Taking research to market

How can science and technology researchers get their business off the ground? Increasingly academics are founding global businesses from their research knowledge. As part of the Spark Festival, we invite you to hear from a panel of startup founders with STEM backgrounds as they discuss how to start and grow a business from university research.

Discover how to approach investors and access the support available from a range of programs catering to students and graduates alike.

Event facilitator Natasha Rawlings of Uniseed says that researchers with great ideas should take advantage of the myriad of programs available to help them transition research knowledge into viable businesses.

“Any research idea may be really strong but without fundamental skills like understanding the problem from a potential customer point of view it can never form the foundation of a business,” she said. 

“That’s why programs like Incubate and UNSW Founders Program are so useful – they help get started the entrepreneurial journey so you can view what you are doing with a different lens, and even shape you research differently.”

When Natasha is approached by research-based companies at Uniseed, she looks for potential founders with a customer focus.

“Researchers who just talk about their research instantly get off on the wrong foot if they really want to commercialise what they are doing,” she warned.

Natasha will lead a conversation with Main Sequence ventures Martin Duursma to explain what VCs often ask researchers, and more to the point, what they are thinking in those conversations. 

Event host Rupal Ismin said that the Sydney Knowledge Hub is a new co-working space available to research-based organisations of all sizes and represents a unique opportunity for them to collaborate more deeply with the University and actively engage in the academic community.

“Startups seeking to commercialise a key scientific breakthrough or insight that is the foundation for their organisation can apply to make the Sydney Knowledge Hub their home, ” she said.

“The Knowledge Hub aims to reduce the friction between academia and members. The goal is for startups to have access to the facilities and intelligence of the University without agonizing over the legal and commercialization concerns that can often accompany those resources.”

NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte will be opening the Spark Festival research event and said that by ensuring that great research is translated into real and meaningful outcomes for the people of NSW, lives are measurably improved and exciting commercial opportunities are created.

“An example is the NSW Government’s new NSW Physical Sciences Fund(PSF). Modelled on the highly successful Medical Devices Fund, the PSF is offering $5 million to support the development and commercialisation of innovative devices and systems in areas including energy, the environment, agriculture and the circular economy,” he said.

Event speakers

  • Prof Hugh Durrant-Whyte, NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer.
  • Prof Duncan Ivison, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research), University of Sydney.
  • Natasha Rawlings, Uniseed.
  • Martin Duursma, Main Sequence Ventures.
  • Michael Withford, co-founder and CEO of Modular Photonics, manufacturing glass-microchip devices that increase data transmission rates and reach in legacy public and enterprise optical fibre networks. Based on research conducted at Macquarie University
  • Sarah McDonald, founder of Baymatob, a medical device company based on research conducted at University of Sydney
  • Hiranya Jayakody, founder High Earth Orbit Robotics, creating on-demand optical observation of objects that matter in space, from space. Based on research conducted at UNSW
  • Lana McClements, a lecturer at UTS and clinically qualified pharmacist whose research focuses on developing and implementing novel diagnostic and monitoring strategies in cardiovascular and diabetic complications of pregnancy.

Event participants will learn how to access university incubators and other programs that assist STEM researchers and students to transition viable ideas into global business opportunities including from universities, the CSIRO ON program and medtech accelerators.

Event details

Time: 2.30 to 4.30 pm followed by networking drinks
Date: Monday 14 October
Venue: Sydney Knowledge Hub

Cost: Free with booking via this link

Feature image by David Vagg. This Spark Festival event is free and open to all and is co-presented by Uniseed, the University of Sydney Knowledge Hub and Inspiring Australia.