Australian research commercialisation on the up and up worldwide

On the National Survey of Research Commercialisation (NSRC) snapshot just released, Dr Erin Rayment, Chair of Knowledge Commercialisation Australasia (KCA) – the peak body leading best practice for research organisations in industry engagement, commercialisation and entrepreneurship –  said Australia was on the up and up in the world’s research commercialisation space.

“It’s great to see a continued increase in start-up growth and licensing deals, signalling an active technology transfer environment,” she said.

“KCA members continue to lead the way in provisional and PCT* patent filings, along with broader industry engagement activities, including strong growth in consultancies, contracts and collaborations,” said Dr Rayment, who is also Director of the Office of Research Development, University of Southern Queensland (USQ).

“KCA strongly supports the increase in researchers and students participating in industry skills training and will continue to support our members in delivering these professional development opportunities.”

The 2018 NSRC Snapshot presents metrics based on data collected through the latest NSRC survey of 30 Australian universities, 20 medical research institutes and six publicly funded research agencies representing 2016 data, demonstrating commercialisation activities and outcomes of participating Australian research organisations. It covers start-up creation, Provisional and PCT applications, consultancies, contracts and collaborations, R&D expenditure, invention disclosures, patents granted and cooperative research centres (CRCs).

The Snapshot shows that Australian public research organisations have increased their commercialisation and collaboration activities over the life of the survey, since it first commenced in 2000, with positive trends across most areas: continued growth in start-up creation; increased technology licences executed; and consultancies, contracts and collaborations with end users including industry partners.

Leaders in the field were: CSIRO, University of Queensland and Monash University were the top three for producing consultancies, contracts and collaborations with end users; CSIRO, The University of Sydney and Monash University were the top three for new PCT applications per surveyed organisations, 2014-2016;  CSIRO, the University of New England and Monash University were the top three for new Provisional applications per surveyed organisations, 2014-2016; and The University of Melbourne, The University of NSW and Monash University were the top three for R&D expenditure per surveyed organisations, 2014-2016

There was also an increase of 35% in researchers and students participating in industry skills training.

Dr Alastair Hick, Senior Director Monash Innovation and former KCA Chair said big increases in the number of start-ups coming out of public funded research organisations in the last two years of the survey were seen, changing a decade long fall in numbers.

“This is a really positive sign reflecting the increasing interest in innovation and entrepreneurship from our researchers and a big increase in the availability of investment capital for early stage deep tech opportunities,” he said.

“We expect this to continue as new capital comes on line and increasingly institutions are seeing translation of their research through spin outs and licences as core to their ability to achieve impact from their research.”

Chief Executive officer of UniQuest, Dr Dean Moss, said he is greatly encouraged to see the strong growth in start-up creation that the survey reveals.

“This growth is an indicator of the translation of research through commercialisation. All of the metrics are positive for a sector, which is active and covers a wide participation by CSIRO, the universities and medical research institutes,” he concluded.

*The Patent Cooperation Treaty is an international patent law treaty, concluded in 1970. It provides a unified procedure for filing patent applications to protect inventions in each of its contracting states. A patent application filed under the PCT is called an international application, or PCT application.

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