Melbourne Accelerator Program 2014 Launch Party

When: Thursday 10 July, 6 – 9pm
Where: Woodward Conference Centre, Level 10, Law Building, The University of Melbourne

The Melbourne Accelerator Program Launch Party marks the official opening of the University of Melbourne’s startup incubator program for 2014, where we showcase our cohort of MAP14 Entrepreneurial Fellows. Also in attendance will be MAP13 Fellows to share with you the highlights of their progress over the past 12 months.

The MAP14 Entrepreneurial Fellows are:

  • Pathobin – pathology photography image hosting service for pathologists, scientists, surgeons and students. Pathobin digitises microscopic slides to improve patient diagnosis, cancer research and education and allows for crowd-sourced research.
  • xLabs – has developed the first eye-gaze tracking solution that works with an ordinary webcam, doesn’t restrict your movement or need continuous recalibration.
  • Brosa – is a marketplace helping industrial designers manufacture and sell unique homeware products to consumers. Industrial designers turn their real life ideas into products and make money by selling to a community of homeware lovers.
  • SCANN3D – provides a 3D visualisation service that pioneers the next generation of real estate marketing content.
  • Financial Ask – helps you to make the correct financial decisions. By connecting qualified advisors with consumers it provides financial advice for those who could not afford it previously.
  • Quanticare Technologies – builds healthcare solutions which enable data-driven clinical encounters through the development of novel monitoring and tracking technology. For example, the first product developed by Quanticare is is a sensor enabled walking frame which facilitates better mobility and prevents falls in the elderly.

About MAP

The Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP) is the preeminent entrepreneurship program in Australia. MAP was recently ranked 13th in the world in UBI Index’s ranking of University startup incubators. MAP offers support through a range of workshops, programs and events for entrepreneurs at all stages of development. These activities are designed to enhance the quality of the entrepreneurial talent pool and include MAP Public Forums, the MAP Master Class Series, Startup Velocity, Escape Velocity and Specialist Feeder Programs.

Top startups are awarded Entrepreneurial Fellowships through our competitive selection process which grants access to the MAP Startup Accelerator. Entrepreneurial Fellowships include $20,000 funding, access to office space and unparalleled networking opportunities, mentoring and the stamp of approval from the University of Melbourne.

Thas Nirmalathas appointed new Director of the Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society

Professor Thas Nirmalathas
Professor Thas Nirmalathas

Professor Thas Nirmalathas of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, has been appointed the Director of the University of Melbourne’s Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society (IBES), replacing Laureate Professor Rod Tucker who retired in August 2013.

IBES is the University of Melbourne’s interdisciplinary research institute examining the applications of broadband technology for the benefit of society. IBES conducts broadband research across four themes: business and government, culture and community, education and learning and health and ageing.

Professor Nirmalathas was previously Associate Director of IBES and was Head of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering from 2010 – 2012. Professor Nirmalathas was also the Research Group Manager of the Networked Systems Group of Victoria Research Laboratory (VRL) at the National ICT Australia (NICTA) between 2006 and 2008.

He is currently the Director of the Melbourne Accelerator Program, the University of Melbourne’s startup incubator, which has just been ranked 13th in the world by the UBI index. He is also an Associate Editor of IEEE/OSA Journal of Lightwave Technology, and a Senior Member of IEEE, a member of Optical Society of America and a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers Australia.

The Melbourne School of Engineering congratulates Professor Nirmalathas on his appointment.


MSE scores 7 new ARC linkage grants

The Melbourne School of Engineering has secured seven lead ARC Linkage grants and 2 non-lead grants, in the latest round of linkage grant funding announced today, attracting close to $4 million in ARC and partner organisation funding.  Professor Iven Mareels said that the School was excited about working on these new linkage projects with its partner organisations.

