ON Prime teams present promising innovations to the business community

Last month members of Perth research, science and business communities met at Curtin Business School to hear about the work of the latest cohort of research teams to graduate from CSIROs ON Prime programme. The teams presented their projects, and their learning from the ON Prime 4, and how their innovations will benefit business in Australia and impact the world.


I thought I’d share a quick overview on what the teams have been working on and what’s next for them on the commercialisation journey. If you’re interested in getting involved to assist any of the teams, in any way, please get in contact with me.


Eco-Ore is providing a safe and cost-effective process to extract rare earth metals, which are used in all our technology. The team has gained valuable insights into their potential customers priorities and a lot of information that has informed the final formulation of the solution. The Eco-Ore team’s next steps will include building a pilot plant and validating their solution at scale.


MicroBright has developed a strengthening toothpaste which is less damaging to enamel than products currently on the market. The Team has gained valuable insights into the barriers in the market, the importance of user-friendly language, and clearly defining market segments. The MicroBright team will incorporate all of the inputs into the next stage of development.


On-Farm Grain Storage, developed by researchers at Curtin University and existing business GGHS, is providing advantages in agriculture like decreased yield/quality losses and lower operational costs for farmers. The team has gained valuable insights into the real main concerns for farmers, with some previous assumptions challenged! This has enabled the team to develop a plan for infield trials and to reformulate a marketing strategy for the new storage solution.


Insight from Imagery has created sophisticated video mapping and object recognition technology to quantify the changing planet and help solve problems and make decisions in business. They offer increased data quality and accuracy. This team is exploring different markets such as building inspection companies, oil and gas and environmental, with plans to take a look at other industries such as forestry and agriculture.


The Ceramic Membrane Filter development team have developed a product for faster filtration, lower energy consumption and easy, lower-cost maintenance. Solutions base on the technology opens up opportunities in a range of industries such as water filtration and wineries – growing industries in key market around the world. The teams learnings included the necessity to develop the whole filtration solution rather than just the filter membrane and that different customer segments have different needs.


So what’s next for these teams? That largely depends on industry support, grant funding and investment opportunities to develop their products further to commercialisation. But as ON Programme coordinator David Bird said at the event, ‘ON Prime never finishes’, and teams have the opportunity to continue their research and development with the support of the ON Tribe alumni programme, and for some, to attend the ON Accelerate intensive programme. The advice was, ‘Identify your support people and keep the communication flow going.’


It’s great fun being part of CSIRO’s ON Prime and ON Accelerate programmes and I am looking forward to ON Prime 5, which is just around the corner. Applications for ON Prime 5 close on July 13.

Valuing Early Stage Companies

I am currently helping a team calculate the pre-money valuation of their company before they go out and raise additional equity funds. This is not an easy exercise to do on your own company. However, it made me go back to one of my favourite references, an article called, “Valuation For Startups  – 9 Methods Explained”, co-written and published in French by Augustin de Cambourg and in Portuguese by Raphael Mielle. Link below in English.


The article does a great job of explaining all of the methods that can be used. They can be used to estimate the value now and to estimate the value once a key milestone or inflection point is reached. In fact, you can map out the whole journey you plan to take and value the company at each key milestone or inflection point.


At the end of the article, Augustine and Raphael pinpoint what they see as the best valuation method: “Having said that, I find that the best valuation method is the one described by Pierre Entremont, early-stage investor at Otium Capital, in this excellent article. According to him, you should start from defining your needs and then negotiate dilution: The optimal amount raised is the maximal amount which, in a given period, allows the last dollar raised to be more useful to the company than it is harmful to the entrepreneur.”


Here is the article on valuation…


CSIRO’s ON Accelerate teams showcase their journeys in entrepreneurship

Over the past few months I’ve been having an amazing time embedded in CSIRO’s ON Accelerate program, the pre-eminent science and technology accelerator in Australia, involving 30 universities and other groups and departments across the country.


As one of the national program’s two facilitators, together with my colleague David Ireland, I have travelled around Australia’s cities with the 10 finalist teams to deliver a 13-week series of workshops to them and expose them to top experts in IP portfolio development, finance and financing, team structure and development, and pitch development and skills. These teams of scientific researchers were chosen from some 40 entrants and have been working through the ON Prime program and then the ON Accelerate program to develop their research into marketable products to address the needs of customer segments in the community. For example, Genics has developed a new pest detection system that cuts cost and time delays for Australian prawn farmers; Diffuse Energy has produced a small wind turbine with nearly twice the power output of existing same-sized wind turbines, and Noisy Guts is using the natural noise of guts for health screening.


For these scientists, the program and upcoming showcase of their journey at the Demo Night on the 19thApril represent an exciting time for their research.


For me personally, working with David in designing and leading every workshop in the ON Accelerate program, it has been a personally rewarding journey to see our models and delivery methods in action and spending time refining them to provide participants with maximum value. It’s been fantastic to see the scientist teams develop their entrepreneurial skills, learn about product-market fit and develop business models to take their technology to market-readiness.


The invitation-only Demo event will be live-streamed and you can access the video link or find out more about participating teams.