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Cooperative Research Centers Association

Our time to shine

The Cooperative Research Centres Program will be reviewed by business leader, David Miles AM, Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane announced today. The Review was announced on Budget night in May, in line with regular reviews of the CRC Program. Previous reviews have been conducted in 2008 (O'Kane), 2003 (Howard Partners), 1998 (Mercer and Stocker) and 1995 (Myers).
 
"Now is our time to shine," said CEO of the CRC Association, Dr. Tony Peacock.
 
"How many times have you seen calls for closer industry-public research ties; more focussed postgraduate training and greater emphasis on research translation in the past year? It feels like every time prominent industry or science people comment on the Nation's innovation needs, Cooperative Research Centres tick that box," said Peacock. "Our job is to show how well CRCs are meeting those needs and help explore how we can contribute even further. We look forward to that opportunity."
 
"On first glance, the Terms of Reference look very comprehensive and very constructive. The government has asked Mr Miles for a thorough examination, which is what we were expecting."
 
Commentary by Tony Peacock
 
Anyone that could walk in my shoes would know why I am so passionate about the Cooperative Research Centres. I've just ticked over four years in this job, but continue to hear stories from researchers and industry that delight me about how CRCs are performing in various sectors. Just take a few of the examples over the past couple of weeks and you might get a flavour:
  • The CO2 CRC released a new book on the Otway Project, showing the massive progress on carbon capture and storage in the past decade. It's a reality these days and making a contribution to reducing atmospheric CO2. Over 100 peer reviewed journal articles have come out of the Otway project alone, and more importantly, capturing and storing carbon dioxide is part of Chevron's Gorgon project in WA. That is industry-academic linkage on a massive scale - in the tens of billions of dollars of investment. The CO2 CRC has really had a world-leading role in turning carbon capture and storage from an idea to a reality.
  • One of the lead researchers in the Mental Health CRC, Professor Colin Masters, struck a cord with me at a Parliament House breakfast. Colin said he had been in dementia research for over 30 years but the progress in the past few had been extraordinary. On a research level, we can now predict at age 45 whether a person is likely to develop Alzheimer's disease at age 75 to 80. That provides enormous scope to reinforce preventive behaviours like exercise and nutrition known to improve outcomes, which can only have a very limited benefit once the disease becomes apparent. At the Board meeting I attended later, Graeme Prior could not have been more enthusiastic about how the CRC is working. Graeme is the Chief Executive Officer of the Hall + Prior Residential Organisation that provides approximately 1,200 high care residential clients in 80 communities in Perth and Sydney employing 1,300 people. He indicated that his company has important research issues and the CRC has proved to be invaluable in taking on those issues.
  • Speaking to researchers and clinicians yesterday at the opening of the Cancer Therapeutics CRC, they talked about the extraordinary gains we are making in cancer research. The CRC has drawn them together in new ways that has pathways to practice and biotechnology companies to speed up solutions to two of the big issues - metastatic disease and kids cancers. The process of metastasis leads to secondary cancers, which are the cause of 90% of cancer deaths. Kid's cancers are the biggest killer of children in Australia but are a range of quite rare diseases, so the CRC serves a great role in bringing many players together. It is inspiring stuff to see oncologist's listing off on their fingers the new range of options they are getting to treat patients in these areas.
I even noticed that Invasive Animals CRC announced the US patents for a new feral pig poison were granted last week and coincidentally the Federal and Queensland Environment Ministers launched a new program of protecting sea turtle nests from feral pigs. That work originated from a joint workshop held by the Rainforest CRC and the Pest Animal Control CRC in 2003 where both environmental and agricultural players were crying out for better solutions for feral pigs. The options at that time were large doses of 1080 poison via meat or grains, which tend to have too many non-target problems; or through warfarin or phosphate, which have welfare problems. Since that time, the Pest Animal Control CRC (and its successor the Invasive Animals CRC) have worked with a Melbourne business and environmental and agricultural agencies to deliver new options. It might not seem like a big thing, but when you realise a single feral pig can potentially gobble up an entire year of sea turtle eggs on a beach, then someone has to come up with something new. Public agencies generally can't develop a suitable product and private companies generally can't meet the massive regulatory issues involved. A CRC that brings those participants together addresses the market failure and makes Australia a better place in both financial and environmental ways.
 
So I see the Review as an opportunity to point out how the CRC Program contributes. But the CRC Association's submission and views won't be the most important for the Review. The CRC Program is an end-user driven program. So it is the end-users of research:  the business; the patient groups; the State agencies and NGOs - all those that are most affected by the research of the CRCs that need to let their views be known. The Review will need to hear how the Program works for them, and whether improvements can be made.
 
(Editor's disclaimer: Dr Peacock is a former CEO of the Pest Animal Control and Invasive Animals CRCs. The above paragraph has been edited from its original 2000 words).

Mental Health CRC Researcher Wins Victoria Prize

Professor Ashley Bush, Chief Scientific Officer of the Mental Health CRC, was recently awarded the prestigious Victoria Prize for Science and Innovation in the Life Sciences. Professor Bush’s research is offering hope to those facing age-related cognitive decline. He has championed trial of a class of drugs showing great promise in both animals and humans.

Victoria Innovation Minister, the Hon. Louise Asher MP, announced 12 Victoria Fellowships at the same ceremony. Three went to researchers working with CRCs in areas as diverse as C02 capture and storage, autism and pathogens and in recreational waterways.
 

Alex Sloan chats with Tony Peacock & Ian Chubb, Australia’s Chief Scientist On 666 Afternoons

Apply for a Postgraduate Spatial Sciences Course at Curtin University. 

