Return of the research entrepreneur program

May 11, 2017

Dr Sofie De Meyer began her own company after completing the Start Something program.

Commercialising research will hit the spotlight when Murdoch University runs the successful Start Something Program next month.

Run for the first time in 2016, Start Something is an entrepreneur-led program developed by the Innovation Cluster, a group of industry experts involved with guiding corporate innovation and research commercialisation.

Participants take part in a series of commercialisation awareness events and a workshops program led by industry mentors, focusing on the stages of education, business modelling, validation and the commercialisation process.

Professor David Morrison, Murdoch University’s Deputy Vice Chancellor Research and Innovation, said the program provided enterprise skills, knowledge and contacts in industry to help researchers.

“Start Something will enable researchers to learn from the successful commercialisation pathways of others, allowing them to engage directly with industry and business experts, and work in start-up ecosystems,” he said.

“The initiative is an important component in broadening the University’s focus on research, innovation and knowledge transfer as it provides a cohesive framework supporting industry connectivity.”

Staff interested in enrolling in this year’s Start Something course in June have had the chance to learn more about Start Something from past participants before committing to the program.

Agricultural science researcher Dr Sofie De Meyer spoke about her business MALDIID Pty Ltd, which is a root nodule identifier for farmers and institutes.

“I started my business MALDIID Pty Ltd in January and I am working hard to get it operational for the next season.

“It is a steep learning curve, but because I was exposed to many experts during Start Something, I have several people I can draw on for advice,” Sofie said.

“Participating in the Start Something program gave me a good overview of what it entails to be an entrepreneur.

“It gave me the opportunity to practice my pitch to varied audiences and to keep refining it so I could learn how to best get the message across. I also learned how to structure the business and learn important business vocabulary, which helps enormously.

“It also provided great networking opportunities to meet people in my area and most importantly it allowed the fine tuning of my research idea into a commercial idea.”

Researcher Susan Herrmann, from the Institute for Immunology and Infectious Diseases, and colleagues from the School of Arts: Brad Power, Mark Cypher and Renae Desai, used knowledge gained from last year’s Start Something program to accelerate the translation of new health software from a research context into clinical practice.

The software was designed in collaboration with a team in France and will be used by patients and doctors to promote patient engagement in chronic disease management.

“The bench-to-bedside model of health translation is well known, however the mantra should really be from bench-to-business-to-bedside, in my view,” said Dr Herrmann.

“Programs like Start Something provide the training in business development that many of us in research are lacking.”

Following their success in Start Something, Dr Hermann’s team was mentored by Andy Lamb at Atomic Sky. This association led to a spot on CSIRO’s On Program, which provides mentorship and training in business development to accelerate opportunities for expansion of researcher’s ideas and potential commercialisation.

Start Something Entrepreneur Workshops will run again in June and staff can apply until Friday, 19 May.

More information can be found here.

All the latest news from Murdoch University can be read here.

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