Funding for the future

published under creative commons CC BY 2.0
15 November 2016

Baraja Pty Ltd is standing out among the 22 companies awarded a total of $7.6 million in the latest round of Accelerating Commercialisation grants.

The company was offered the maximum amount of $1 million available under the scheme, which requires the funding to be matched dollar-for-dollar.

Baraja Pty Ltd is in a global race towards the development of a LIDAR sensor that could be used in driverless cars.

LIDAR stands for a laser-based radar that can scan the environment for objects such as buildings, other cars and even lines on the road. In autonomous devices such as driverless cars or robots, the technology could provide crucial additional data to 'perception systems', which to date heavily rely on cameras.

LIDAR devices send out pulses of laser light, and then uses the reflection to build a 3-D map of objects in the surrounding environment. This provides a major advantage over cameras as it works can also accurately operate in bad weather conditions. 

Developers of LIDAR technology are not only eying the driverless cars market, but a range of areas such as site surveying and mining.

Accordingly, there is stiff competition in the market. For example, here in Australia Ocular Robotics produces LIDAR systems for the use in robots. And for driverless cars the global frontrunner is Velodyne - the California based company recently landed a major coup by attracting a $150 million investment from Chinese search engine giant Baidu and Ford.

But cost remains a major obstacle to the industrial use of LIDAR, and Sydney-based startup Baraja says its concept is cheap, has no-moving parts, can scale to volume, and is robust to jamming and interference.

It has convinced venture capital firm Blackbird Ventures to back the project.

The Accerlerating Commercialisation scheme under the Australian Government's Entrepreneurs' Programme was implemented to help businesses with a combined turnover of less than $20 million in the crucial early stage of commercialisation.

In addition to grants it also provides commercialisation guidance and portfolio services. However, the key support is through the matched funding support of up to $1 million.

Including the latest round of grants, the scheme has supported 168 organisations with $87.7 million to date.

Other successful project in the latest Accelerating Commercialisation grant round include: 

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