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Over $250,000 awarded to research ideas in food production, wastage and data transmission

CSIRO’s ON and the Menzies Foundation have awarded three Australian scientists with more than a quarter of a million dollars to commercialise their research ideas in food production, wastage and data transmission.

ON is Australia’s national science and technology accelerator program, powered by CSIRO.

The scientists were awarded the funding through the 2019 Menzies Science Entrepreneurship Fellowship on September 11.

Established to support the nation’s most talented science entrepreneurs in the early stages of commercialisation, the Fellowship awards recipients with $90,000 to fully dedicate themselves towards their new venture and focus on making their enterprise goals a commercial reality.

The recipients of the 2019 Menzies Science Entrepreneurship Fellowships are:

  • Dr Melony Sellars, a global shrimp expert and co-founder of Genics, a start-up securing global food production through smart pathogen detection and breeding selection. Sellars and her team are working on solving real-world problems through developing and applying novel biotech solutions to revolutionise today’s farming practices to deliver global food security for the future. The company is currently conducting trials around the world.
  • Dr Simon Gross, a leading optics and telecommunications expert and CTO of Modular Photonics. This start-up manufactures a series of glass chip micro devices that significantly increases data transmission rates. Gross and his team’s award-winning technology offers solutions for upgrading and future-proofing legacy multimode fibre networks.
  • Dr Jinghua Fang, a materials scientist and founder of AloxiTec. Forty-five per cent of fresh produce is wasted every year, resulting in a significant cost across the value chain, especially in Australia’s export market. Fang is hoping to reduce this wastage, creating specialised packaging to extend shelf life and improve the freshness of fresh produce without refrigeration and chemical contamination.

CSIRO ON program executive manager, David Burt, said at ON, the team believes that every sector of society – from philanthropy to academia and government – has a crucial role to play in supporting science, research and innovation in Australia.

“This Fellowship program is an example of our deep commitment to unearthing research in science and steering it towards commercialisation. Each recipient was chosen based on their entrepreneurial capacity and the immense potential of their ideas.  I look forward to following the journey of these incredible scientists as they shape the future for Australia and the world,” Burt said.

Menzies Foundation CEO, Liz Gillies, said the foundation believes philanthropy can play a unique role in sparking discovery and innovation in Australia.

“We are passionate about investing in our country’s future science leaders and giving them the runway to ensure that their research has an impact in the world.  We look forward to sharing their entrepreneurial journey,” Gillies said.

2019 ON Impact Awards winners announced 

CSIRO’s ON has also announced the winners of this year’s Impact Awards. The inaugural awards celebrate the diversity of the program’s alumni and recognise the value they create for Australia and the world through their innovations.

The full list of categories and winners are:

  • Social Innovation: RapidAIM (award sponsored by Hitachi) – real-time information of insect pest detection in your orchards and farms;
  • Future Industries: Bee Innovative (award sponsored by Austrade) – a radar-like sensor for bees which is able to identify, track and report bee pollination activity across the orchard and field in near real-time;
  • Securing our Future: Genics (award sponsored by AusIndustry) – securing global food production through smart pathogen detection and breeding selection in prawns;
  • Jobs & Growth: Emesent (award sponsored by Curious Thing) – drones that use Hovermap technology to automate the collection and analysis of critical data in challenging underground environments;
  • Health & Wellbeing: Noisy Guts (award sponsored by McR) – acoustic belt that records gut noises over time so doctors can accurately screen and diagnose gut disorders;
  • Sustainable Energy and Resources: Diffuse Energy (award sponsored by Singularity University) – renewable technologies that will enable a shift to a more self-sufficient energy model for anyone wanting energy equality; and
  • People’s Choice:Silentium Defence — passive radar technology that will allow Defence Forces to maintain their situational awareness without advertising their presence.