As the end of the financial year looms large, it’s time to reflect on those innovation trends and ventures that have defined the past 12 months. We look at the key innovation trends, and the Australian innovators and Radium Capital clients leading the way. Viewing Australian innovation in the light of the world’s megatrends, we consider how our home-grown innovations could shape our lives this decade and beyond.
What makes a megatrend?
Megatrends are potent macroeconomic forces shaping the direction of the world. They transcend international borders, demographics and socioeconomic strata. These sustained geostrategic influences deliver some of humanity’s greatest challenges and our most significant opportunities.
Around a year ago, we nailed our colours to the mast, zeroing in on five trends we believed would shape the world’s future. These were green energy, biotech, food security, mining and deep tech.
Let’s look at how these trends and our predictions stack up to Australian innovation achievements in FY23, and the megatrends that are carving the path to the future.
Artificial intelligence (AI)
It has been virtually impossible not to notice AI this year. In addition to AI dominating news headlines, its potential impacts (positive and negative) are being weighed up by almost every industry sector. Despite the hype, the AI that we have seen this year, and indeed up until now, is not true AI, but machine learning. Chat GPT and other large language models (LLMs) are essentially sophisticated autocomplete programs that have been trained using the entire internet. True AI or artificial general intelligence (AGI) remains hypothetical and the stuff of sci-fi. Some commentators postulate that the LLMs of the future may end up being one element that contributes to AGI. But the experts concede, the building blocks for AGI are as yet unknown. And with regulation and copyright litigation foreshadowed for LLMs, progress could begin to slow for this technology.
Nonetheless, machine learning using deep tech algorithms are being incorporated into multiple emerging innovations. It’s everywhere right now and is likely to define the decade. Increasingly, investors are flocking to back inventions featuring AI/machine learning. So much so that, if we were to pick one trend to rule them all for FY23, it would be this one. Radium Capital clients, including Digital Agricultural Services (DAS) and ApyApp, have leveraged machine learning, and their businesses are growing exponentially as a result. Read our case studies to discover just how prevalent AI is among our client base.
Last year, we highlighted the leaps and bounds automation was making, particularly in the field of mining, including the technology of Australian automation innovator BlueVein. The company’s progress to market has accelerated since then, with BlueVein taking out two business awards and launching the third tranche of testing and development for BluVein1, its underground mine electrification solution. Earlier this year, the innovator announced that several mining multinationals, including BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, had signed up as consortium partners for BlueVeinXL — an innovation that simultaneously charges and powers mining fleets as they work.
Radium Capital client and mining automation innovator, Tribe Tech Group, has been going from strength to strength this financial year. It announced the planned delivery of its first unmanned reverse circulation drill rig in late 2023. And in the past six months, Tribe Tech has had two successful funding rounds totalling more than AU$ 6.4 million. Read the Radium Capital case study to learn more about Tribe Tech Group’s inspiring safety and efficiency-focused technology, which will help the world unlock new supplies of key metals.
But it’s not just the high-risk, high-reward mining sector that’s embracing process automation. The pandemic has prompted technical and digital automation to fuse and find applications in high-touch industries such as hospitality and healthcare to deliver improved customer experiences. Research by Futurum Research and Automation Anywhere recently revealed that 61% of organisations are using automation to tackle staff shortages, with 94% prioritising the transition of their staff to higher-value duties. So it looks like automation is a megatrend that’s not only here to stay but likely to grow in influence.
The trends of green energy, biotech and food security are inextricably linked to the climate crisis and can be viewed through that lens. Green energy holds the key to arresting and then rolling back global warming. But before we successfully apply the brakes to the climate change juggernaut, humanity will face threats from food insecurity and new diseases driven by a planet that’s heating up. And that’s where innovations in the food security and biotech spaces will become crucial for survival.
The good news is that Australian innovators, many of them Radium Capital clients, are at the forefront of these three innovation fields that are essential to solving climate change and the existential challenges it is creating.
Perth-based Juice Batteries has developed a circular economy green energy solution. It uses a forgotten and overlooked Australian innovation, the vanadium redox battery (VRB), and vanadium extracted from industrial by-products of fly ash and mineral sands processing. Non-flammable with low toxicity, the VRB provides a much longer service life compared to its lithium-ion counterpart. And it doesn’t lose capacity and efficacy when it’s rapidly charged or discharged during a power outage. Read the Juice Batteries Radium Capital Case Study to find out more.
In transportation, Melbourne-based e-mobility innovator, Savic Motorcycles, is successfully decarbonising the light mobility industry with its award-winning, high-performance fully electric motorcycles. See the Radium Capital Case Study about Savic Motorcycles to learn more.
