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Thinking globally 2

Posted: 29 September 2017
Keep track of innovation agency news from around the world with another global update from Callaghan Innovation’s International Manager Cliff Fuller.

Thinking Globally 2



Government research organisation, CSIRO, has released a Food & Agribusiness Roadmap for the food industry in Australia. The aim is to promote improved collaboration and knowledge-sharing to generate scale, efficiency, agility and enhance competitiveness. Callaghan Innovation is working on a similar sector plan for New Zealand with its food and beverage team.  

A CSIRO food structure team has just launched a three-year study into the personalised fabrication of smart foods —3D printed and containing nutritional contents customised to the eater. The idea is to develop a personal food manufacturing system that could create “tailored diets” based on an individual’s genetic information, physiological state, and lifestyle. The development of new plant-based synthetic food and nutrition products, a major global trend, is directly relevant to New Zealand’s own future food industry. Read more…

Brisbane company Printed Energy is developing ultra-thin flexible printed batteries for use in new products, including Internet of Things devices, wearable electronics, healthcare products and industrial-scale solar energy storage. The company received $2 million from the Government’s Cooperative Research Council Project (CRC-P) grants to accelerate work on the technology. The CRC aims to improve collaboration between researchers and industry - the University of Queensland is one of Printed Energy’s project partners - to cultivate a more innovative and entrepreneurial economy. Callaghan Innovation’s Energy and Environment sector team is similarly working to bring companies together in New Zealand. 



Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, is sweeping the world. In Denmark, Sweden and Singapore the construction industry has recognised the huge flexibility this offers in design, cheapness of materials and speed of production - especially for public housing. A new construction project in Nyborg, a collaboration between the municipality and architect Ivan Moltke, will make use of 3D printed elements. Read more… 



Researchers everywhere are looking at new ways to produce food. A Finnish project has created a batch of single-cell protein using just electricity, water, carbon dioxide and microbes, in a small portable lab. The product is edible and nutritious enough to be used for cooking or livestock feed, and the research team hopes the system can eventually be used to grow food in areas where it's most needed. The project is a collaboration between the Government research institute VTT, and Lappeenranta University of Technology. Read more at and



The Stroke Research Group at IT Sligo is using mirror therapy to help stroke patients improve the strength and mobility of affected limbs. They use mirrors to “trick” the brain into believing that a weak limb is functioning properly, thus kick- starting a recovery process. Following clinical trials on more than 60 patients, Enterprise Ireland this month granted the team €15,000 to investigate the feasibility of developing the product commercially. Callaghan Innovation’s Assistive Devices team in Christchurch is also very active in this area, with one notable success being collaboration with AbleX Healthcare’s games solution. 

The Medtech sector in Ireland is flourishing, with 39,000 people expected to be working in the industry by 2020, according to a recent survey by the Irish Medtech Association. The survey was published to mark the launch of the Irish Medtech Awards co-hosted with Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland (the former Industrial Development Authority). Callaghan Innovation is working closely with the Consortium for Medical Device Technologies (CMDT) and MedTech Centre of Research Excellence in New Zealand, and plans to take a group of medtech companies to Houston Medical Precinct in March 2018. 

Preparing businesses for Brexit and helping them make the most of the new Europe is ongoing, and central to this is managing and recruiting people. "Even those companies that do have a Brexit strategy often fail to communicate it to managers and employees, leaving them in the dark as to where their roles fit," Enterprise Ireland’s Karen Hernandez notes. Enterprise Ireland is supporting SMEs to put in place the HR, management and people practices that will help them scale successfully. They have a client business diagnostic which helps companies identify management and people gaps which could potentially inhibit growth. Read more at

The Internet of Things (IoT) is attracting attention from entrepreneurs, investors and engineers alike. Wia, a Dublin-based start-up that aims to be the “Stripe for the Internet of Things” (IoT), has raised €750,000 in seed funding as it looks to expand globally. Its offering is a cloud platform that enables developers to turn sensor-based hardware into IoT devices. The funding round was led by Waterford-based venture capital (VC) firm Suir Valley Ventures, with participation from Enterprise Ireland. Wia, a former participant in the National Digital Research Centre’s LaunchPad programme, has partnerships with a number of leading technology companies including Twilio. Callaghan Innovation’s own IoT & Data Solutions team is actively working with New Zealand companies to develop their own IoT solutions. 

