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CSIRO has graduated the first cohort of five startups out of its pre-accelerator program


The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has graduated its first cohort of companies from ‘ON Connect@Lindfield’, an initiative designed to drive small business innovation and supported by the NSW Government’s $12 million Boosting Business Innovation Program (BBIP).

Five companies took part in an intensive eight-week pre-accelerator experience designed for hardware startups in the devices and Internet of Things (IoT) space.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW, Small Business and Skills, John Barilaro, said the ON Connect program was designed to arm start-ups with the business knowledge, connections and technical expertise to refine their business model, seek funding and apply for acceleration.

“The inaugural ON Connect@Lindfield program is a great example of how the NSW Government is supporting and encouraging collaboration between research and industry to drive innovation,” Mr Barilaro said.

“On their eight-week journey these five businesses have had access to some of the brightest minds and best facilities in Australia to develop their innovative ideas. After an intensive journey of customer interviews, market analysis and business model validation the teams are ready to share the outcomes of their experience.”

Which startups have been selected by CSIRO?

ON Connect@Lindfield was funded through the NSW Government’s $12 million Boost program which aims to accelerate innovation in NSW by supporting greater collaboration between the state’s universities and the CSIRO with their local business communities.

The five companies graduating are:

  • AGSOL – Solar powered mill for people living in poverty-stricken areas.
  • Orbit Australia – PollenSmart app for asthma sufferers.
  • 1BTN – IoT product re-ordering solution.
  • Connected Control Systems – IoT security system for construction sites.
  • Cleverheart – Pay as you go solar energy solution for developing countries.

CSIRO Lindfield Collaboration Hub operations manager, Katie Green, said the teams were selected for the program on the basis of the problem they identified and potential to deliver significant positive impact.

“The final presentation day was one of the most important parts of the program, allowing the teams to pitch their ideas to potential research and industry partners to further develop their business model. It was their opportunity to show how their ideas can become a reality – it’s a very exciting time for our five teams,” she said.

Agsol: a great CSIRO case study

CSIRO ON Connect@Lindfield participant Agsol has developed transformational solar-powered technology in a bid to help some of the world’s 1.1 billion people who live off the grid and have no access to electricity.

Agsol founders Matt Carr and Greg Denn have built a revolutionary product: a solar powered mill for those living without power in poverty-stricken regions such as Africa, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific islands.

The cloud-connected agro-processing machine converts harvested staple foods, such as maize, rice and cassava, into edible high-value products and also produces power on a transformative scale to power a house, school, health clinic or nano-grid.

Matt Carr
Matt Carr

Mr Carr said most of the people living off the grid are farmers and their best chance to step out of poverty is through improved agriculture.

“By providing a technology solution to improve agriculture but linking technology to solar means there is now an energy solution. It could power a water purifier, a fridge, or even a community office server for computers,” he said.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW, Small Business and Skills, John Barilaro, said AGSOL had the potential to lift thousands of people out poverty.

“1.1 billion of the world’s poorest people have no access to electricity. The majority of them are farmers who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods,” Mr Barilaro said.

“Matt and Greg’s machines will save lives by providing electricity and food for the world’s poorest people. It is impressive technology which is providing a social good.”

How has CSIRO helped Agsol?

Mr Carr said the CSIRO pre-accelerator program, supported by the NSW Government’s Boost program, had allowed them to develop a maize flower mill to establish a business base in east Africa from early 2018.

“The program has been fabulous and we were provided the opportunity to tap into their technological expertise,” he said. “It’s been invaluable for us as we are about to start developing our second generation product.

“It really clarified some key technical decisions and helped us think through the product development plan. In 2016 we sold 300 of our first generation solar machines and we are set to sell 600-800 in 2017, primarily in the Pacific region.

“Our R&D has been shaped by the CSIRO program and all our R&D is going to happen in Australia. We are looking to develop one machine to be a best in class machine which will be ready by the end of the year.”