Seventeen research staff and PhD’s from Murdoch University competed at the Start Something from Research pitch contest on the 2nd September. Pitch nights like these have many benefits, and are proving a key part of the research commercialisation acceleration funnel.

Dr Sophie De Meyer, a staff researcher in agri-sciences, won one of the highly sought after 6-minute presentation slots via a competitive pitch-off held the week prior. She commented after the final that “culminating the startup training and industry interactions with a shark tank style event was amazing.  The program took researchers like myself out of our normal environment, gave us the skills to think more like an entrepreneur and also created business connections to keep moving our commercialisation forward.  Only this week my team won our first customer and commercial contract so we are absolutely delighted.”

Murdoch University Vice Chancellor, Professor Eeva Leinonen, introduced the evening highlighting the rich pedigree of Murdoch in translational research, emphasizing the economic and social benefits of research commercialisation and flagging the importance of industry engagement and collaboration.  The Start Something cohort then braved a panel of industry leaders plus a room of experts from varying sectors to sell their commercial or social impact potential, unique value proposition and business model impact.

Chancellor of Murdoch University, David Flanagan, was one of the judging panel and stated “Murdoch is delighted to be working with incubation experts Atomic Sky and Innovation Cluster on this exciting initiative, for the program is an important component in broadening the commercialisation of the University’s world-class research.”   

Prizes for Start Something at Murdoch include entrepreneurship program scholarships, mentoring for commercialisation progress were provided by Atomic Sky, CSA Global, CISCO, Studio StartUp, Curtin Ignition, Murdoch University and CERI.  The cohort also received startup community membership via the TechHub entrepreneurship program.

CSA Global CEO Jeff Elliott has provided prizes to all three cohorts of Start Something in the past twelve months.  “Universities are flush with experts and leaders in many areas of innovation but it’s a source of expertise we never would have found without a program like this that connect industry directly to real world research. Only last month we engaged one of researchers from the earlier Start Something program to work on a commercial contract we have in Latin America.”

In the past twelve months, Start Something programs have engaged with 308 researchers; 86 have completed the full program, 69% of which were STEM disciplines, and 43 industry experts have mentored. It was founded in 2015 by Innovation Cluster as a platform to Engage, Learn, Leverage and Action research commercialisation in Australia.  To Engage researchers to step out of the lab and think commercially, to Learn startup methodologies, to Leverage industry and business acceleration mentors and to Action their business model.

“Ideally Start Something will be embraced by all Western Australian Universities and Research Organizations in 2017, said Innovation Cluster Founder Peter Rossdeutscher. “The goal is to connect industry and research whilst stimulating and guiding first steps for as many researchers as possible.  This will create the robust network of pathways and linkages needed to accelerate broad commercialisation of the State’s world class research.”

The evening closed with a networking session hosted by PwC.  Long after close the industry executives and financiers were still locking in follow up meetings with the presenters so there was no doubt that these researchers that had both skilled up then stepped up.

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