes (such as people for clothes), that has applications across the fashion, building and design industries

LuciGem - who have developed stable nanoscale diamond and ruby probes to explore and understand live cellular environments

Passive Radar - a system using environmental radio sources to map objects, providing enhanced situational awareness for military forces without revealing their locations with active radar

Wildlife Drones - who have developed an enhanced animal tracking system six times faster and able to collect substantially more data than existing methods, with applications across wildlife research, agriculture and pest control

Feraliser - an indigenous-driven initiative which transforms feral pigs into fertiliser, providing regional jobs and improving environmental and social outcomes.

SensorCloud - a data integration and analysis service that can digitally transform the agricultural value chain, by equipping agronomists and farmers with integrated and improved intelligence for decision-making

Australian Silicon Photonics - a group that has developed a low heat and energy consumption solution for moving data within data centres, and eventually within devices, allowing our digital networks to grow enormously at much lower cost and impact

D-Tech IT - an automated fish identification system for tracking fishing catches at source to avoid catching the wrong species and increase the efficiency of fishery operation

IOkeeper - a cloud security system that allows individuals and organisations to encrypt all the data they place or transfer through the cloud, keeping it safe even when cloud providers are hacked

DentalAR - a training system for dentists that uses augmented reality to quickly upskill students and allow trained dentists to access vital new information in real time to improve patient outcomes.

Robotic finger orthosis - a 3D printed custom robot exoskeleton managed by a mobile phone or smart device that helps people to recover more rapidly and completely from hand injuries

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