Curtin University is home to Australia and New Zealand’s largest independent spatial sciences department dedicated to research and teaching. Enjoy state-of-the-art facilities in the Landgate Spatial Science Studios as well as flexible study via online and distance courses.

Visit spatial.curtin.edu.au/courses today!

Sold out Research Day kicks off for Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC conference week

Nearly 1100 emergency services representatives and researchers converged on Wellington, New Zealand, in early September for the annual Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC and Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Authorities Council (AFAC) conference.

The conference is the leading knowledge sharing event for fire, land management and emergency services, with delegates attending from across Australia and New Zealand, as well as the US, Canada, UK, South Korea and many Pacific Islands.

This year’s event saw the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC partner with AFAC, taking over from its predecessor the Bushfire CRC. The research of the CRC was on show all week, but kicking off the conference on day one was the sold out Research Forum. With 400 delegates, the Forum showed why research and innovation are vital precursors for safer communities and better environmental management. 31 researchers from universities and agencies across Australia, New Zealand and the US covered the latest research into severe weather, community safety, heatwaves, flood risk, the economics of natural hazards, infrastructure planning, fire modelling and volunteer management.

Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC CEO, Dr Richard Thornton, said the conference showed why research and innovation are more important now than ever.

“The week was a great opportunity for all emergency management practitioners to learn what we are discovering about the biggest challenges in emergency management across Australasia, especially learning from New Zealand’s Canterbury earthquake experience, and finding ways to use this knowledge every day to make our communities safer,” Dr Thornton said.

Hazards science researchers, industry workers, and community groups can access all conferences proceedings, and select audio and video presentations, through both the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC and AFAC websites.

Dr Richard Thornton Chief Executive Officer Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC.

CRC for Mental Health parliamentary breakfast

The CRC for Mental Health hosted a breakfast at Australian Parliament House with parliamentarians and key stakeholders on 3rd September. The event covered several key themes:
  • There is an urgent need to be able to diagnose mental illnesses early and accurately.
     
  • Having the ability to make accurate and early diagnoses would improve our ability to diagnose mental health conditions in the early stages of disease development, allowing us to monitor disease progression as well as assess responses to drug treatments, leading to better outcomes for people with these illnesses.
     
  • The CRC’s involvement of endusers throughout the research process has placed Australia in a strong position to contribute to a commercially available blood test for a mental illness, with the potential to reach a global market
     
  • The CRC program provides an effective mechanism for bringing together researchers, industry and endusers to seek innovative ways to approach research challenges. In the case of the CRC for Mental Health, this structure has meant that the Australian Government’s investment of $23 million has been amplified by cash and in-kind investment by the CRC’s Participant organisations to a total of some $70 million.
The Hon Peter Dutton MP, Minister for Health spoke, and 40 parliamentarians and stakeholders attended.

"It was encouraging to see strong interest in collaborative research and mental health from all who attended," said Tony Peacock, CRC Association CEO.
Panel featuring CRC scientists Profs Ashley Bush, Colin Masters, Brian Dean and Andrew Thirlwell (Pfizer)
Minister Peter Dutton and CRC board.

Exceptional talent attracted to bold Brisbane G20 venture

Professor Tony Wong, Chief Executive of the CRC for Water Sensitive Cities, is a confirmed speaker at the Brisbane Global Café.

The Brisbane Global Cafe will spark online discussion around five key themes – Improving Human Life; Powering Future Economies- Energy; The Digital Age - Entrepreneurship & Innovation; Tourism’s New Frontiers; Cities of the Future – ahead of the G20 Leaders' Summit in Brisbane on November 2014.
 
Click here for more information.

Antarctic seals going where no scientist can

A small army of elephant seals fitted with satellite transmitters are helping the world’s climate scientists get a better understanding of the oceans in one of the discipline’s most important regions, the Antarctic.

Click here to read more.
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17-19 September 2014
ARMS 2014 Canberra Think Impact and Influence
Our Conference Committee has been working hard to develop a program that will be topical and engaging for all tastes. ARMS 2014 will continue to offer a varied program of keynote speakers, round table discussions, clinical and a wide selection of oral and poster presentations.

Click here to register.

24-25 September - Melbourne
2014 Writing Clear Science Workshops
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25 September, Canberra
Community and stakeholder engagement for science and technology issues
This interactive course will introduce approaches to two-way engagement between organisations and their stakeholders including members of the general public

For more information click here.

14-15 October, Sydney
National Water Policy Summit 2014
The National Policy Summit will focus on setting the priorities to shape an ‘industry-led’ water strategy to drive Australia’s future prosperity.

Click here for more information.

20-21 October 2014, Melbourne Convention Center
AutoCRC 3rd Technical Conference

Driving  Automotive innovation – Vehicle Electrification, Alternative Vehicle Energy and Sustainable Manufacturing

click here for more information

21-22 October 2014 Melbourne
Water Sensitive Cities Conference 2014
The inaugural Water Sensitive Cities Conference is coming to Melbourne in 2014.

Click here for more information

13-15 November, Sydney
2014 Writing Clear Science Workshops

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Cooperative Research News is published fortnightly by the Cooperative Research Centres Association and distributed free of charge. The CRC Association welcomes contributions but does not guarantee the accuracy, reliability, currency or completeness of any material published, or in any linked site. The material in this Newsletter may include the views or recommendations of third parties, which do not necessarily reflect the views of the CRC Association, or indicate its commitment to a particular course of action. Editorial responsibility is accepted by Professor Tony Peacock, Chief Executive, Cooperative Research Centres Association. Inquiries about publication should be directed here.

                                                                      

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