ARC Linkage Projects:

Discovering Patterns using Near Unsupervised Leaning to Support the Quick Detection of New Animal Disease Outbreaks Caused by Viruses

Research staff: Prof Saman Halgamage, Dr Bill Chang, Dr Arthur L. Hsu, Dr Isaam Saeed, Adj/ Professor Peter W Walker, Dr Jason Li and Dr Sen-Lin Tang

Partner Organisations: YourGene Biosciences Australia Pty Ltd, Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Biodiversity Research Center

Without the capability to identify and study the vast majority of extant viruses using traditional laboratory techniques, emerging threats to Australian livestock cannot be efficiently diagnosed or treated. By developing new computational methods to broaden the detection and analysis of unknown viruses, this project aims to enhance understanding of causative viral agents of animal diseases.

Advanced Signal Processing for Radiation Spectroscopy

Research staff: Prof Jonathan H Manton, Professor Robin H Evans, Professor Michael J Manton and Mr Paul A Scoullar

Partner Organisations: Southern Innovation Trading Pty Ltd

Radiation can be accurately detected and measurement, but sometimes real-time signal processing can lead to the overlapping of pulses. Recent advances, however, have developed innovate ways of filtering by using innovative pulse processing algorithms. Commercially and scientifically, across many fields such as medicine and mineral exploration, it is expected that these algorithms will have a widespread impact.

An innovative light weight composite panel system for high speed modular construction

Research Staff: Dr Tuan D Ngo, Prof Hong Hao, Prof Jose L Torero Cullen, Prof Priyan Mendis, prof Jay G Sanjayan, Dr Hamid R Ronagh and Mr David Visser

Partner Organisation: Speedpanel Australia Ltd

This project aims to develop an innovative composite panel system using aerated geopolymer and a thin high strength steel casing. This new panel system aims to provide multiple improvements, including life-cycle costs and lowering our carbon footprint. By addressing these challenges, this research project will work to provide design guidelines to progress technologies in Australia and overseas.

Environmentally Sustainable Solvents for Natural Pharmaceutical Extraction Processes

Research Staff: Prof Geoff W Stevens, Dr Campbell Scott and Mr Timothy A Bowser

Partner Organisation: GlaxoSmithKline Australia Pty Ltd

Australia supplies 25 per cent of the world’s pain relieving medicinal opiates, contributing to $200 million export industry in Australia. However, there are environmental concerns associated with the production of these medicines. This project will examine the use of environmentally sustainable bio-derived natural solvents, which could replace volatile organic compounds (VOC).

Effective software vulnerability detection for web services

Research Staff: Prof Peter J Stuckey, A/Prof Harald C Sondergaard, Dr Peter Schachte, Dr Cristina Cifuentes and Dr Andrew E N Santosa

Partner Organisation: Oracle Corporation Australia Pty Limited

Injection attacks and security threats are pervasive in today’s modern world. This project aims to design and implement better methods of discovering vulnerabilities in software and tracking the absence of vulnerabilities. In addition, as the strings used by programming language can make it difficult to extract trusted code, this project also aims to develop novel program analysis tools to support sophisticated automated reasoning about string manipulating software.

Maximising value in underground mine planning

Research Staff: Prof Doreen A Thomas, Prof Marcus N Brazil, prof Joachim H Rubinstein and Dr John R Andrews

Partner Organisations: Rand Mining N L, Tribune Resources N L

Mining is crucial to Australia’s economy, contributing 8 per cent of GDP and 55 per cent of the value of goods exported, yet is faced with many issues. This project aims to develop innovative techniques to optimise the design of access network and production of scheduling in an underground mine, maximising the value of the operation’s life. Ultimately, this aims to develop strategies which increases efficiency and sustainability of Australian mines, foster our competitiveness in the industry

Predicting water quality at the catchment scale: learning from two decades of monitoring

Research Staff: Andrew Western, Dr Dongryeol, Dr James A Webb, Dr Paul J Leahy, Dr Eva Sabine G Schreiber, Mr Malcolm D Watson, Mr David K Waters and Mr Robert Goudey

Partner Organisations: Victorian Environment Protection Authority, Bureau of Meteorology, Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries, Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines

Poor water quality affects many rivers and receiving waters such as the Great Barrier Reef and Gippsland Lakes. By using Bayesian hierarchical models of statewide water quality, this project aims to underpin a new predictive capacity including response to land use and management changes and climatic variations based on long term data sets.

