6.7 SEMINARS

6.7 SEMINARS

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SKILLS
BCIA Workshop Builds Knowledge and Skills for Early-Career Researchers

During March, BCIA held a one day workshop for early-career researchers with an interest in coal and energy technologies. Workshop registrations exceeded expectations with almost 40 PhD and Post-Doctoral students participating on the day.

The workshop, titled ‘Taking Technologies out of the Laboratory: Challenges and Opportunities’, enabled participants to hear from professionals with experience in delivering and financing projects that have transitioned from the research laboratory into the commercial world.

A broad range of presenters from across industry, research and technology development provided insights into how to effectively plan and structure research projects and taking the actions necessary to ensure the best opportunity for translating research outcomes into on-the-ground actions.

The workshop opened with an address by Prof. Robin Batterham, Kernot Professor of Engineering at the University of Melbourne. Prof. Batterham’s address detailed where R&D is required to combat global warming and how academic and industry R&D can deliver significant outcomes.

Participants heard from a number of speakers with experience in delivering and financing projects which have transitioned from the laboratory into the commercial world, including Dr Ken Anderson, Founder and Chief Scientific Officer for US-based coal-to-liquids company, Thermaquatica, and Dr Bruce Godfrey, former Managing Director of Ceramic Fuel Cells Limited.

BCIA Chief Executive, Dr Phil Gurney, shared his experience as a founder and former Managing Director of VPIsystems; a spin-out company from the University of Melbourne, while BCIA Research Investment Manager, Dr David McManus, detailed lessons learned from the commercialisation of a novel, anti-oxidant-rich dietary fibre product made from pineapple waste.

Southern Cross Venture Partners Investment Director, Dr Mark Bonnar, provided a valuable insight into project evaluation processes and practical advice on how to – and how not to – engage with potential investors. Throughout the workshop, participants also learned important tools to help them develop a value proposition, ‘elevator pitch’ and an action plan for their project.

The workshop strongly emphasised skills development for early-career researchers including identifying technology benefits to potential customers, developing a strategic value proposition, communicating with non-academic audiences and building an effective project action plan.


Dr Gurney said a major feature of the workshop was the opportunity for participants to put into immediate practice tools and techniques covered by presenters. The workshop coincided with a networking event, with industry representatives invited to hear each student present a one minute pitch on their research project.

A post-workshop survey among course participants strongly endorsed the skill-building orientation of the workshop and the feedback provided to students by facilitators.

Dr Gurney told workshop participants: “With increasing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, there is a pressing need to ensure that R&D outcomes translate into on-the-ground projects. Translational R&D is vital if we are to deliver the changes required to ensure environmentally sustainable use of brown coal and increase the adoption of a range of new energy technologies.

“There are many challenges to be addressed including the need to reduce the cost of large-scale deployments of low-emissions coal, carbon capture and renewable energy technologies and the need to improve process efficiency and reduce overall energy use,” Dr Gurney said.

“Given the timescale for required actions, it will be the current generation of researchers that will deliver the necessary technology developments.“


Above: Prof. Batterham opens the workshop and sets the scene for the day.




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