Innovative program helps turn researchers into award winning entrepreneurs

Research staff from Murdoch University have enhanced their commercial and industry engagement thanks to a demanding entrepreneurial program.

Dr Sofie De Meyer is one of the winners in the Start Something competition

Dr Sofie De Meyer is one of the winners in the Start Something competition

The first Murdoch University cohort have emerged from the Start Something training program with new found skills, knowledge, industry links and a host of awards.

Agricultural science researcher Dr Sofie De Meyer said the Start Something program was important in helping researchers translate between the language of the academic and business and enhanced industry connectivity.

“With increasing difficulty to get funding from state government grants, it’s good to move towards more industry focused research,” Dr De Meyer said.

“That’s why it’s absolutely important to continue to translate our research or ideas into industry fundable projects, which will hopefully lead to more money for future projects.”

Start Something brought together a number of industry experts to which researchers could hone their business pitch ideas. Researchers then braved a panel of industry leaders, plus a room of experts from varying sectors to sell their commercial business model.

Dr De Meyer was among the many winners, receiving an award for her MALDIID idea, which is a root nodule identifier for farmers and institutes. She said her research team benefited from using the knowledge and skills acquired through the program.

“We officially started the MALDIID service a couple of weeks ago,” she added.

“With MALDIID we can't change the climate but we can tell whether the best rhizobia strain is housed within the legume root nodule.”

Innovation Cluster Founder Peter Rossdeutscher said: “The goal of Start Something is to connect industry and research whilst stimulating and guiding first steps for as many researchers as possible.  This will create the robust network of pathways and linkages needed to accelerate broad commercialisation of the State’s world class research.”

David Flanagan, Murdoch University Chancellor, was one of the judging panel and said Murdoch was delighted to be working with incubation experts Atomic Sky and Innovation Cluster on the entrepreneurial program.

Start Something is an exciting initiative and an important component in broadening the commercialisation of the University’s world-class research,” he said.

Prizes for Start Something at Murdoch included entrepreneurship program scholarships, mentoring for commercialisation progress thanks to Atomic Sky, CSA Global, CISCO, Studio StartUp, Curtin Ignition, Murdoch University and CERI.

The cohort also received start-up community membership via the TechHub entrepreneurship program.

The full list of Murdoch Start Something award winners are below:

Start Something CSIRO Commercialisation Award :Dr Rakesh Veedu (Nanoweb-DNA amplification)

Start Something Atomic Sky Innovation Prize: Dr Sofie De Meyer (MALDI ID; root nodule bacteria identification)

Start Something Social Impact Prize: Ashleigh Roberts (Industry engagement in the PhD)

Start Something Entrepreneurship CERI Prize: Dr Ravi Brundavanam (Dental Decay; Nano-Macro ceramic toothpaste)

Start Something in Minerals Prize: Dr Aleks Nikoloski (Catalytic Anodes for Oxygen evolution)

Start Something in Minerals Prize: Dr Manjree Agarwal (Fresh and processed cheese from Australian sweet lupin milk)

UWA Researchers Accelerate Sci-Tech Innovation with Innovation Cluster and Start Something

Start Something AgriStart Prize Winner (photo byJames Campbell Photography)

Start Something AgriStart Prize Winner (photo byJames Campbell Photography)

The Start Something from Research commercialisation accelerator at the University of Western Australia closed last week with four of the outstanding projects winning innovation awards

This cohort included 22 cross-faculty researchers comprising staff researchers, professors and PhD's. Through the sci-tech accelerator they worked through impact commercialisation of their research in Mining and Energy, Medicine and MedTech, Food and Agriculture, Digital and Data.

Impact research projects that won through to final presentation day included;

  • sulphur detection to optimise mineral exploration
  • implantable infra red LED to treat spinal cord repair
  • managing chronic illness through machine learning
  • virtual reality apps for plant cell education in schools
  • terahertz spectroscopy and imaging software platform
  • urban design for improved mental health
  • early detection of pancreatic cancer from circulating blood DNA 

Start Something is Innovation Cluster’s foundation program leading Australian science, research and technology researchers into commercialisation with entrepreneurial skills and mindsets. Working with Atomic Sky it drives collaboration between world-class researchers, businesses and entrepreneurs. To date the program has trained >400 researchers, accelerated 138, generated 35+ spinouts or progressions in Western Australia alone. Collaboration centric, 72 industry experts have been involved. Start Something

Pitch day judges were 2016 Western Australian of the Year Finalist and President of RSPCA WA and Bradshaw Muir Lynne Bradshaw, AgriStart Founder Tash Ayers, Boston Consluting Group's Shannon Ziegelaar, CSIRO ON Facilitator Ian Brown, METS Ignited State Manager Peter Clarke, Peter Rossdeutscher of Director of Atomic Sky.

Judging considered presentation, innovation, impact potential and customer centricity. Prizes were from Atomic Sky, TechHub, AgriStart and UWA. The winners;

  • Start Something Future Leader Award; Chris Bartley, UWA Faculty of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences
  • Start Something Research Impact Award; Dr Anthony Fitzgerald, UWA Faculty of Physics and Astrophysics
  • Start Something Commercial Innovation Award; Dr Yuliya Karpievitch, Perkins Institute of Medical Research
  • AgriStart Innovation Award; Karina Price; ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology
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“The Start Something program helped in leaps and bounds with our Virtual Plant Cell project. It encouraged me to think about the project in a different and more productive way, and through it I’ve made valuable connections and dissected out what I truly need to do to move the product forward. I’m very excited about the future of our project and implementing the skills I learned through Start Something”.  Karina Price; ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology

"We are working on software for the global terahertz research market but we weren't sure where to start commercialising. Start Something, and the mentoring it provided, helped clarify our value proposition and provide clearer direction. I'm really grateful for the opportunities that came from our Start Something participation, it was a great boost to get us out of the lab and on the way to validating our software package." Dr Anthony Fitzgerald, UWA Faculty of Physics and Astrophysics

An update on the many methods the University employs to convert world class research into impact outcomes was provided by Mark Stickells, Director of Innovation and Business Development at The University of Western Australia. One of those being this program, “Start Something shifts the dial for researchers and supports their efforts to engage with industry and new markets. The program increases the quality and flow of ideas to market and delivers real value to the communities we serve.”

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Innovation Cluster is a privately-owned, strategic consultancy firm helping deliver impact commercialisation and skills programs to companies, research organisations and government. Email

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