Special Report: Pooled Development Fund Strategic Elements (ASX:SOR) is poised to take advantage of the opportunities presented by COVID-19.

The entity operates as a “venture builder” backing high-risk, high-reward Australian innovation in combination with teams of leading scientists and researchers.

Managing director Charles Murphy says the research sector has been “decimated” by the pandemic with reports of a funding gap in billions and thousands of job losses.

“We’ve built a network across Australian research and development and the company has seen a dramatic increase in leading scientists seeking funding and partnerships to advance their discoveries. We are seeing more opportunities than ever,” he says.

In 2019 the company added the robotics sector to its portfolio, entering a fast-growing global market that’s expected to exceed $US230bn ($320.8bn) by 2025.

“The Silicon Valley Bank has called Robotics one of the hottest investment sectors of the decade. The data on valuations of early-stage start-ups that have validated their technology with initial customers is that they be strikingly high,” Murphy says.

COVID-19 has also seen a new appreciation of the potential of robotics and automation in areas such as manufacturing, health and security.

Governments in Australia and the United States have set out new legislation to increase physical and cybersecurity requirements for critical infrastructure facilities in transport, energy, water, food and communications.


AxV Platform Development

The company is developing a software and hardware platform to enable a robot to autonomously navigate around safely whilst doing physical tasks through robotic arms and attachments. It can be used in very small to large unmanned robotic vehicles.

The AxV platform has been built to operate in outdoor rugged environments in defence, transport, resources and agriculture.

However Strategic Elements sees an initial significant opportunity to break into the global perimeter security sector which is forecast to reach $US282.26bn by 2025.


ASV – Autonomous Security Vehicle

The company has formed a collaboration with giant US company Honeywell to develop Autonomous Security Vehicles (ASV) for correctional justice facilities.

An ASV is currently under development with the Western Australian Department of Justice’s Eastern Goldfields Regional Prison.

The goal is to complete three fully autonomous missions around the prison’s perimeter, test multiple sensors and beams on fences and underground whilst transmitting live high definition video to the prison patrol centre.

Validation and testing of the initial ASV is expected to be completed in the near term, with agreements for additional correctional justice facilities and non-correctional facilities to follow.


Printed electronics

Strategic Elements’ other big area of focus is transparent printable memory, which it is developing with an international team of world-leading development partners — the University of New South Wales, CSIRO Manufacturing in Melbourne and VTT in Finland.

Printed electronics is already a multi-billion dollar market and has the potential to transform the electronics industry, with electronic devices printed on surfaces such as plastic and glass rather than rigid silicon.

Printed electronics can create thin, lightweight, flexible and robust electronic products, the company says.

Strategic Elements says the memory component has been holding back printed electronics, something it is working on with its Nanocube Memory Ink project.

The transparent ink actually works as a form of random-access memory.

The company has also recently entered into a $1m federal government-funded project to develop new electronic materials. These can include memory, all types of sensors, batteries and other flexible electronics.

This article was developed in collaboration with Strategic Elements, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.

This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.