December 2015

Industry, Innovation and Science

8 December 2015

At the CRCSI Annual Conference Dr Peter Woodgate set the scene across the Commonwealth Government's Innovation Agenda, highlighted the CRCSI's accountability to Government and looked towards the future. Following is an extract of that speech.

Setting the scene for 2016, the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, the Honourable Christopher Pyne is tasked with developing an innovation agenda – the ultimate objective of which is to maintain the Australian standard of living on the back of growth in productivity, employment and export revenue generation.

In announcing the task force in October the Minister said innovative businesses are twice as likely to report productivity increases than businesses that do not innovate. Representing less than half of all employing businesses in the economy in 2011-12, innovative businesses accounted for around 70 per cent of total employment, total capital expenditure and total business income, and more than 80 per cent of total internet income.

The Government is investing $9.7 billion in science, research and innovation with the CRCs promoting cutting-edge research in universities and research institutions and producing graduates with hands-on industry experience. These initiatives will better prepare researchers to work directly with industry to convert ideas into real business outcomes.

This year saw the results of two CRCSI reviews through the Commonwealth Government's Miles Review of the CRC Programme and the subsequent Clark Review in September. The Clark Review set out three questions:

  1. Is the CRCSI meeting funding targets?
  2. Is the CRCSI meeting impact targets?
  3. How will the CRCSI work with the Growth Centres?

Our response?

Last year we turned over $26.7M (cash and in kind) across 48 projects and managed about 500 people totalling 113 FTE (including post graduates). This was in eight nodes of operation across two countries (Australia and New Zealand) and six jurisdictions for our 124 partnering organisations. On funding targets we are 60% higher than our Commonwealth Agreement obligations.

On impact, our benefits ratio (that is the ratio of input cash and in kind from our partners to assessed economic impact) has risen over the last five years. We expect $669M of measurable benefits over a 15 year period as a direct result of our activities at a benefit to cost ratio of greater than two.

More details about the impact of the CRCSI can be found in the Year in Summary 2014-15 Report – please download a copy of the report.

The Government has provided $225M to five Industry Growth Centres:

  1. Advanced Manufacturing
  2. Food and Agribusiness
  3. Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals
  4. Mining Equipment, Technology and Services
  5. Oil, Gas and Energy Resources

The purpose of the Growth Centres is to take to market intellectual property and research outputs from the research sector. They are therefore complementary to the CRC Programme which funds R&D but has limited ability to fund commercialisations.

Spatial technologies are important enablers in at least three of the Growth Centres of which we see opportunities particularly with the Food and Agribusiness and Energy Resources Growth Centres, with our partners Landgate, Sundown Pastoral, Twynam Agricultural Group, Milne AgriGroup, Precision Agriculture, Superair, AACo, MLA, the NRM Alliance, Ergon Energy and Energex.

The Growth Centres provide ongoing opportunities for the CRCSI to connect with new partners across the industry spectrum.

The outlook for the global spatial science and technology sector will see developments of particular relevance to our partners:

  • A near doubling of the number of GNSS satellites over the next few years 
  • The explosion in the number of small imaging satellites and the reduced costs of getting into space
  • The Semantic Web and cognitive computing
  • Embedded sensors
  • Open data and open analytics
  • Intelligent transport, autonomous vehicles, UAVs and robotics.

The common thread is the need for high quality, reliable, coordinate positioning, supported by spatially enabled data infrastructures and smart spatial analytics. These also happen to be at the core of the CRCSI’s programs.

And the next 12 months will see:

  • Stronger push from Government to align the research sector with the private sector through Government policy and incentives (including R&D tax concessions and grant programs)
  • Increased encouragement from the Commonwealth Government to have us involved in Industry Growth Centres, with a strong voice from 43pl
  • The Commonwealth has just started a review of space activities. The Review is being driven by accelerating growth in space technologies, falling costs in accessing space, new commercial opportunities and our obligations under five United Nations space treaties
  • A deeper engagement between New Zealand and Australia – in December New Zealand will launch a ‘Geospatial R&D Priorities and Opportunities’ statement that will guide New Zealand planning and investment. This will also influence the thinking of the CRCSI
  • Finally, under the guidance of our three Colleges and Governing Board we will progress our planning for post 2018 with a detailed research plan and governance model for the consideration of future partners.

The Communication Nub

With Jessica Purbrick-Herbst

It's a wrap with the CRCSI Annual Conference 2015 held in late November in Melbourne. With guests and speakers from around the globe we showcased our impact and achievements and learnt from the individuals and organisations who use or will use our research outcomes.

