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French research and innovation players open their doors to Australian PhDs

A group of six Australian PhD students leave for a two-week study tour of some of France’s top research institutions, business incubators, innovation hubs and industry players.

The students won the opportunity in the first Australian-French 24 Hour Entrepreneurship Challenge, held at the Australian National University in June.

The challenge saw Australia’s most dynamic PhD students hone their business development skills by working in a team on a new business idea.

The local students were joined by their French Industry-PhD (CIFRE) counterparts undertaking their PhDs in France, to build links between the two countries.

The students, who are completing PhDs in natural sciences, engineering, medical, humanities and social studies, worked with expert mentors to leverage their scientific knowledge whilst broadening their entrepreneurial skills.

The winning team developed a smart phone app and disposable microscope lens that allows travellers to detect, and then avoid, the water-borne parasite Giardia lamblia.

The winning team members are:

  • Lara Bereza-Malcolm – La Trobe University
  • Linda Khong – The University of Notre Dame Australia
  • Spence Richardson – The Australian National University
  • John Rivers – The Australian National University
  • Amanda Vrselja – Monash University
  • Ariel Zeleznikow-Johnston – The University of Melbourne.

The team was supported by French PhD student Thibaud Dumas from Université Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris), and founder of the start-up myBrain Technologies.

The Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Greg Hunt, and the Ambassador of France to Australia, His Excellency Mr Christophe Lecourtier, congratulated the award winners on their achievement.

“Innovation is the key to the economic success of our countries, and competitions like this give our up-and-coming intellectuals an opportunity to develop the entrepreneurial skills that enable them to apply their academic knowledge in the business world,” Minister Hunt said.

“French CIFRE PhD students and industry have benefited from the 24 Hours Entrepreneurship Challenge since 2011 and we are proud to have introduced this opportunity to Australian PhD students,” Mr Lecourtier said.

“By bringing together Australian and French representatives we will enhance the cooperation between academia and industry in both countries, sharing our world-class research and scientific engagement,” Minister Hunt said.

The Australian-French Entrepreneurship Challenge was co-organised by the Australian Department of Industry, Innovation and Science and the Culture, Education, Science and Technology section of the French Embassy.

It was supported by the Australian and French governments, ANU and the Australian Academy of Science, DCNS, AIRBUS, the Association Nationale pour la Recherche et la Technologie (ANRT), Engineers Australia, the Canberra Innovation Network (CBRIN) and its KILN incubator.

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