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About the ON Innovation Program

The ON Program accelerates Australia’s most promising research breakthroughs from mind to market. We empower brilliant researchers with the skills, networks and pathways to translate big ideas into real-world impact.

Through a series of events and experiences, our ON programs provide researchers with the skills and knowledge to realise the pathways to growth, beyond academia and commercialisation.

Since its development in 2015, the ON program has delivered training and support to thousands of people, creating a legacy and community of researchers, founders, industry experts, advisors, and investors that participants can lean into.

Whether you are curious about creating real-world impact or have founder ambitions, we exist for all researchers ready to take their leap to something more.

Learn more about our programs.

Important statistics

5000+

Participants upskilled through ON programs

700+

Jobs supported by new companies formed by ON alumni

$320+ million

Commercialisation grants attracted by ON alumni

$361+ million

Investment capital raised by new companies

Australia’s community of deep-tech founders

With ON's network of researchers, founders, industry experts and investors, we help validate and de-risk tech innovation, accelerating the translation of cutting-edge research into real-world technologies that will shape the future.

However, every pathway to growth is different and the opportunities for impact will be unique.

Explore the stories of those who have completed the ON program and hear about the learnings they discovered on their journey.

[Images appears of a divided circle with various CSIRO projects flashing through either side, and then the image morphs into the CSIRO logo]

[Music plays and the image changes to show white arrows joining together at the centre of the screen, and then the image changes to show Darryl Lyons talking to the camera, and text appears: ON Track, Episode 2, Darryl Lyons, Rainstick]

Darryl Lyons: Hi, I'm Darryl Lyons, co-founder of Rainstick and Chief Rainmaker. I'm a proud participant of ON Accelerate 7 in 2023.

[Image changes to show wide view of Darryl talking and gesturing to the camera]

So my co-founder Mic Black I met eight years ago and I've always wanted to work with him because he’s just such a genius and inventor and smart guy.

[Image changes to show medium view of Darryl talking to the camera]

And then in January 2022, he rang me up and said “Hey, what about this thing called electro culture?”

[Image changes to show a wide view of Darryl talking and gesturing to the camera]

I'm a proud Maiawali man from my Mum’s side. The Maiawali people, I believe, are the first people on the planet trying to influence the system to create that electrical activity.

[Image changes to show medium view of Darryl talking to and gesturing to the camera]

So the Maiawali people known as the Rainmakers, and so we used to do rain dancing ceremonies and paint ochre and we were in the Australian First Nations grainbelt. So they thrived in Central Australia and that's where our actual native grains thrived. And we used to go and dance between all the other areas to bring in that electrical and thunderstorms, because that's what made the grain grow.

[Music plays and image changes to show a blue background, and text appears: What was the starting point for Rainstick?]

[Images changes to show a medium and then a wide view of Darryl talking to and gesturing to the camera]

In Japan, there was about 100 research papers where you have Japanese researchers in lab coats, and they've been going out and doing the older style electro culture and zapping mushrooms and we started with mushrooms off the back of that. And when we looked into it, they were using expensive machines, it was really labour intensive and it couldn't scale and add. And so that's what we first went, “OK, this isn’t going to work. How do we come up with something that's very cost effective, can be handled in a really harsh environment?”.

[Image changes to show medium and then a wide view of Darryl talking to and gesturing to the camera]

So as an ability to take on that traditional knowledge, that's what we come up with, a new system based on the Maiawali rule, kind of looking at the whole system of the thunderstorm.

[Image changes to show medium view and then a wide view of Darryl talking to and gesturing to the camera]

Really, we're just putting the new tools of the latest AI and IOT and software with that knowledge system from January ‘22. We put in our own money and our own time. We didn't form the company until December in ‘22, and that's when we pitched at the bootcamp with the ON Accelerator and then we were lucky enough to get in.

[Image changes to show a medium view of Darryl talking to and gesturing to the camera]

Using our own cash and experimenting was kind of a good validation point to go, hey, there's something substantial here. You can make a difference. There's a big purpose behind it. And yeah, that's something we want to lean into and do.

[Music plays and the image changes to show a blue background, and text appears: What advice would you offer others exploring similar pathways?]

[Image changes to show a wide and then a medium view of Darryl talking to and gesturing to the camera]

My advice is to, you kind of have to flip that fear and not letting that inhibit you and then learning quickly off that because that's going to shape your idea and, you know, potentially your version of the idea right now is not where it's going to get to to help the world and whatever that's going to be. And you've got to evolve that.

[Music plays and the images to show a blue background, and text appears: What about the ON Program stood out to you?]

[Image changes to show a wide view of Darryl talking to and gesturing to the camera]

One of the standouts is the quality of the mentors. So the variety of mentors there and the advice that it can give is, is second to none and that’s, that support.

[Image changes to show a medium view of Darryl talking and gesturing to the camera]

Their sharpness and breadth of skills and network is hugely advantageous.

[Images move through to show wide and close views of Darryl talking and gesturing to the camera]

When we started at the immersion week we probably weren’t, you know, we accelerated that ability to ask the right questions as we dug into it and learn and build the trust and relationship. So taking away our fear. And that's what we need to show people that we're dedicated and we were coachable and we're willing to learn and we zig and zag, they're not telling us what to do, but they're helping expand our thinking with other inputs to help us make decisions on what’s the best step forward.

[Music plays and the images changes to show a blue background, and text appears: How has the ON Program shaped where Rainstick is now?]

[Image changes to show a medium view of Darryl talking to and gesturing to the camera]

Coming in and being part of the ON Accelerate, coming with a really, idea of being very humble, that we don't know all the answers.

[Image changes to show a wide view of Darryl talking to and gesturing to the camera]

We pitched the mushrooms at the bootcamp, lucky enough to get into the top ten. We come here and then we also only get good feedback by turning that network that potentially mushrooms aren't venture bankable and scalable.

[Images move through to show medium and wide views of Darryl talking to and gesturing to the camera]

There's a few research papers that say that, hey, this works on seeds. So yeah, around this time 12 months ago, we pivoted into seeds and we started working on wheat seeds, and that led us to do a project with CSIRO with a Kickstart program.

[Image changes to show a medium view of Darryl talking to and gesturing to the camera]

So we've kicked that off and led us to now start having plenty of work with other universities and other researchers around the country who are kind of seeing the results and going, hey, there's something there.

[Image changes to show a wide view of Darryl talking to and gesturing to the camera]

So we had some really, really interesting results and it was really off the back of that, we found a CSIRO paper where the researchers went “Hey, if you can double the seedling size in wheat in the first month, it creates all of these amazing benefits.”

[Image changes to show a medium view, and then the image changes to a wide view of Darryl talking to and gesturing to the camera]

We zoomed out at the end of ON and it kind of went across the whole Ag industry and everyone who's growing seeds and having some really amazing results.

[Music plays and image changes to show a blue background with two arrows meeting at the centre, and text appears: ON Track, Look out for more episodes via csiro.au/ON]

[Image changes to show the CSIRO logo, and text appears: CSIRO, Australia’s National Science Agency]

We speak with Darryl Lyons, co-founder and Chief Rainmarker at Rainstick.

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