Special thanks to our keynote speakers who gave the spatial information sector insight into "what next" and the commercial realities of applied research. Thank you also to our delegates who travelled near and far to attend this event – your input into the debate and discussion is crucial for a successful conference.

Some of the standout sessions were:

  • Tapping the Crowd, how crowdfunding can enable research
  • Our four student pitches ranging from pizza ovens to more time with the family
  • Planning the Next Three Years & Beyond, open discussion about the model for CRCSI-3
  • Place and Health panel hosted by ABC Journalist Dr Norman Swan – debate raged about patient data versus patient privacy with a call for a more consumer focused approach
  • Ian Aitken from Samsung shared the future of things with us – wearable technology devices that monitor health with data capturing accuracy of 80%
  • And congratulations to our CRCSI Award Winners 2015 – learn who they are and why they were selected.


Welcome to Paula Fievez, the new Health Program Manager based in Perth. Having started just last week, Paula will oversee the CRCSI Health Program and coordinate the research activities, partner engagement and day-to-day operations.

CRCSI on YouTube

Christmas and New Year 2015 

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. We thank you for your support, collaboration and ongoing partnership during 2015.

The CRCSI Melbourne office will be closed from Thursday 24 December until Monday 4 January 2016.


Tapping the Crowd

Written by freelance writer Karen Cambrell

Crowdfunding is not a new phenomenon, says Tom Dawkins, social entrepreneur and founder of StartSomeGood. “We used to call it fundraising.” During his presentation at the CRCSI 2015 annual conference, Tom Dawkins cited the example of the Statue of Liberty. Although the statue was a gift from the French, neither the City of New York, nor its high-society philanthropists would shell out to build the plinth to mount it on. The construction was funded by small donations from the public, each averaging 84 cents.

More recently, Swedish researchers developing an innovative cancer-eating virus to treat neuroendocrine tumours secured £2M through a crowdfunding website. £600 000 came from many small contributions and £1.4M came from a single donor; a Texan oil merchant suffering from the disease. While this single, large donation may not seem to fit the crowdfunding model, it’s likely this individual only became aware of the project due to the way in which crowdfunding requests circulate through social networks. Another benefit offered by the crowdfunding model, says Tom, is that funders often become advocates of the project, spreading positive word-of-mouth on their own grapevines.

Dr Malcolm Campbell, Director of the GeoHealth Laboratory at the University of Canterbury and Principal Investigator of the CRCSI’s Sensing Cities Project says he will try crowdfunding to further his research. In a ‘Sensing City’ information (like the level of air pollution and UV) is collected by sensors in the urban landscape and combined with data generated by individuals, eg heartrate and movement, and fed to people at the right time and place to inform their decision making.

“The idea that you do research that’s bought into by the public, by them actually funding it, is immensely appealing because then you know from the beginning that it’s going to have an impact. It’s very different from a group of academics deciding to fund a proposal because it’s good science.”

For anyone thinking of crowdfunding their next research project, Tom offers the following analogy. You walk into a post office and ask the man behind the counter, “How much money can I raise with 1000 stamps?” He doesn’t know, does he? It depends what you put in the letter and it depends who you send it to.

So Tom says...Write a great letter. Tom makes it clear that designing an appeal for crowdfunding requires a completely different approach to writing a grant submission. It’s more playful, you need to appeal to people’s emotions. You need to get them immediately inspired and excited about what you want to do, and how it will improve the lives of others.

Malcolm Campbell back in New Zealand says one of the reasons crowdfunding appeals to him is because “it forces me to refine my message; [to articulate more crisply] why I think my idea is good. Part of the challenge will be to tell a good story rather than outlining the technical details.”

Send it to people who care. Tom debunks the myth that there is a ‘crowd funding community’ – a group of people who look for causes to give their money to – that you can tap. There’s no such thing. He says crowdfunding is a model you can use to “monetise, for want of a better word, the support you have from your own network.” You can’t just upload a request and sit back. You need to actively share it with relevant people, and ask those people for a contribution and to share it with their networks. Crowdfunding is not a way to get out of asking people for money.

Taking the idea of crowdfunding a step further, Malcolm wants to convince the public that their involvement in science is critical. His message is “We need you to do research with us.” Malcolm broadens his definition of support beyond financial contributions to include feedback, ideas, and permission to use personal data (that most of us are already giving away, perhaps unwittingly, via our smartphones).