Irish biotech company MicroGen Biotech is developing products that use microbes, the broad range of single-celled organisms found all around us, to increase crop yield, improve food safety, and promote soil health. They use a platform technology called the “Constructed Functional Microbiome” to regenerate depleted or polluted agricultural land. This technology identifies a set of microbes that, once introduced into the soil, can reduce pollutants found in crops while improving yields and overall soil quality. Read more…

The Government has set an ambitious goal for Ireland to be recognised as an Innovation Island by 2020. It supports this through agencies like Enterprise Ireland and IDA which assist companies on the journey of digital transformation. With nearly half of business leaders believing digital disruption may render them obsolete within the next five years, organisations need a proactive strategy covering the transformation of IT, the workforce and security. Read more… 



Startup ecosystems are becoming increasingly international. A competition in Ireland to attend Israel’s Start TLV at the DLD tech conference in Tel Aviv (a major tech event in Israel) is now seen as a must-win rite of passage for Irish start-ups. “Ireland and Israel are two small countries on the opposite edges of Europe with many similarities in terms of innovation, entrepreneurship and technology focus,” Clyde Hutchinson of Start TLV Ireland notes. Eight start-ups have been shortlisted for the Irish leg of Start TLV, half of them are led by women entrepreneurs. Previous winners have used the event as a stepping stone for wins in national and international competitions, and to enhance reputation in their markets. Callaghan Innovation’s CEO, Vic Crone, has recently returned from a visit to Israel to learn from their innovation strategies and explore areas for collaboration. 



Data Science is a new discipline now being included in many technology strategies. A Norwegian delegation visited Imperial College’s Data Science Institute in London to see first-hand the possibilities of AI and data science for the public sector. “In every country in Europe big data and digitalisation is high on the agenda,” Vegard Aas, Innovation Chief at Telenor, says. The Minister leading the delegation noted that “International collaborations are very important to Norway. We want to see the best and the brightest studying in Norway and for our Norwegian students to study and work abroad too. It’s important we all learn from each other and become front runners in what we do.” Callaghan Innovation’s data science team at Gracefield is in high demand by New Zealand companies, while global connectedness is increasingly central in the early stages of our hi-tech business development. 



Micro-fabrication, the art of making things smaller, is now going to microscopic lengths. Scotland’s growing reputation as a hub for micro-satellite manufacturing has been boosted as Glasgow firm Alba Orbital prepares to launch what it claims is the “world’s cheapest, lightest and smallest satellite”.  This PocketCube class gadget, weighing just half a kilo and about the size of a soft drink can, is capable of sending signals across 360,000km of space and will be commercially launched next year. Alba Orbital, founded in 2013 and now employing 11 people, initially relied on crowdfunding for investment. It has since won awards from Scottish Enterprise and the European Space Agency. Read more…



Multi-nationals see Singapore as a great hub for innovation in Asia. A Norwegian firm, Telenor, has decided to base its centre for innovation in Singapore rather than Oslo.  Why Singapore? “It’s a great hub for innovation in Asia, and it’s where start-ups come when they’re ready to scale, from Thailand, the Philippines and the rest. It’s a great place to be for start-ups, and there’s lots of talent here,” said Vergard Aas, Innovation Chief at Telenor. New Zealand is working on an enhanced relationship with Singapore that could see greater collaboration on innovation in the coming year.

A successful startup is JobTech, an Artificial Intelligence and Big Data Analytics technology start-up that provides real-time labour market intelligence and optimised job matching tools. The core technology took top researchers at the Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R), a part of the Government’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), ten years to build.  JobTech uses AI to guide job fit by providing accurate job openings and identifying in-demand skills in nine key sectors: information and communications technology, banking and finance, electronics and semiconductor, biotech and pharmaceuticals, government, energy and chemicals, marine and offshore, healthcare, and logistics. Read more at

A*STAR will soon launch the Model Factory@SIMTech (SIMTech is the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology) and Model Factory@ARTC (ARTC is the Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre). A*STAR’s '’  simulates production environments where companies can learn and experiment with new manufacturing technologies. This allows SMEs to test new technologies with the help of public sector researchers, before using in their own factories. Read more…

Another A*STAR team, led by Dr Yao Kui in the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering, has been working on a window-mounted sheet of transparent film that plays music and blocks unwanted noise. It is result of collaboration between A*Star, the Housing Board and the National Environment Agency. The A*Star material is piezoelectric – it moves in response to changes in electrical voltage – unlike regular speakers which are set in motion by electromagnets. Audio technologies will play an important role in the future, and are at the heart of the work of Mark Poletti’s team at Callaghan Innovation.

Singapore’s government has earmarked S$150 million for Cities of Tomorrow, an urban solutions R&D programme focusing on smarter ways to build and maintain infrastructure, create new spaces and enhance the living environment. The initiative aims to address issues of the built-up environment, such as whether you can reduce indoor noise without sacrificing natural ventilation, or cut the cost of underground development, as Singapore strives to move utilities, warehousing and storage facilities underground to free up more land on the surface. The Cities of Tomorrow programme will tap the S$900 million set aside for Urban Solutions and Sustainability under Singapore’s Research Innovation and Enterprise 2020 plan. 


