Cooperative Research Centres Association

Media Release

Australia’s Early Career Researchers on Show

It’s a national science award that gives young researchers the chance to sharpen their communication skills and pitch their work to some of Australia’s most influential business innovation leaders.

On opening night at next year’s Cooperative Research Centre Association’s annual conference, the Business of Innovation 2016, five early career researchers will give a five-minute presentation on their research.

It’s the CRC Association’s Early Career Researcher Showcase, which is sponsored by CSIRO and open to all PhD and Masters research students working on CRC projects. Researchers submit a 30 second video that pitches the significance of their research, and judges select five finalists.

The winner is decided by audience vote at the CRC national conference, and receives an award package (including travel fares and accommodation) worth over $10,000.

Since the event started in 1997, finalists have wowed the first night crowd with compelling presentations on some unlikely, but fascinating topics – from the benefits of saltbush for sheep digestion to the molecular structure of carbon-epoxy materials used in aircraft manufacturing.

CRC Association chief executive, Dr Tony Peacock, says the presentation session is an eagerly anticipated conference highlight, and watched with keen interest by CRC research directors and industry partners.

“It’s a proud moment for the CRCs, because it really shows the incredible depth of talent among our researchers,” he says.

At the 2015 CRC conference, University of Canberra clinical psychologist Sally Bradford’s winning presentation was on an app she’s developed with the Young and Well CRC to help assess mental health risks for young people.

University of Queensland aerospace engineer Luigi Vandi from the CRC for Advanced Composite Structures won the ECR Showcase in 2014 for his research in developing a new process that allows carbon-epoxy composite materials to be welded.

He says participating in the competition attracted national interest in his research and also helped him to appreciate the global partnership reach of the CRC Program.

“It’s an award that means a lot in terms of recognition for your research, and being able to present your work to the conference certainly opens up a lot of opportunities,” he says.

Monash University cancer researcher Caroline Le won in 2013 for her presentation on the role of stress in weakening the immune system.

She says presenting to an audience that includes CRC chairs, board members, business managers and government research institutes “really helped get my research out there.”

Dr Peacock says an additional benefit is that the CRC Association doesn’t stipulate how finalists must spend their prize money. Le used her award to attend a medical conference in San Diego and Vandi says the prize money helped him meet the costs of applying for Australian citizenship. Bradford used her award to help pay for a honeymoon.

“They can spend it on traveling to a conference, buying a car or taking a well-deserved holiday. We know the pressures of research, and we hope the funds can help make life a little easier,” Dr Peacock says.

In 2016, the CRC Conference, the Business of Innovation 2016, will be held in Brisbane from 7 to 9 March, and Dr Peacock asks researchers to start planning their 30 second entry videos for the ECR Showcase.

You can view the 30 second videos for the previous entries on the CRC Association website:

Business of Innovation 2016

The Business of Innovation 2016 will explore the importance of business and industry working with science to create innovation, and how to foster these relationships. Much of a day at the conference will be dedicated to a Science-Business Match-up, linking industry and researchers from across Australia to sow the seeds of collaboration.

For more information:
Jordan Gardner
Communications and Marketing Manager, CRC Association | 02 6273 1124 | 04329 26823

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