In addition to these MSE lead grants, Professor Abbas Rajabifard has been awarded a Linkage Project with collaborators at Monash University to secure transport infrastructure in extreme events. Dr Tony Wirth, from Computing and Information Systems, teams with information systems alumnus Yann Burden and his company Billcap Pty Ltd plus colleagues from the Faculty of Business and Economics to investigate how IT is transforming electricity markets. Professor Rao Kotagiri, from Computing and Information Systems, will work with colleagues from lead organisation, the University of Technology, Sydney and partner organisation Joowing Australia Pty Ltd on a project that involves artificial intelligence and image processing.

Pratt Prize Awarded to Chemical Engineering Students

By designing an Ammonium Nitrate Facility, a team from our Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering has been awarded the Pratt Prize for the Best Design Project at a Victorian University for 2013. The team, consisting of Chloe Jack, Hiep (Bill) Thuan Lu, Huachen (Vincent) Liu, Fan Wu and Yue (Frank) Wu, designed a facility to snythesise ammonium nitrate. As this chemical compound has wide applications in resource excavation and agriculture, this design can be used in industries that form the cornerstones of Australia’s economy.

Left to right: Vincent (Hauchen) Liu, Bill (Hiep Thuan) Lu, Robert Pratt, Frank (Yue) Wu, Fan Wu and Chloe Jack.
Left to right: Vincent (Hauchen) Liu, Bill (Hiep Thuan) Lu, Robert Pratt, Frank (Yue) Wu, Fan Wu and Chloe Jack.

The Pratt Prize is annually awarded to the best Chemical Engineering Project from a Victorian University, determined by an expert panel. Honouring Professor Henry Reginald Clive Pratt’s contributions to chemical engineering, the prize is awarded to a top final year design project in chemical engineering. Robert Pratt, the son of Clive Pratt, was in attendance on the night.

This is the third year in a row a University of Melbourne team has been awarded the Prize.

“We are deeply honoured to be awarded the Pratt Prize. It is very satisfying to be acknowledged for the many hours of collaboration and effort we invested into the project,” says team member Fan Wu, current PhD student in the Department.

However, completing the design project was a very challenging experience for the chemical engineering team.

“The project is very open-ended and there is no ‘correct’ design solution to the problem. It is about exercising good judgment and justifying your choices,” says Fan.

Despite these challenges, the team regarded the project as an extremely valuable experience.

“It has provided a bridge between our backgrounds and industry. The knowledge and skills we learnt will greatly help us in our future endeavours, whether that be in post-doctorate research or in the workplace,” says Fan.

“We are very grateful for the support and guidance of our design project coordinator Professor Paul Webley and Mr. David Danaci, our tutor from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Our project would not have been possible without their time, advice and assistance in preparing us.”

“All the teaching staff within the Department should indeed share some of this praise, as the Design Project represents the accumulation of all our learning and teaching in this course,” says Professor Sandra Kentish, Head of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

The team will now go on to compete for the Australasian Design Project Prize to be awarded at Chemeca, an annual conference for the Australian and New Zealand community of chemical and process engineers and industrial chemists.

University of Melbourne tops cloud computing research

The University of Melbourne is a world leader in cloud computing research according to a recent paper, “A Scientific Analysis of Cloud Computing Literature” published in the IEEE Transactions on Cloud Computing.

The paper, written by scientists, Leonard Heilig and Stefan Voß, from the University of Hamburg’s Institute of Information Systems, analyses cloud computing research publications, impact and productivity.

Professor Raj Buyya from the University of Melbourne’s Department of Computing and Information Systems has been named the top cited author in cloud computing, as well as number one for individual productivity in the field, with the University of Melbourne listed as the top ranked affiliation.

In addition, four of Professor Buyya’s Melbourne team are also listed in the table of top cited authors. They are Chee Shin Yeo (now at Yuan Ze University, Taiwan), Srikumar Venugopal (now UNSW), James Broberg and Anton Beloglazov (now IBM Research).

