Patricia Kelly:

Thank you very much Minister.  And we do have a very interesting second speaker this morning.  I’m very grateful to Alastair Hick who’s going to speak to us.  Alastair is the Chair of Knowledge Commercialisation Australasia and he’s also Director of Monash Innovation at Monash University. 

After ten years as a research scientist in the U.K Alastair moved to work on the commercialisation of technologies form universities and the research sector in the late 90’s.  As Chair of Knowledge Commercialisation Australasia Alastair works to promote connections for knowledge commercialisation and exchange between public sector research organisations, business and government.  Alastair’s current work with KCA and Monash gives him an excellent perspective on research commercialisation and the need to remove barriers to greater business researcher collaborations.  So can you please join me in welcoming Alastair Hick.

[Audience applause]

Alastair Hick:

So thank you Patricia and thank you Minister Roy.  I’ve been lucky enough to have been commercialising research from universities and public sector research organisations around the world for over 15 year.  When I first started we used to send out letters with bits of paper in to people and what we’re seeing today is we’re finally getting into the digital age and trying to make that whole process so much better. 

Finding partners for the very specific technologies that come out of our public sector research is hard.  Each piece of that research is world leading but it is very, very unique.  It’s often hard to find the perfect fit.  And so through SourceIP we’ve got a real opportunity to actually get that IP in front of a much broader audience than we’re able to do at present. 

Looking in the Australian context we’ve got a very specific industry structure here in Australia and that to some extent makes it harder.  We’ve got a limited number of really large research intensive businesses.  We need new mechanisms to find partners for the SMEs, the ones who are actually innovative.  They are interested in the type of research that goes on at public sector research organisations like our universities, our medical research institutes, CSIRO etcetera.  But it’s hard for them to find what’s actually going on at present.  Even if they do know where to look on our websites, and I have to say that’s not always easy, it’s hard for them to actually find the information they need.  And why would they want to look through 20 plus universities, ten MRIs and a couple of other, you know CSIRO etcetera, etcetera, it takes a lot of time and effort.  So I think this is a real step forward in putting all that information in one place. 

I’m just going to give a little example of a collaboration for Monash that’s going really successfully.  So a local company out near the main Monash campus out in Clayton called Hemokinesis, they do blood typing, develop blood typing technologies.  One of our researchers, one of our research teams had come up with some innovative new ways of doing diagnostics on paper so you could, rather than having complex diagnostic, you know PCR kits and labs and stuff you can actually do blood typing by putting a drop of blood on a piece of paper and it reads out a result.  So you put your drop of blood on a bit of a paper and it tells you that you’re A+ or whatever. 

That company actually found our researchers just through luck and went on, is just launching a product this year to offer blood typing technologies on, basically it’s a very simple diagnostic on a piece of paper.  They’ve had interest globally but how did they find the Monash researcher, they just happened to be local to us and happened to find us, it was reliant on luck.  We can’t rely on luck for all our, making all our opportunities successful. 

So how much easier would it have been if they’d been able to search on something like SourceIP, hunting around for diagnostics, blood typing, whatever they were interested in. What would have happened if that company had been based in Sydney?  They’d have probably never found us, that technology would have sat on the shelf and it wouldn't be developed, it wouldn’t be a product that’s launching today.  And so the more mechanisms we’ve got to get our technologies out there and get the industry partners more aware the better it’s going to be for all of us.

Just a couple of things to say to the SourceIP team.  It’s been really, I’ve been very impressed with the way they’ve worked.  It’s been, one of the things when I first heard about it I thought oh no not another portal to access IP, this is never going to work.  I’ve been doing this for 15 plus years so I’ve been through a few of these.  And they said no, no, no we’re going to get everything up there for you, take it all out of our database, all you’ve got to do is provide some fairly short summaries.  And I thought yeah we’ll see if this works.  And it does.  And that’s what’s really impressed me, they have made it work, they’ve made it efficient and effective.  Because if they hadn’t done that I can say that we wouldn’t be able to get it to work.  So I’ve been really impressed with the team, with the product that’s been developed.  And as we’ve heard today it is the first step. 

So there’s a few things I just wanted to finish off on, is how to make this successful.  We’ve got a nice, we’ve got a great product that’s launching today but how do we make it really successful?  A few comments, as we discussed this is effectively an online marketplace we need to balance the buyers and sellers.  So for the public sector research organisations and universities in the audience we need to put the effort in, we need to make sure that we put the quality information up there that makes it the place to go to to find IP coming out of Australia. 

Publicity, this is for everybody in the room, if people don’t know about this, they don’t know about SourceIP, they will not look.  So we’ve got to get some publicity, get some marketing, make sure that people know about it.  All the stakeholders are responsible for that.  Yes I’m sure IPAustralia have got, and I know they’ve got some marketing plans for it, but we’re all responsible because we all will benefit if we make this successful. So as I say we’ve got to, you know this is the first step, the hard work starts now to make what’s a good platform into a successful product. 

And then to anyone from industry either in the audience, who you meet too, we’re going to need feedback about SourceIP, what do you want to see, what information is there that you don’t really care about or what are we not telling you.  Because if you don’t tell us that then we can’t improve the quality.  So we need all of us to come to the table and be involved in that partnership to actually improve what’s already a great product to make it into something that's going to be successful and here for the next, you now til the next sort of revolution in the digital space how we can do that. 

So just to finish off thank you to IPAustralia and thank you to the Minister, this is a great initiative, I’m really pleased to be up here because I think this gives us an opportunity to actually start engaging much better with a whole lot of those innovative SMEs that are out there in Australia that can take some of the innovation that’s going on in our PSROs(?) and successfully commercialise it.  So thank you.

[Audience applause]

Patricia Kelly:

Thank you very much Alastair.  In concluding I’d like to thank Assistant Minister Roy and Alastair Hick for their contribution to the launch of SourceIP.  I’d also like to particularly thank Rob Bollard, Matt Fenech and Rebecca Hinton for their work in developing this tool.  And I’d like to thank you all for your attendance this morning and invite you to remain and join us for a light lunch.  Thank you very much.

[Audience applause]

Last updated: 
Wednesday, April 6, 2016