CSIRO’s ON Hastens 5-day demo highlights ag-tech progresses

RADAR for bees, radical renewable energy storage, robotic hands that can “think” about the fruit they handle, tech to sex eggs: if CSIRO’s ON Accelerate 5 demo day is anything to go by, the coming year presents some exciting commercialization in Australian-developed ag-tech.

CSIRO’s ON Accelerate 5 demo day was held last week, with nine research teams presenting cutting-edge innovations that are enrooted to market.

The national accelerator program takes on the best of the best publicly funded research teams with innovations that are at a point of readiness for market, and puts them through a rigorous 12-week hothouse that sees them progress innovations in commercialization.

ON program executive director David Burt said it was quite a competitive process to be selected.
“The team needs to have a technology that is relatively proven out in a scientific context, but still quite immature in a commercial context,” he said.

“The second category we look for is evidence of customer demand, that there is a real acknowledged problem or opportunity in the world.
“Then we look at the team: their skills, the personalities, the work ethics of the team, and select for the people that are going to get the most value out of the program.”
Successful teams need to have a diversity in their make-up, with different skill-sets, including communication.
“It’s a very intense program, and it can be a little confronting at times, so it needs to be people that can accept feedback,” he said.

Teams are at different stages of readiness to commercialize when they enter ON Accelerate, varying from research teams still operating in the lab space, to those that are forming an incorporated company, to those that are already attracting investors and customers.

“For some, they will have entered ON Accelerate in February as scientists as part of a university, and by the end of the program they will have started a company, and a few will have left the university environment to be in that company.

“For some that already started with a company for example, in the case of Bee Innovative, they would have actually generated revenue, and we would have helped them to find their first customers by the end of the program.”