New program piloted to get clean technology out of the lab and into the world

Published 03 Jun 2022

By Jessica Hyne

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2 June 2022, Melbourne – Researchers from the Future Battery Industries Cooperative Research Centre (FBICRC) and the RACE for 2030 Cooperative Research Centre (RACE for 2030) gathered on Tuesday to take part in the pilot of a new program skilling up clean technology experts to commercialise their research.

Climate KickStarter, developed by Climate-KIC Australia, aims to bridge the gap between deep technological expertise and market acumen to help Australian researchers develop the skills and know-how to understand industry priorities and challenges.

“Ultimately, we are trying to facilitate faster, more effective technology transfer between world-class Australian research and industry,” said Chris Lee, CEO of Climate-KIC Australia. “There’s huge opportunity for innovative industries to invest in, rapidly deploy and scale Australian research to take advantage of the global movement towards low emissions value chains.”

The role of cleantech research in transitioning Australia to a low-carbon and resilient economy and society has never been clearer. Australian universities have a strong track record of discovery and innovation, but when it comes to translating research outputs into long-term commercial opportunities, Australia trails behind other global innovation ecosystems. Australia ranked last in the OECD for business collaboration on innovation with higher education or government institutions.

While other commercialisation programs focus on innovations or business concepts, Climate KickStarter focuses on the researcher as an individual and supports them to develop the building blocks – confidence, knowledge, skills, and ability – to leverage future commercialisation opportunities.

By intervening at this early stage, Climate KickStarter creates a rich pipeline for other Australian cleantech accelerators, incubators, spin-offs, and employment within industry.

The program, structured over two half-days, helps higher-degree researchers and their supervisors to understand the diverse commercialisation pathways available to them, and gives them skills to manage stakeholders, identify problem spaces, build a team and engage with and understand the priorities of customers.

Climate KickStarter was developed by Climate-KIC Australia as a fit-for-purpose response to a need identified by both RACE for 2030 and FBICRC for targeted training and support for researchers. Based on their experience with other accelerators and incubators, this was not readily available.

“Our Industry PhD Program engages with universities and industry to train the future workforce through practical, demand driven research projects,” said Jon Jutsen, CEO of RACE for 2030. “Our PhD students are gaining valuable training through the Climate KickStarter program to develop skills and support their interactions with industry. It is essential for RACE for 2030 to support programs such as these to place Australia at the forefront of the energy transition.”

By intervening at this early stage, Climate KickStarter creates a rich pipeline of cleantech entrepreneurs in start-ups, spin-offs, and employment within industry.

“The Future Battery Industries Cooperative Research Centre is deeply committed to the development of new battery industries and supporting research students is key to that commitment. We congratulate the students who participated in the Climate Kickstarter program for 2022, talented individuals who are part of our growing cohort of researchers and who are well placed to become technical and business leaders of the future”, said Shannon O’Rourke, CEO of FBICRC.

The curriculum was developed specifically to address the challenges faced by Australian researchers by Cruxes Innovation, who help Australian universities and research organisations unlock the impact potential of their research through partnering with industry, government and community to create a more sustainable future, and Occami, a entrepreneurship training and strategy coaching consultancy out of the Netherlands.

“There’s huge desire and intent from researchers to direct their research efforts to solving real world problems,” said Emily Chang, Cruxes co-founder and partner.  “By equipping them with the skills, confidence and connections to do so, we create a scalable way to unlock the impact potential of Australia’s amazing research, science and technology.”

“We see innovation as a public good,” said Lee. “Society is facing some of the most wicked problems seen in history – a warming planet and a transition to net zero, a global pandemic, social fragmentation – and the solutions to these problems lie in pairing the ground-breaking frontier thinking of researchers with the acumen, influence and reach of businesses.”

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