Innovations receive commercialisation funding boost

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Five teams of innovative researchers are a step closer to taking their projects from "bench to business", thanks to an injection of commercialisation funding announced by the University of Adelaide.

The teams have each been awarded funds from the University's Commercial Accelerator Scheme, which supports projects that could result in significant economic, environmental, social or cultural benefits.

Now in its tenth year, the Commercial Accelerator Scheme has so far awarded more than $3 million across 35 projects from a wide range of research fields, including medicine and health sciences, photonics, computer science, engineering, agriculture and biotechnology.

"As a leader in research commercialisation in South Australia, the University of Adelaide is committed to supporting our researchers in making that all-important transition from lab bench to business," says Kiara Bechta-Metti, Director of University of Adelaide Enterprise, which accelerates innovation and commercialisation of research at the University.

"The Commercial Accelerator Scheme ensures that researchers receive the encouragement, guidance and financial support they need, taking their work to the point where it could be picked up by a commercial partner or licensee, and helping to attract further commercial investment.

"Our work directly feeds into the innovation agendas of the state and federal governments, and helps to ensure that local expertise is contributing towards our economy and our society," Ms Bechta-Metti says.

At a ceremony at the National Wine Centre last night, teams of researchers pitched their work to the audience, demonstrating the potential impact of each innovation.

The five winning teams were chosen by an external panel of commercialisation experts, based on each project's real-world application:

Smart needles for safer and more effective brain surgery
$80,000 awarded to Professor Rob McLaughlin (Adelaide School of Medicine and ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP))
A novel miniaturised imaging probe, so small that it can be encased within a hypodermic needle for use in neurosurgery, enables safer and more effective brain biopsies. Having already progressed this product to initial human in vivo studies, this high-tech medical device is ready to go through the regulatory pathways. If commercialised, it could service an estimated $200m market, creating new employment opportunities in South Australia, and better neurosurgery outcomes globally.

Repurposed drug for the treatment of coronary slow flow phenomenon
$87,000 awarded to Professor John Beltrame (Adelaide School of Medicine)
Patients with signs of coronary slow flow phenomenon (or CSFP) experience frequent and recurrent chest pains, causing major impairment of quality of life and high healthcare resource utilisation. The investigators have proposed a new study using an existing but repurposed drug, in the hopes of reducing the symptoms of CSFP.

Intelligent infrared vision sensors
$64,000 awarded to Associate Professor Martin O’Connor (School of Physical Sciences)
This technology integrates the see through capabilities of short wave infrared sensors with emerging big data analytics and machine learning algorithms. The result is object recognition and obstacle avoidance capabilities, to transform awareness into understanding, adding context and insight for application in the battlefield and beyond.

Cancer cell detector
$80,000 awarded to Dr Erik Schartner (School of Physical Sciences and ARC Centre of Excellence for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP))
With 15-20% of breast cancer surgery patients requiring additional surgery to further remove tumorous tissue, there is a need for improved surgical practices that can also provide enhanced cosmetic outcomes. This technology offers a novel detection tool using optical fibre sensors that will differentiate between cancerous and normal tissues based on pH levels, to provide specific, real-time information to surgeons.

Introducing a new molecule in culture media to improve the success of human IVF
$65,000 awarded to Associate Professor Mark Nottle (Paediatrics & Reproductive Health, Robinson Research Institute)
It is well known that the demand for human IVF is increasing, however success rates in the industry remain low (with only about 20% of treatments resulting in a live baby). This project proposes to introduce a known and naturally occurring molecule to in vitro maturation media, to replicate the in vivo environment, and enhance the effectiveness of the overall human IVF process.

For further information about commercialisation at the University of Adelaide, visit:


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