A collaboration between CSIRO and Radium Capital client Digital Agricultural Services (DAS) has produced leading-edge technology that’s helping farmers and agricultural-related service providers mitigate the impacts of climate change. By using the DAS platform, they can determine the best crops to plant and how to maximise harvests. In the past financial year, DAS has continued to scale up and roll out its subscription-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) globally, with the rural intelligence pioneer successfully attracting investors and closing out multi-million-dollar funding rounds. To find out more, see the Radium Capital Case Study about DAS.
According to economic modelling in 2019 and 2020 by Deloitte and Food Frontier, an independent think tank on alternative proteins in Australia and New Zealand, the plant-based meat sector has an economic potential of $3 billion. With the world’s population projected to increase to 10 billion by 2050, we expect alternative proteins, including plant-based protein ingredients, plant-based meat, cellular agriculture techniques such as cultivated meat and precision fermentation will continue to gain ground. Australian innovators such as Vow and All G Foods are certainly leading the way with their solutions for food security and climate change threats, as well as changing consumer habits and demands – when it comes to meat consumption.
According to recent scientific reports published in Nature, more than 50% of diseases that impact humans will be made worse by climate change. And by 2070, our warming world will cause thousands of new viruses to spread among animal species, increasing the risk of new infectious diseases jumping from animals to humans.
In 2022, the Australian Government unveiled Biotechnology in Australia, the nation’s 10-year strategic plan for health and medicine. ASX-listed Imugene, a biotech business developing immunotherapy treatments for cancer and Eugene Labs, which has developed at-home genetic testing are just two of Australia’s rising biotech stars. Recce Pharmaceuticals is developing synthetic anti-infectives for superbugs and dangerous viruses — the pathogens predicted to become more prevalent due to climate change. The business has been continuing to progress its R&D, with the Human Research Ethics Committee recently granting approval for Recce to start Phase I/II intravenous clinical trials of its lead compound, RECCE® 327 (R327). Read Recce’s 4 April 2023 ASX announcement to find out how the business uses Radium Advances to fast-track its R&D.
What we missed
Two technology trends we haven’t previously highlighted, but that other commentators believe will shape the future of innovation in Australia are cloud computing and 5G connectivity.
Cloud computing gives users remote access to both software and data, without them having to download or store these on their own devices. Many Australian businesses and industry sectors have already embraced cloud computing and are benefitting from the cost savings and improved security it offers. Over the coming years, more companies and consumers are likely to adopt cloud computing as it continues to develop and improve. According to a 2019 report by Deloitte Access Economics, the adoption of cloud services delivers a significant productivity boost for businesses. So, the uptake of cloud computing systems by innovators can help them enhance their productivity when it comes to R&D.
5G (fifth generation) is the latest global wireless standard. Still in its rollout phase across Australia, 5G has the capability to connect everyone and everything on the internet, including devices, machines, cars and appliances. Many commentators envisage 5G as a transformative force that will facilitate more innovation in Australia and drive economic growth in the decades ahead.
Existential threats offer innovation opportunities
In June 2023, linguist and public intellectual, Noam Chomsky, warned humanity is facing threats, such as climate change and nuclear war, that have never been seen before in human history. In his opinion, humans will need to find solutions soon or face extinction. Human ingenuity has always created innovations to solve challenging problems. Could your business and your team have some of the answers the world needs? If so, don’t let a lack of capital hold you back or slow you down. Contact our R&D financing experts today to discover if you’re eligible to apply for our non-dilutionary, affordable, fast and easy Radium Advances.
 Big Think. 2023. ChatGPT is not “true AI.” A computer scientist explains why – Big Think. [ONLINE] Available at: https://bigthink.com/the-future/artificial-general-intelligence-true-ai/.
 finder. 2023. How AI stocks are reshaping the way Australians invest this year. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.finder.com.au/ai-stocks-reshaping-australian-investment.
 Tech Business News. 2023. Top Tech Predictions And Trends Impacting Australia In 2023. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.techbusinessnews.com.au/top-tech-predictions-and-trends-impacting-australia-in-2023/.
 Nature. 2023. Climate change cranks up infectious disease impact. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41591-022-00085-1.
 PBS NewsHour. 2023. Climate change will result in new viruses and risk of new diseases, says study | PBS NewsHour. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/climate-change-will-result-in-new-viruses-and-risk-of-new-diseases-says-study.
 Tech Business News. 2023. Top Tech Predictions And Trends Impacting Australia In 2023. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.techbusinessnews.com.au/top-tech-predictions-and-trends-impacting-australia-in-2023/
 www2.deloitte.com. 2019. The economic value of cloud services in Australia. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/au/Documents/Economics/deloitte-au-economics-value-cloud-services-australia-230719.pdf.