South Korea

Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in Daejon recently showcased ten cutting-edge technologies it has been developing. Drawing on advances in nanofibers, wearable sensors, data analytics, data security, neuro-imaging, digital software, metrology, robotics and 5G networks. New Zealand recently took part in the fourth New Zealand – Korea Joint Committee on Science and Technology meeting, where delegates discussed the potential for cooperation between Callaghan Innovation and Korea’s National Research Council of Science and Technology (NST). 


United Kingdom

The Technology Strategy Board (Innovate UK) is the UK’s innovation agency, has recently published its 2016/2017 Annual Report. Innovate UK is a non-departmental arms-length body sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Innovate UK has established 11 technology development centres called Catapults. The Catapults focus on specific industries: Cell and Gene Therapy, Compound Semiconductor Applications, Digital, Energy Systems, Future Cities, High Value Manufacturing, Medicines Discovery, Offshore Renewable Energy, Precision Medicine, Satellite Applications and Transport Systems. Each Catapult bridges the gap between research and development in universities or companies, and markets hungry for product innovation, advanced solutions and new ways of doing things. Working with its specialist sector each looks to tackle issues of strategic national significance for future growth, trade and productivity. "We are here to identify the research that needs to be conducted on certain technologies. Conduct the research today so it could be implemented in five years-time or 10 years-time,” Neil Fulton of the Transport Systems Catapult says.  

Innovate UK challenged businesses to develop new digital healthcare solutions, offering £8 million to support successful proposals. The Digital Health Technology Catalyst aims to speed up the development of digital technologies to support Britain’s National Health Service (NHS). The Catalyst will ultimately provide supporting funds of £35 million. Innovate UK is looking for feasibility or development projects aimed at improving patient outcomes, such as through better clinical decision-making or enabling people to manage their own care. Other priorities are to reduce the demand on the NHS, to make it more efficient and create savings. Projects can receive up to 70 percent of their eligible costs, with a range of £50,000-£75,000 for feasibility studies, lasting up to a year, and £500,000 to £1 million for industrial research and experimental projects, lasting up to three years. Read more…

The British government has responded to the changing world of international business and industry by setting up UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) with a of £6 billion budget. “Research is a global activity and operates in an international landscape; no one nation can go it alone and scientists need to be able to work together and pool their knowledge and understanding,” says Sir Mark Walport, UKRI CEO designate. One particular challenge is smart manufacturing. “Industry 4.0 is seeing the fusion of physical and digital science with technology. We are living in a world where business is being driven by the availability of data and the ability to analyse it in new ways. We are seeing a blurring between manufacturing and services and need to maintain the value of resources for much longer in this increasingly circular economy,” Sir Mark says. Callaghan Innovation is giving priority to Industry 4.0 and Internet of Things (IoT), building on the lessons learned from a delegation to Germany earlier this year that included a visit to Hanover Messe.



The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has played a major role in the development of new technologies in the US, such as employing a network of miniaturised sensors in remote locations which use the absolute minimum amount of power. Matteo Rinaldi, Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Northeastern, was awarded a grant to build a new type of sensor that consumes no power whatsoever in standby mode. When the sensor recognises a specific infrared wavelength signature, it uses the tiny amount of power contained in the infrared radiation to wake itself up. Then it triggers an “output wake-up bit” or a voltage signal, that could alert soldiers or others to an event of interest, such as an approaching vehicle. Rinaldi’s sensor design is described in a new paper, published last week in Nature Nanotechnology.

New defence industry technologies will be showcased at the Defense Innovation Summit  in October in Tampa, Florida. The Summit includes challenges in five priority areas – medical, energy, cyber security, electronic systems and space technologies. Next year‘s summit will be in Anaheim, co-located with TechConnect World Innovation on 13-16 May 2018. Callaghan Innovation led a successful delegation of twelve companies to TechConnect in 2016.

The US leads the world in supporting the growth and scale-up of startups. Startup accelerators have been a critical component in the creation of thousands of businesses, including familiar names such as Airbnb, Twitch, Stripe, Dropbox, Twilio, Simple, Pluto TV and ClassPass. Accelerators combine education, capital, co-working space, product-development support and access to a strong support network. They enable companies that are ready for venture capital to quickly get up to steam. A recent article looked at the unique features of seven of the top accelerators – Y Combinator, 500 Startups, Techstars, MassChallenge, Plug and Play, Coplex and Dreamit. 

Contact Cliff Fuller

Twitter: @cliftonjfuller 

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