MSE researchers in Thomson Reuters list of highly cited

Thomson Reuters has announced its Highly Cited Researchers for 2014, listing the world’s leading thinkers in science and engineering.

Congratulations to Professor Frank Caruso, from the Melbourne School of Engineering’s Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, who was listed as a highly cited researcher in the field of materials science and to Professor Ivan Marusic, from the School’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, listed in the field of engineering.

Researchers appearing on the highly cited list are internationally renowned experts in their fields, who have published the highest numbers of articles that are ranked among the most frequently cited by their peers.

According to Thomson Reuters IP & Science President Basil Moftah, researchers appearing on the highly cited list are ‘making the future of science and innovation come to life’. Full details are available in the online press release: “Thomson Reuters Announces the World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds 2014”

Professor Caruso’s work in developing nano and biomaterials for biotechnology and biomedicine, promises to design the next generation of targeted drug delivery to assist in safer and more effective cancer treatments. Professor Marusic’s research in turbulence and drag reduction will offer solutions for energy-efficient travel and reduced carbon emissions.

Melbourne entrepreneurial program ranked in top 25 in the world

The University of Melbourne’s in-house entrepreneur incubator, the Melbourne Accelerator Program, has been ranked 13th in the world by the leading Swedish-based UBI Index.

The Director of Research at the UBI Index, Dhruv Bhatli, described the MAP as an exceptional program.

“It performs really well on our global benchmark especially on access to network and competence development indicators,” he said.

“Furthermore, MAP’s clients have a higher survival and growth rate and perform much better than the global average.”

MAP Manager Rohan Workman said there is a vibrant culture of entrepreneurship in Melbourne that is starting to be recognised globally.

“We’re exceptionally pleased that our hard work over the past two years has been validated by the UBI Index,” he said.

Successful MAP alumni, David Mah and Nigel Ang, founders of Bluesky
Successful MAP alumni, David Mah and Nigel Ang, founders of Bluesky

The UBI Index ranks more than 300 university-affiliated business incubators in 67 countries in three performance categories, including value to the ecosystem, value to startup clients and attractiveness of the incubator program.

In total, more than 60 program components were used to compare incubation programs, with the MAP performing highly in both access to a high-quality network and coaching services.

Of the world’s top universities (as ranked by the Times Higher Education Ranking) only the University of Melbourne’s Melbourne Accelerator Program and Georgia Tech’s Venture Lab were in the list.

Mr Bhatli said successful entrepreneurial programs require broad support.

“This proves our hypothesis that creating a competitive business incubation program requires a clear focus from the university,” said Bhatli.

MAP is part of the Carlton Connect Initiative at the University of Melbourne.

Marking 25 years of the internet in Australia

In late 1980s Australia, BuzzFeed was a distant dream, Facebook sounded like a non sequitur and ‘the cloud’ resided only in the sky. But all that was to change with the arrival of the internet to our shores on June 24th 1989 — exactly 25 years ago today.

A ‘ping’ originating in Hawaii and bounced across the Pacific to a computer located at the University of Melbourne’s then Department of Computer Science (now Computing and Information Systems).

The subject line of what was probably the first email sent via the link was to the point: it simply read ‘Link Up’.

Robert Elz
Robert Elz

The message was sent by Torben Nielsen, who had been funded by NASA to set up internet links with countries throughout the Pacific. The current Head of the Department, Professor Justin Zobel, says Melbourne University was chosen as the site for the nation’s first connection primarily because of the work of resident tech guru Robert Elz, who’d already been central to the establishment of networks within Australia.

It was an elaborate journey for Australia’s first ping. The message travelled over a cable between Melbourne and Sydney, via satellite across the Pacific Ocean to the US West Coast and then back through another cable to Hawaii.

According to Professor Zobel, the internet helped to create itself.

“Initially, bandwidth was low, and it could only be used for material such as emails, code, and news postings. But what is sometimes overlooked about the early days of the internet is that it enabled the exchange of ideas and software that led to the development of the more sophisticated technologies we use today.”

“The modern internet – and its best known ‘passenger’, the web – largely rests on open-source code built by the vast community of developers who have since its inception used the internet to work collaboratively across the globe.”

