July 2018 Newsletter

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Note from the Manager

I am pleased to congratulate the Hovermap team who have progressed their intelligent lidar mapping and navigating system drone technology along the commercialisation pathway, with start-up Emesent Autonomy. Take a moment to watch the compelling video footage of a drone operating in the tunnels and caves of an underground mine site.

In the past year, the SIEF STEM⁺ Business Fellowship program has transitioned from a development phase to an operational phase. 30 Fellowship applications have been approved. This represents a total commitment of $7,495,933 in SIEF funds. With additional SME cash contributions of $8.39M and Research Organisation in-kind contributions of $5.98, the program value across these 30 projects is $20.9M. Another fantastic example of the incredible value catalysed by SIEF funding.

We look forward to your continued interest in SIEF this year.

Dr Melissa Straffon
SIEF Manager
(03) 9545 7952 or 0408 134 581

Experimental Development Program

SIEF commenced the Experimental Development Program in mid-2016 to address the significant gap in funding options available for progressing technology development to a stage suitable for attracting commercial investment and market uptake.

Since the EDP was launched, the SIEF Trustee has approved $9.45m funding from SIEF across 11 projects. This has been complemented by $10.5m in co-investment, growing the sustainability of the Fund through an increased role for our partners. It is my pleasure to announce that following the success of this program, CSIRO has gifted an additional $10 million for SIEF to extend the program over a further 8 years.

This comes in a timely fashion, as June 2018 was a milestone for SIEF with the successful completion of the first project funded under the auspices of the EDP – Prawn RNAi. Led by Dr Melony Sellars from CSIRO, the research team assessed the ability of RNA interference antivirals to reduce virus transmission in black tiger prawns. With industry co-investment from the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation and support from the Australian Prawn Farmers Association, the outcomes of this pilot commercialisation-scale experiment will provide the Australian prawn industry with the confidence required for commercial uptake of antivirals, potentially adding AUD$2.2million of value annually to the $80million Australian prawn industry, with an even greater value if translated globally.

Research Infrastructure

Last financial year we introduced the Medium Equipment Program (MEP) to the SIEF portfolio, addressing a funding gap for equipment in the range of $500,000 to $4 million. In addition to supporting capability and capacity for world-class science, the equipment must also encourage collaboration nationally, internationally, and with industry. So far almost $10 million has been awarded for 13 pieces of research equipment across diverse areas of research, from agriculture and marine observation to biomedical science and cyber security.

Supporting Early Career Researchers

The 68th Meeting of Nobel Laureates (dedicated to Physiology and Medicine), was held in Lindau, Germany, on 24-29 June 2018. SIEF provided financial support for eight Australian early career researchers to attend – via the “Science and Industry Endowment Fund – Australian Academy of Science Fellowships to the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings.” The meetings are a tremendous opportunity to foster the exchange among scientists of different generations, cultures, and disciplines.