Championing Translation & Commercialisation of Australian Medical Research

Australia has a vibrant medical technology and pharmaceutical (MTP) sector, recognised globally for its excellence and innovation. With nearly 1,300 companies and an exceptionally skilled workforce of 68,000 across industry and research, the MTP sector is a major contributor to the Australian economy. Dr Rebecca Tunstall, Senior Director of Stakeholder Engagement at MTPConnect, leads collaborative teams to drive connectivity, innovation and productivity in this sector. Rebecca outlined emerging “megatrends” that will ‘reshape our world in the next 10-50 years.’ Digital evolution is central to them all, allowing the rapid exchange of information, advances in genomic sequencing and big data collection to support precision medicine, and integrated care models with artificial intelligence and robotics. She wants to see Australia at the forefront, revolutionising healthcare with these emerging technologies.

The Phoenix Schools Program: resurrecting lab equipment for the next generation of scientists

During Andrew Gray’s efforts in setting up BioQuisitive, he realised a large amount of old but otherwise high-quality scientific equipment was being consigned to landfill from professional laboratories. Joining forces with Samuel Wines, the Phoenix School Program was born. Within a month, they had already diverted over $100,000 in donated equipment from the tip to a redistribution facility. The donated equipment is now destined to be repurposed at low-socioeconomic high schools and their students to foster their science education. Samuel’s vision for the program is to create an online portal that, in addition to an inventory of lab equipment on offer for schools, showcases citizen science projects, STEM-based jobs and businesses available for the next generation of scientists. Partnering with programs such as BioQuisitive and Science for All, they will encourage students to participate in curriculum-mapped citizen science projects to work directly with scientists.

International Day of Women and Girls in Science

In 2015 the United Nations General Assembly declared 11th February as a day to celebrate, recognise and encourage women and girls in STEM fields around the world! This initiative hopes that increased visibility will strengthen interest and support for the next generation of girls who want develop their passions for science. The Royal Society of Victoria and the Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability Victoria organised a free streaming event designed to engage and inspire young girls interested in science, featuring Dr Muneera Bano, Associate Professor Misty Jenkins and Dr Amy Coetsee as they tell their stories into STEM. Joined by Dr Gillian Sparkes, Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability, Dr Amanda Caples, Victoria’s Lead Scientist, and Dr Andrea Hinwood, Victoria’s Chief Environmental Scientist. Read about this brilliant event and the insights that these esteemed women in STEM were able to give to the next generation.

Scaling Australian Manufacturing through Digital Platforms

Industry 4.0 is the next industrial revolution, utilising digitalisation to create a smarter, self-correcting manufacturing processes. Bringing this new industrial age together with science is Professor Bronwyn Fox, winner of the 2020 Medal for Excellence in Scientific Research. Her journey with carbon fibre production saw the develop a more efficient fabrications process for composite materials, and also had her involved with Quickstep and their new composite material process. At the time a small start-up, Quickstep is now the largest Australian independent manufacturer of composite materials, and Bronwyn took this entrepreneurial mindset and founded Deakin University’s Carbon Nexus facility. Professor Bronwyn Fox continued her research into renewable carbon fibre and established yet another facility – the National Industry 4.0 Testlab – which focuses on 3D printing of composite materials.

Inspired by Nature: Engineering Multifunctional Materials

What does DNA, snowflakes and the hydrophobic effect have in common? They are all example of molecular self-assembly! Inspired by this process of nature, Dr Nisa Salim used attractive and repulsive forces to influence molecules to interact, and in doing so created an array of nanostructures capable of becoming solar cells, drug delivery systems, and in her newest venture – manipulating carbon fibre to be stronger than steel, lighter than aluminium and even electrically conductive! For her work in carbon manufacturing, Dr Nisa Salim was awarded the 2020 Phillip Law Postdoctoral Award for the Physical Sciences and explains how a nature-inspired approach to manufacturing can be the key to many issues facing our time – from climate control, water management and even high speed travel.