“It has changed the way we find things, through Google. It has changed the way we think about knowledge, through Wikipedia. It has changed the way we communicate, with email and Skype. It has changed how we consume music and video, via downloads and streaming. “It has changed how we socialise, shop, bank, travel, and work. And, via our devices, and via the devices embedded in the systems we use, it touches our lives almost continuously.”

“The impact on our society is all-encompassing.”

How Australia connected to the internet 25 years ago – Professor Justin Zobel writes for The Conversation.

Justin Zobel speaks to SBS Radio about 25 years of the internet in Australia

See how The Age covered the 10th anniversary in 1999.

(Click to enlarge)





G20 whistleblower protection laws lacking

The majority of whistleblower protection laws in G20 countries fail to meet best international standards despite a public pledge to shield whistleblowers from retaliation, a new report has found.

The Whistleblower Protection Rules in G20 Countries: The Next Action Plan report, launched internationally this week, has been released ahead of the G20 summit to be held in Brisbane, Australia later this year.

In 2010, the G20 countries declared that by 2012 adequate measures would be in place to protect whistleblowers and provide them with safe, reliable reporting avenues for reporting corruption, fraud and other crimes. But the report shows that they have not yet met this commitment.

The report is the first independent evaluation of all G20 countries’ whistleblowing laws for both the private and public sectors. It was researched by an international team of experts, from both civil society and academia.

It scores the G20 countries’ laws (1, 2, 3) across a range of criteria for protection of whistleblowers and includes comparison tables for public and private sector laws.

Study co-author and University of Melbourne researcher Dr Suelette Dreyfus said the report identifies four key areas for improvement across both sectors: adequate internal and external disclosure avenues, improved protections for employees to anonymously report wrongdoing, an independent investigative body for whistleblowers’ disclosures and complaints, and transparent and accountable application of whistleblower laws.

Australia had the best score for public sector protection laws, but scored only in the middle of the pack for protections in the private sector.

“Whistleblowing is widely accepted as an effective way to expose misconduct, dishonesty and illegal activity in the public and private spheres,” said Dr Dreyfus.

“Technology enables things like anonymous and confidential reporting of fraud and corruption,” she said.

“Whistleblowers improve governance, transparency and accountability in governments and corporations.”

The report warns inadequate legal protections may deter whistleblowers from coming forward, due to fear of retribution, and can help perpetuate government and corporate misconduct and corruption. University of Melbourne Law School Visiting Scholar and report co-author Simon Wolfe hopes the report will focus the attention of G20 leaders on increasing whistleblower protections.

“The G20, as the largest economies in the world, can and should be at the forefront of whistleblower protection legislation. Hopefully this report will highlight where countries are doing well and where there is room for improvement,” Mr Wolfe said

“The public strongly supports protection of whistleblowers, as shown in public survey data. Our report points a path forward for the G20 countries to act on this,” he said.

The report is being launched this week at a whistleblower conference at the OECD’s Paris headquarters, the C20 Conference at University of Melbourne and an anti-corruption in the G20 conference at Griffith University in Brisbane.

The researchers of the report are Simon Wolfe and Dr Suelette Dreyfus from the University of Melbourne/Blueprint, Mark Worth of Blueprint for Free Speech, and Professor AJ Brown at Griffith University.

This article first appeared on the Melbourne newsroom website, where contact details for queries are available.

Dr Dreyfus has written an article for The Conversation entitled ‘G20 still has a way to go with whistleblower protections’, June 20, 2014.

Google’s plan for internet access from the sky

From Internet access for all via a new satellite network of low-orbitting balloons, to the Internet of Things, and new plans for satellite phone connectivity and wifi, Professor Thas Nirthalamas investigates some exciting developments in next generation communications technology.

Read “Google’s plan for internet access from the sky”, by Professor Nirmalathas, The Conversation, 16th June, 2014 to find out more about Project Loon, Iridium Next, and how NBN plans to increase access to broadband in remote Australia.

Thas Ampalavanapillai Nirmalathas is a Professor of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the Melbourne School of Engineering.

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