Australian Innovation

Research Commercialisation stimulates debate at the Queensland 2010 Australian Innovation Festival launch

The Australian Institute for Commercialisation (AIC) and the Australian Academy of Technological Scientists and Engineers (ATSE) hosted the launch event of the 2010 Australian Innovation Festival in Queensland.

The launch event, which took place on 22 April, signified the start of almost six weeks of events to support and promote the best of Australian innovation and entrepreneurship.

The evening was chaired by Dr. Carrie Hillyard, ATSE Fellow, and commenced with presentations from Dr. Rowan Gilmore, CEO of the Australian Institute for Commercialisation (AIC), David Henderson, CEO of Uniquest and Anne-Marie Birkill, CEO of i.Lab, who provided their insights on the current state of commercialisation, as it relates to the development of new products or services from university research.

David Henderson, CEO of Uniquest, outlined some of the various metrics which could be utilised to help answer the event title “Research Commercialisation – Are we there yet?”. David demonstrated that there is still work to be done to ensure that each research innovation which has economic value or will positively affect people’s lives is in use by all those who can benefit. He also outlined one of his organisation’s greatest challenges:  to find innovations, filter them, and develop them into products and services. Uniquest’s Deal Sheet, sent out quarterly to industry, aims to highlight innovations and to engage industry in their commercialisation.

Dr. Rowan Gilmore, CEO of the Australian Institute for Commercialisation (AIC), highlighted that there are numerous pathways to commercialisation. He compared the intellectual property and residential property markets to help define what the ultimate destination might look like, particularly in regards to matching of  market supply and demand, transparency and information flows. He noted that research commercialisation was commonly assumed to be a pathway involving either a start up company or licensing IP, but that this was only the tip of the iceberg, since transfer of know-how through collaboration was a much broader commercialisation pathway. Rowan outlined the AIC’s role as an ‘’innovation intermediary” to support organisations along this particular commercialisation pathway, highlighting the “Researchers in Business” program as one of the programs available, to strengthen industry engagement with the research sector. Rowan concluded his presentation by summarising that commercialisation pathways can be stimulated through innovation intermediary activity and that sustained government support is essential to overcome market failures.

Anne-Marie Birkill, CEO of i.Lab, discussed the fact that commercialisation is not a single defined destination and that although performing better than several years ago, there was still room for improvement. Anne-Marie offered an analogy of research commercialisation being like baking a cake, to demonstrate the ingredients required for research commercialisation as well as the methodology needed to achieve a successful outcome. Anne-Marie outlined the University of Queensland’s research commercialisation achievements regarding patents, capital raised and sales volume from products based at UQ technology, as well as the fact that UQ is benchmarked in the top 10% globally.

After the speakers had concluded their presentations, questions from the floor ensued. The panel were questioned in areas including:

-          What do we need to do more of to achieve commercialisation?

-          Are there particular patterns regarding the type of commercialisation projects being implemented?

-          What are the current gaps preventing us from achieving researching commercialisation?

-          How long will it take for Australia to achieve commercialisation equivalent to the US?

-          The Australian culture is not conclusive to research commercialisation. Could Australia change its culture by providing tax incentives for investors?

More than 60 people attended the event and a wide range of organisations were represented, including the University of Queensland, AusIndustry, the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI), Brisbane City Council and the Queensland Japan Chamber of Commerce & Industry to name a few.

For further information about the range of Australian Innovation Festival events taking place throughout April and May, please visit the Australian Innovation website at

About the Australian Institute for Commercialisation (AIC):
The AIC is a leading service organisation helping innovators achieve commercial success. Around Australia we help business, research organisations and governments convert their ideas into successful outcomes.

About  the Australian Academy of Technological Scientists and Engineers (ATSE)

ATSE is an independent, non-government organisation, promoting the development and adoption of existing and new technologies to improve and sustain our society and economy.

About Australian Innovation:

Australian Innovation works to increase public awareness of the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship through an emphasis on the three pillars of future economic growth – excellence in research, development and commercialisation.

Media Contact:

Rowan Gilmore, Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Institute for Commercialisation

Rowan.Gilmore(at)  +61 7 3853 5225

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