UON research accelerates into the spotlight

Friday, 1 September 2017


Seven University Of Newcastle teams will soon get the chance to validate their research and test whether there are real world applications for their ideas.

The teams are part of the largest UON cohort in ON Prime to date, following the earlier successes of their colleagues ON Prime 1 and ON Prime 2.

ON Prime is CSIRO’s part time pre-accelerator program which embraces a ‘get-out-of-the-building’ approach to learning, by encouraging hands-on, practical learning and business model development.

Between September and November the seven UON teams will undertake five face-to-face sessions at NeW Space culminating in a showcase event open to fellow researchers and students to attend and see their progress.

Pro Vice-Chancellor (Industry Engagement and Innovation) Dr Sarah Pearson commended the research teams on taking the plunge and exploring entrepreneurship as an alternate pathway to take their research from invention to impact.

“Pre-accelerators are an excellent way for researchers to learn about commercialisation and how critical customer validation is in that process. ON Prime is a fantastic program specifically designed for academics which is not only uncovering Australia’s amazing research, it’s also helping to shape those ideas into investment ready enterprises.”

The diverse research projects and teams are:

Diffuse Wind Energy, Joss Kesby, Sam Evans, James Bradley. The product is a small wind turbine that, through being enclosed within a diffuser, can produce nearly twice the power output of existing wind turbines of the same size. The addition of the diffuser also makes the turbine safer and quieter than existing turbines, both of which are key considerations for potential customers. The team has developed a methodology that can optimise a diffuser augmented wind turbine for a range of wind conditions.

Eat.Be, Dr Megan Rollo, Professor Clare Collins, Associate Professor Tracy Burrows, Dr Marc Adam. From the lab to the laptop, Eat.Be is based on scientific evidence and supported by our many years of nutrition, behaviour and technology research. Our philosophy is incremental, small changes for sustainable, healthy habits. Eat.Be disrupts traditional care models improving access to expert nutrition advice through lower cost, shorter duration, and more frequent dietary coaching and supported by our sophisticated web and mobile platform to engage, track and reinforce healthy behaviours.

Media Doctor: Citizen Scientist, Dr Amanda Wilson, Caitlin Parr, Craig Hite, Judith Sandner, Peter Sinclair. Dr Google is the main source of health and medical information. The rise of the blogger, citizen journalism and ‘fake news’ makes it hard to know which information to trust.

Media Doctor Citizen Science is an online, open access resource, where people can learn to assess and rate the quality of health information. The site will publish the health articles with a star-rating of quality so anyone can see just how valuable the information is.

MGA Thermal Storage, Alexander Post, Professor Erich Kisi, Ben Fraser, Sam Reed, Dylan Cuskelly, Mark Copus. Solar thermal energy plays an important role in the mix of renewable technologies, as it is the only option providing affordable and reliable on-demand or baseload electricity generation from the sun. MGA storage technology is of use to large scale energy providers, who want to provide base load power through renewable means. This is achieved by storing thermal energy in a compact, stable, and readily accessible medium, which existing thermal storage technologies struggle to accomplish.

Rapid Bacterial Detection, Dr Gabrielle Briggs, Professor Zsolt Balogh, Associate Professor Ian Grainge. Joint infections are potentially lethal or can cause debilitating complications and are considered a medical emergency. A problem with diagnosing infection in joints is that infection is clinically similar to inflammation alone, and there is no rapid test for the detection of bacteria in joint fluid. We have developed a test that measures the number of bacteria in joint fluid and other clinical samples within 20minutes from sample collection and have tested this method in the hospital setting on patients undergoing orthopaedic surgery. We now aim to develop this into a real-time diagnostic test in pathology laboratories.

BeeDar, David Lyall, Kate Lyall. Varroa Destructor is a parasitic mite that has jumped species from the Asian honeybee (apis cerana) to European honeybees (apis mellifera). Australia is the last country in the world to be varroa free, with experts stating, “It is not a question of if varroa arrives in Australia, it’s just a question of when”. Bee radar (BeeDar) helps biosecurity agencies keep Australia varroa free by identifying a varroa incursion by tracking bees from the field to the hive in real time, reporting location via an application, unlike current practice which requires a person to physically stand in the field. Beedar is an integrated wireless sensing and tracking platform which identifies foraging bees.

Care giVR, Donovan Jones, Associate Professor Rohan Walker. Each year, millions of babies do not breathe immediately at birth, and among them the majority require basic neonatal resuscitation. Virtual Reality (VR) simulation is rapidly becoming established as a valuable method of teaching clinical based emergency skills to health professionals in a safe environment to improve confidence and competence. The 3D visualisation/simulation that can be offered via neonatal VR will assist in improving knowledge, confidence and understanding of neonatal resuscitation and provides benefits in learning anywhere anytime completely immersive with biofeedback of the user also available.

Stay tuned for more news items about the teams’ progress through the program.