Two UNSW research teams have been selected to join the CSIRO sci-tech pre-accelerator, ON Prime, to help drive their science and technology ideas from the lab to the marketplace.

Dr Jill Newby, clinical psychologist and lecturer in Psychology at UNSW, is looking to develop virtual reality simulations to treat fears and phobias, a problem which affects 1 in 5 people worldwide.

Dr Newby said she was excited be accepted into ON Prime and looking forward to meeting with mentors and commercialisation experts.

“The use of virtual reality will allow therapists to effectively treat medical phobias without having to leave their normal place of work, and will give patients greater control over the therapeutic process,” Dr Newby says.

Dr Ryan Armstrong and Dr Peyman Mostaghimi, lecturers in Petroleum Engineering at UNSW, will develop a method to accurately predict how methane gas flows through coal. 

Their method uses a novel set of experimental procedures and numerical algorithms to understand and predict displacement of methane in coal mines and coal seam gas reservoirs. This is critical for safety of underground mining as well as optimisation of coal seam gas developments.

Thirty nine teams will commence the eight-week program in one of five ON Prime ‘hubs’ across the country from 20 September, supported by funds provided through the National Innovation and Science Agenda. 

CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall said he knew the big ideas were out there, but was overwhelmed by the quality of applications and appetite for entry across the research sector.

“We’re thrilled to have created this program for Australia’s research sector and can’t wait to see the breakthroughs that come from this round of ON Prime.

“The potential impact these ideas will have on the everyday lives of Australians and our economic, social, and environmental prosperity is huge. I’m most excited about the role we can play in connecting these teams with the mentors, customers and commercialisation experts who can help convert their ideas to real-world impact at pace.

“We know the pathway from great research to commercial outcomes is tough work.

“That’s why the ON experience is so critical and timely. It pools all that expertise and connections into a concentrated program that is focused on bridging the gap from bench top to beta. This will help us tackle some of our nation’s greatest challenges.”