A drone company spun out of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has collected AU$3.5 million in a funding round led by the CSIRO Innovation Fund, and joined by mining executive Andy Greig. Emesent will use the cash to commercialise its Hovermap product, which uses a drone and lidar to autonomously create 3D maps for underground areas, and grow its staff to 25 people. "Hovermap enables the mining industry to safely inspect inaccessible areas of underground mines while improving the type and quality of data collected to unlock new insights," Dr Stefan Hrabar, co-founder and CEO of Emesent, said. "The data we gather improves a mine's productivity and provides a better understanding of conditions underground, all without sending surveyors and miners into potentially hazardous areas." Hovermap is already used in Australia, the United States, Canada, China, and Japan, and last year completed a beyond line-of-sight drone flight in a mine 600 metres below the surface in Western Australia.
It should be common sense, and not bear repeating, but faced with the prospect of senators concerned that Australia's supply of startups is disappearing, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) CEO Dr Larry Marshall has dropped a dose of reality: Companies commercialising actual science are better for Australia than your latest Snapchat clone. "I think there is a bit of a misconception on what a startup is these days, because startups are just SMEs after the media has lost attention, once they become real companies," Marshall told Senate Estimates on Thursday night. "In CSIRO, we do digital innovation, but we also do deep science innovation, things people generally don't think of as tech or innovative, but they are. Things like cotton, we are actually developing, believe it or not, a cotton that doesn't need to be ironed, that competes with the properties of synthetics." Marshall said science is a wellspring for startups, but, because it's outside the realms of digital technology and the internet, is viewed differently.
In Australia, a bold, and potentially damaging experiment is playing out to see what happens when a former venture capitalist with no scientific experience takes over a top science research agency. After facing an intense domestic and international backlash, the Australian government is scaling back a plan to make deep cuts to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), the country's premiere science research organization, and instead save a sliver of its climate research capabilities. Those cuts, critics have argued, would have decimated its world class climate science research units. SEE ALSO: Nearly 3,000 climate scientists condemn Australia's dramatic research cuts However, the new plan, which involves setting up a new national climate center in Hobart, Tasmania, is not earning much praise either. Larry Marshall, the CSIRO director who has previously worked as the managing director of Southern Cross Ventures, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm, is still planning to get rid of about 75 climate science-related positions as part of a restructuring aimed at turning the CSIRO into an agency geared toward conducting research that will have the potential to bring in outside money from the private sector.
The Turnbull government and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) on Sunday launched a AU$200 million fund, as part of its National Innovation and Science Agenda, to commercialise early-stage innovations from CSIRO, universities, and other publicly-funded research bodies. While Australia is above the OECD average when it comes to publishing academic papers, it lags behind in converting innovation into jobs and income. The CSIRO Innovation Fund will help address this by supporting co-investment in new spin-out and startup companies, as well as small to medium enterprises (SMEs) looking to transform publicly-funded research into commercial products. The fund will be headed up by veteran venture capitalist and co-founder of Blackbird Ventures Bill Bartee. The government will inject AU$70 million into the joint public-private sector fund over the next 10 years, alongside AU$30 million of royalties from the CSIRO's Wi-Fi patent portfolio, and an additional AU$100 million from the private sector, which Bartee will be in charge of obtaining.
Australia has a new program of missions aimed at solving some of the country's challenges so it can emerge from COVID-19 in a resilient way The plan, known as Team Australia, will be comprised of large scale, major scientific, and collaborative research initiatives. It will be led by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). Speaking at the National Press Club on Wednesday, CSIRO chief executive Dr Larry Marshall said the nation has the opportunity to rally research, industry, and community around a new mission enabled by science, one he said that is a "mission of recovery and resilience". "This generation is living through a perfect storm of bushfires, pandemic, and recession," Marshall said. "Never in our lifetime has a country -- or the world -- turned to scientists in the way they are now. "Science has the unique and wonderful ability to unite people around a mission to achieve things that were once thought impossible." CSIRO will commit at least AU$100 million annually to the co-creation of missions under the plan. Marshall asked for partners to join the "Team Australia approach to solve our seemingly unsolvable challenges". "Each mission represents a major scientific research program aimed at making significant breakthroughs, not unlike solving Prickly Pear, curing the rabbit plague, inventing the first flu treatment, or creating fast Wi-Fi," he said. "But let me stress, these are not just CSIRO's missions.