“If you can convince people to give you the data in a consistent way, [that’s a form of in kind support]. Then the financial cost is in analysing that data and feeding it back, and if people can see they’ll benefit from the analysis, they may be willing to help fund that work. Recruiting lots of people is expensive and time consuming, so if people volunteer and know what they’re signing up for through a crowdfunding platform, I think it could be a much better model.”

And one final piece of advice, be truly innovative. Unlike more traditional grantors or investors, Tom says crowdfunders tend to have a strong bias towards ideas that are very new and radical. Whereas one mainstream funding body Tom cited was seeking to foster ‘proven innovation’, crowdfunding is ideally suited to true, unproven innovation. You’re unlikely to get much help from the crowd to scale up what you’re currently doing by 10%.

Malcolm agrees. “I think it’s much more entrepreneurial and innovative than traditional approaches. As scientists, we’re not generally encouraged to fail, and I think that’s an important part of the crowdfunding process, taking a bit of a risk.”



Using Storytelling

The Education Day brings together the CRCSI PhD and Masters Students for a day of training, idea sharing and collaboration beyond their natural research focus.

Student Day 2015

CRCSI PhD and Masters Students, 2015

This year the students learnt how to use storytelling to share complex research with firm “I believe” statements, snippets of themselves and importantly the core focus or outcome of their research. This one-day workshop hosted by Sandy McDonald, an online storyteller, culminated in all students pitching their stories to a panel of industry, government and academic individuals. 

The result? All students told their stories with passion and a clear approach to their research topic. Four winners were selected to present at the CRCSI Annual Conference 2015 during the first day plenary to an audience of over 220 people.

These students are:

  • Charity Mundava – "I believe in a green future and the sustainable management of natural resources. Farmers need to know how much feed is available in areas across rangeland properties. Now they can estimate pasture growth with the click of a button". Charity is a PhD Student at Curtin University. Her thesis Biomass Assessment Tools to Assist Grazing Management in the Kimberley Region of Western Australia sits within Biomass Business (Program 4.12)
  • Luis Elneser – "There are things that we love to do and things that we have to do. My research will lead to farmers and machine operators spending less time driving machinery and more time with their families". Luis is a PhD Student at RMIT University. His thesis Industry Expectations for Using a Real-Time, Australia-Wide, Multi-GNSS, PPP-RTK Service for Dynamic Applications sits within Program 1 Positioning
  • Nic Donnelly – How can a moving pizza oven be the building block of changing land boundaries? Nic talks about the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake events that led to movement in land boundaries and the need for a new modelling technique. He is a PhD Student at the University of NSW based in Canterbury (New Zealand), and his thesis Integration of Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar into a National Geodectic Datum sits within Program 1 Positioning
  • Nuddin Tengku – "Now GPS or GNSS technology is no longer a luxury but more of a necessity. In a few years, we will be seeing self driving cars and vehicles bringing us from Point A to Point B. Our lives will be dependent on the GPS capabilities of the vehicles. I am optimistic that my research will save lives by removing human error". Nuddin is a PhD Student at the University of Melbourne and his Program 1 Positioning thesis is titled Initiating the Development of a Test Track for Positioning System Validation and Certification.

Special thanks to our panellists: Dr Manfred Ehlers, Rob Rowell, David Sinclair, Dr Don Yule, Dr Bob Williams, Sandy McDonald, Wendy Jackson, Dr Nathan Quadros and Jessica Purbrick-Herbst.

A New Zealand Snapshot

The CRCSI works with nine organisations in New Zealand representing the private sector (43pl members), research partners and government partners. We also work with Local Government and Health Boards.

Five of our program areas have linkages in New Zealand. The Positioning, Spatial Infrastructures, Agriculture and Natural Resource Management and Climate Change, Build Environment and Health Programs are all involved with a project on the ground. Here is a snapshot:

  • The value of Greening the Greyfields as a sustainable urban regeneration tool especially after the Christchurch earthquake series in 2010-11 has provided access to local government and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment
  • The Sensing the Cities Project is examining the impact of air quality to help Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease patients better manage the disease with less hospital visits and an improved quality of life. This project is using embedded sensors in physical infrastructure that sends information to smart inhalers
  • One of New Zealand's National Science Challenges, the Building Better Homes, Towns and Cities is designed to tackle the biggest science-based issues and opportunities currently facing New Zealand. The role of the CRCSI within the Challenge is important to its validity because of the existing work in Greening the Greyfields and the Seeing a Better Future Program led by Prof Simon Kingham (University of Canterbury) and Dr Malcolm Campbell (University of Canterbury).

