CSIRO’s ON Accelerate program selects 10 innovative deep-tech startups

CSIRO’s ON Accelerate program selects 10 innovative deep-tech startups

Founders of low-cost nasal vaccine startup SpritzOM (Provided)

From protecting marine wildlife to developing nasal vaccines that prevent ear infections, 10 deep-tech startups have been selected to take part in the CSIRO’s ON Accelerate program, including three that originated from the nation’s leading science agency.

Of the 40 teams that applied, half of them were selected to participate in a bootcamp run by Main Sequence - a CSIRO-led venture capital firm that has backed the likes of Pathzero, Morse Micro, Advanced Navigation, ULUU, Samsara Eco and Swoop Aero.

From that pool of 40, a final 10 were selected to participate in the full program.

The 2023 edition marks the first time in two years that the ON Accelerate program - which received $20 million in 2016 via the government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda - has been run.

Nascent teams selected include biotech v2Algae – a spin-off from CSIRO-backed plant-based protein company v2food which closed a $72 million Series B Plus funding round last year, as well as Monash University regulatory tech outfit DHI and beverage startup Reduced Sugar Juice.

Outgoing CSIRO chief executive Larry Marshall says the program has become a world-leading innovation catalyst because it inspires Australia’s scientists to turn their science into real-world solutions for our greatest challenges.

“As the national science agency, CSIRO solves Australia’s greatest challenges with science, and there is no greater challenge than our innovation dilemma – solve that and we can solve anything,” Marshall says. 

“ON recognises that innovation thrives on diversity and doing things differently. When you redefine old school paradigms of leadership, you can drive financial performance and reinvent industries.”

The CSIRO will be offering up to a total of $30,000 per team to fund their participation, two-thirds of which will be provided to engage specialist expertise and bolster the staff headcount – including hiring an interim CEO, CFO or other key positions.

The remaining $10,000 will be on the table as a performance bonus depending on how the team performs in the program.

The 10 teams moving to the next stage of ON Accelerate are:

  • DHI, connected to Monash University, is harnessing AI to improve regulation technology to better detect and report discrepancies of listed companies’ disclosures.
  • Green Shield, also from Monash University, offers a class of materials that provide unique solutions for object camouflage, including radio frequency shielding.
  • Originating out of the University of Technology Sydney, the v2Algae team is creating a new biotechnology specialty ingredient manufacturing segment for Australia. This team is partnering with another great company, one born out of CSIRO technology, v2food.
  • Rainstick is a northern Queensland startup combining indigenous knowledge systems and modern electrokinetics to encourage fungi and plants’ natural systems to grow faster and increase yield. Rainstick is working with researchers at James Cook University.
  • The SpritzOM team from Telethon Kids Institute is working to develop a low-cost nasal vaccine to prevent ear infections. There are no approved vaccines that successfully targets the major pathogen responsible for the most common ear infections.
  • The Application Development team at WEHI has developed an information system to manage animals in research environments. Through venture creation, the team will deliver a solution that helps organisations working with animals improve their ethical treatment, lower the cost and improve efficiency.
  • Thaum, a startup team from the ANU Research School of Physics deep-tech incubator Momentum, is commercialising WhalePOD. WhalePOD’s disruptive vision capabilities help offshore industries implement harm mitigation strategies to protect marine mammals.
  • Cognitag, a team from CSIRO is helping tap into the phenomenal un-mined potential of Internet of Things connected devices. They’re working to make smart devices even smarter.
  • CSIRO’s Reduced Sugar Juice team is working on naturally reducing the sugar content of juice drinks by up to 70 percent without negatively affecting their nutritional value.
  • CSIRO’s UpCell team has developed a process technology for the super-efficient and scalable production of specialised performance proteins in food-appropriate quality, quantity and cost.

The successful teams will complete immersion week in early February, before undertaking the full 14-week ON Accelerate program.

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