Written on the 19 June 2015

WITH an increasing wealth of scientific research coming out of Australia, the question of how to commercialise it all is looming larger and larger.

The Science Next Collaborative (SNC) was recently launched in direct response to challenges faced by scientists, particularly early to mid career researchers, when it comes to commercialisation their research.

The premise is that scientists are entrepreneurs too; they just need to be handed the right tools to realise their potential.

The SNC, founded by Sigma-Aldrich, will bring together leading Australian scientists and facilitate an exchange of knowledge, educational tools and best practice pathways, helping researchers navigate a path to economic returns for their discoveries.

Sigma-Aldrich Oceania director of marketing, inside sales and shared services, Reich Webber-Montenegro, says the SNC will help deliver a missing link to many Australian scientists. 

An online forum has been set up and forums and meetings will be held in selected cities this year where best practice examples of commercialisation will be discussed.

"A thorough examination of the Australian scientific research sector uncovered that many researchers are struggling to achieve the final steps in their research continuum, that being successful commercialisation," says Webber-Montenegro.

"If this risk becomes a reality, Australia may see a huge dip in the innovation ecosystem and associated returns generated by a dynamic research industry."

Associate professor Derek Richard, SNC member and director of research at Queensland University of Technology's School of Biomedical Sciences, says another aim of the initiative is to raise the attractiveness of scientific research as a career.

Richard will represent Queensland as one of seven 'think tank' members participating in the initiative.

"Australia has a world-class reputation for scientific research outputs. We produce 3 per cent of the world's research whilst representing only 0.3 per cent of the population," says Richard.

"However there seems to be additional challenges for today's young researchers. University enrolments in science and the number of PhD students are stalling, which has led to industry-wide concern for Australia's standing as a science and research powerhouse.

"It's usually difficult for young researchers to take their discoveries through to commercialisation, possibly due to a lack of experience in intellectual property protection, market research, lodging patents and gaining working capital, which are all fundamental elements in the commercialisation of research."






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