From carbon-sequestering microbes to an AI-powered mental health app to, we explore innovation in Australia
Australia innovation facts
Global Innovation Index ranking: 25th
Climate targets: Reduce emissions by 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, net-zero emissions by 2050
Agriculture – More than 90 per cent of the food Australians eat is produced domestically, and agriculture has significantly impacted the country’s environment. Around 13 per cent of Australia’s original vegetation has disappeared because of agriculture since European settlement. Moreover, in 2019, agriculture produced 13 per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gases.
Invasive species – Australia is known for its unique and distinctive wildlife. Yet invasive species are driving more than 80 per cent of the country’s most vulnerable native plants and animals towards extinction. And it is estimated that Australia gains around 20 new pests or diseases each year.
Coal production – Coal is Australia’s second-biggest export, and the country depends on coal-fired power for nearly 60 per cent of its electricity. The Australian government has traditionally been very loyal to the coal industry, but now faces difficult choices as it aims for net-zero emissions by 2050.
Digital and creative industries
Source: Startup Genome
Three new innovations from australia
The climate crisis has seen record-breaking levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Potential solutions range from renewable fuels to reforestation. But a growing band of researchers and biotech firms believe that one of the best solutions may be waiting right underfoot – microbes. Companies like Loam Bio believe that they can use tailored microbes to turn the world’s soil into a massive carbon sink, while also improving crop yields. Read more.
According to Australian startup togetherAI, over 70 per cent of caregivers struggle to communicate with their children. And over the last three years, the likelihood of young people having a mental health problem has increased by 50 per cent. TogetherAI is helping families to have difficult conversations about mental health and wellbeing with an app that combines wellbeing expertise with artificial intelligence. Read more.
The transition to a net-zero economy will require huge changes in our energy infrastructure. Not only will the power grids of the future be cleaner – they will also be more decentralised. The complexity of planning and assessing de-centralised projects—from microgrids to electric vehicle charging points— is a key issue that must be overcome. Australian startup Gridcognition has developed software that crunches the numbers of different energy project options, helping industry players invest in the most efficient and environmentally beneficial assets. Read more.
Words: Matthew Hempstead
17th March 2022