The New Zealand Geospatial Research Conference is being held this week in Christchurch at the University of Canterbury. This event will see the New Zealand Government launch its Geospatial R&D Priorities and Opportunities 2016-20 report. Key team members from the CRCSI will be presenting at this event:

  • Dr Peter Woodgate with a keynote address
  • Dr Anna de Raadt, the New Zealand representative of the CRCSI, will be discussing the new Geospatial Research Strategy
  • Phil Delaney presenting a paper on the NRM Spatial Hub along with hosting a panel event on the Built Environment
  • Kylie Armstrong hosts a Rapid Big Data Solutions Workshop
  • 43pl Chair David Sinclair will participate on a panel discussion on the connection of research partners in New Zealand
  • Prof Wendy Lawson, Chair of the CRCSI Research and Education College will preside over much of the conference in her capacity as University of Canterbury Pro-Vice-Chancellor Science

What’s next on the New Zealand agenda? The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has called for proposals under the 2016 Science Investment Round with NZ$35M available for investment. Further details about this funding opportunity can be found here.

The New Zealand office of the CRCSI is located in Wellington. Please contact Dr Anna de Raadt, Director New Zealand for further details about opportunities to work with the CRCSI in New Zealand.

Create a Sustainable Built Environment

The CRCSI network in conjunction with 43pl has hosted a series of focus workshops. The second in the series was held in Perth on 12 November 2015 themed Create a Sustainable Built Environment.

Hosted by the CRCSI’s Darren Mottolini, Business Development Manager (WA) and Phil Delaney, Program Manager Built Environment, this two hour event highlighted:

  • Current research and developments in the built environment sector
  • Demonstration of tools for rezoning, analysis of existing spatial information (ENVISION) and scenario planning (ESP)
  • Trends
  • Opportunity to input into and shape future research outcomes to meet organisational needs.

Thirteen organisations attended and highlighted four common themes. These are:

Looking for Smart Urban Planning Solutions 

  • Consistent access to data and planning tools (common operating picture toolset) which allow government and private sector organisations to collaborate and make decisions on a common framework
  • Harmonised access to data (reduction of separate licencing/payment, standardised data schema) and planning tools that cross LGA boundaries and act as a communication tool between Local/State Government
  • Smart urban planning tools can meet the above data requirements, however these tools need to be demonstrated with clear case studies and economic benefits and include infrastructure and utility data.

Willingness to use technology to solve planning problems

  • Most organisations have a willingness to adopt new solutions, but often lack the money or staff to effectively test and make change. Reducing the barrier to entry can lead to adoption through new frameworks
  • Show how the tools create links between current processes, work under existing frameworks and can clearly demonstrate a clear value message (that is measurable) is key to helping change occur. 

Quick win solutions

  • An integrated platform for data access, analysis and decision making would provide a great ‘quick win’ to allow government, developers and the community to achieve the best outcome. The platform should reduce any barrier (access/IT/cost etc) to allow organisations to use it
  • All tools need to have financial modelling rigorously tested and case studies to support the capabilities of the software.

How can the CRCSI lower the barriers for adopting new solutions?

  • Access to tools need to be quick, interface needs to be simple, and able to be used by a wide variety of users with both technical and non-technical backgrounds. Licensing, maintenance and future developments need to be clearly defined
  • Early adopters need to be supported with low or no cost access, and clear messages as to why these methods should be used and what the ROI will be (or how to measure this).

This event has led to the building of better, more responsive partnerships between a number of organisations and the tools to create a sustainable built environment. To find out more about scenario planning tools ENVISION and ESP please get in touch with CRCSI Program Manager Phil Delaney.

Details including dates, location and themes for the 2016 series will be available in the coming months. If you are interested in attending this series of focus workshops please contact Jessica Purbrick-Herbst on info@crcsi.com.au

Enhancing Outreach Cooperation

The CRCSI Annual Conference is an opportune time to bring together ideas, build connections and strengthen ties.

DSC 0076

(L-R) Dr Peter Woodgate, CEO, CRCSI, Dr Zaffar Mohamed-Ghouse, Director – NSW Business Development, Research and International Relations, CRCSI and Sanjay Kumar, CEO, GMC

Geospatial Media and Communications (GMC) and the CRCSI have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to enhance cooperation and outreach of the benefits of spatial sciences and research.

This MOU will enable wider reach of the CRCSI research and innovation outcomes through Geospatial Media’s conferences at global and regional levels, its print magazine Geospatial World and video platform GeoBuiz.

