Partnering for commercial tech

Denham Sadler
National Affairs Editor

A data-collecting drone and a fish identification technology are two recent projects that demonstrate the commercial importance of collaboration between public sector research and the private sector, Industry Minister Karen Andrews said.

Both are examples of public research in two distinct new technologies that have gone to the market recently and secured external funding. This is very positive.

Queensland drones startup Emesent recently secured a $3.5 million funding round led by the CSIRO’s venture arm Main Sequence Ventures, with support from its ON accelerator program.

The company’s flagship product, Hovermap, can be installed on drones and used to automate data collection in areas that are too dangerous for someone to survey, such as an underground mine. The technology was developed by former researchers at the CSIRO’s Data61.

“Emesent has developed game-changing technology with the potential to boost the global mining industry. This is a prime example of how investment in Australian research can create new opportunities and value for our economy, including our mining sector,” Ms Andrews said.

The drone can be deployed without a human controller, and used to create 3D maps, record gas readings and take videos and images.

“This could help improve the productivity of mines and the safety of workers. The data collected provides a better understanding of underground mine conditions, without placing miners in hazardous situations,” she said.

“The Coalition recognises the importance of our science, research and technology capabilities to Australia’s economic growth and jobs of the future – that’s why we’re investing $2.4 billion in this year’s budget to grow these sectors.”

CSIRO boss Larry Marshall said the organisation had helped to model the new commercial operation.

“Emesent is an example of a company who has hit the innovation sweetspot, combining their deep domain experience in mining with digital expertise,” Dr Marshall said.

“This has been harnessed by the environment we have created at CSIRO where deep science combines with innovative ideas and agile minds to create game-changing technologies.”

“CSIRO’s strength lies in our knowledge and experience of core markets like mining and agriculture and the channels we create, like our ON program, to deliver digital innovation which is transforming and creating new industries.”

The other piece of emerging technology recently touted by the government is the fishIDER – the fish Identification Database and Educational Resource – which will now be used by Indonesian fisheries staff.

The technology helps to monitor and manage fisheries, and was also developed by CSIRO.

“The benefits of this innovative research reach far beyond Tasmania and the mainland – it’s an initiative that’s going to benefit researchers and industry around the globe,” Dr Marshall said.

“fishIDER is a prime example of Australia and Indonesia working together through CSIRO’s partnership with Indonesia’s Centre for Fisheries Research, funded by the Australian Centre for International Agriculture Research.”

The research helps improve data quality through improving the identification of fish and landing locations, to ensure they are sustained at healthy levels.

Ms Andrews said the new technology shows how Australian research can be translated and used around the world.

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