“Collaboration with the CRCSI is a landmark development towards forwarding our vision of making difference through geospatial knowledge in world economy and society. The technology and business environment we live in today is in constant transformation, offering exciting opportunities to geospatial professionals. Through this strategic partnership, Geospatial Media would facilitate outreach and scalability of spatial sciences related research innovations at the CRCSI and its adoption across different end user communities worldwide, further enabling commercialisation and entrepreneurial engagement between research, industry and end user communities,” said Sanjay Kumar, CEO, GMC.

"I am very pleased with the new collaboration between two innovative-driven organisations. I see great potential in working closely together,” said Dr Peter Woodgate, CEO, CRCSI.

Recognising Four Outstanding Contributors

Written by freelance writer Karen Cambrell

The CRCSI Annual Awards Ceremony took place in late November during the CRCSI Annual Conference.

CRCSI Awards 2015

(L-R) 2015 CRCSI Award winners – Ben Fitzpatrick, CRCSI PhD Student (Student Excellence Award); Professor David Lamb, CRCSI Science Director & University of New England Precision Agriculture Research Group Leader (Research Excellence Award); Mike Bradford, Chief Executive, Landgate (Chair's Award); and Arthur Berrill, President, DMTI Spatial (Canada) (43pl Company Award)

Hosted at the iconic Melbourne Cricket Ground, the event is in its second year and celebrates and recognises the single contributions to our successes as a CRC across four award categories.

The first award winner is Ben Fitzpatrick for the Student Excellence Award. Ben is a PhD candidate at QUT and his research seeks to understand soil carbon across dryland agricultural areas.

In an interview after the ceremony Ben said “I’m incredibly grateful for the support the CRCSI has provided me through the Education Program. I’ve learned things here that I wouldn’t have at university. For instance, public speaking and connecting with a general audience.”

When asked if he thought the award would open any doors for him, Ben replied “Well, I’ve just had an offer to send my CV to someone, so that might be the sound of a door clicking open right there.”

Prof David Lamb is the winner of the Research Excellence Award. David leads the Precision Agriculture Research Group at the University of New England. He’s also the CRCSI Science Director for Agriculture, Natural Resources and Climate Change. David conceived, designed and leads the Biomass Business project, which is on track to deliver significant on-farm efficiencies. He’s played a significant role in establishing partnerships between the CRCSI and some of Australia’s premier agricultural companies and peak industry body, Meat and Livestock Australia.

”It is extremely humbling. It’s so humbling to get an award like this because [recognition] comes all at once. This whole CRC is a family of people I hold in high esteem and to get something like this is almost overwhelming. Spatial in agriculture is a whole new area, it’s a whole new dimension in the way we farm and so this is an acknowledgment of that – and of all the partners we have in farming, in all the sectors of agriculture”, said David.

Arthur Berrill, based in Toronto Canada, won the 43pl Company Award for his outstanding and long term contribution to the CRCSI for providing his international perspective to the spatial information sector, and for his measured assessment and questioning of complex and technical issues, balancing academic and business perspectives.

“I have to confess, I get as much out of this as I put into it and being engaged with all these fine, bright people is a fantastic experience; being at the front line, looking at the technical submissions that come through – that’s truly exciting”, said Arthur.

Chair of the CRCSI Board, Professor Mary O’Kane presented the Chair’s Award to Mike Bradford. Mike joined the Governing Board of the CRCSI as Director in 2008 and played a pivotal role in planning the bid for CRCSI-2, galvanising the Western Australian spatial community. Mike is Chief Executive of Landgate (an Essential Participant in CRCSI). Landgate, with encouragement from Mike, hosts CRCSI staff in its central office, ensuring strong and ongoing collaboration between the two organisations.

Mike said, “I’m passionate about spatial and the CRCSI, so it’s wonderful to get some recognition of that. I genuinely believe in the collaboration the CRC has brought to bear by bringing together government, academia and the private sector.”

Congratulations to all 2015 Award winners.


In partnership with Curtin University, Swinburne University, University of Melbourne, AURIN and the CRCSI, Envision and the Envision Scenario Planner online urban planning tools project received a commendation at the Planning Institute Australia Annual Awards 2015 in the Cutting Edge Research and Teaching category.

The Award recognised an outstanding achievement in planning scholarship, research or teaching and is awarded for a substantial piece of research or planning education program which makes an outstanding contribution to the understanding of issues relating to planning in Australia. The award seeks to recognise work that extends planning debate with an evidence basis.

The Victorian Awards were held in November in Melbourne.

Congratulations to project partners Dr Roman Trubka, Dr Stephen Glackin, Tuan Ngo, Jack Barton and Phil Delaney (CRCSI Program Manager Built Environment).