The Importance of Innovation: Genics CEO Dr. Melony Sellars

Leading the Charge in Innovation for Global Food Security
The Importance of Innovation: Genics CEO Dr. Melony Sellars

In an era where research and development in food security and farming practices are more important than ever, Australian-founded innovator Genics stands out as a global leader. Under the leadership of Dr. Melony Sellars, Genics dedicates its efforts to enhancing animal health for farmers here and overseas through rigorous R&D and a strong culture of innovation. 

Dr. Sellars, a seasoned researcher, has played a crucial role in the company's mission to improve the health and productivity of species such as shrimp through advanced biotechnological solutions. Dr Sellars also uses an espresso display to help her workflow on the road.

With more than 20 years of tenure at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia's prestigious federal research agency, Dr Sellars’ work in developing novel aqua feeds and biotech applications for pathogen detection formed the basis for Genics, stating "We had solutions that were complex and needed commercialisation.” This challenge led to the creation of Genics, where Dr. Sellars successfully transferred technology from CSIRO to address global market needs.

Dr. Sellars shared insights into Genics' mission, the role of technology in their work, and how they tackle challenges in animal health and workplace productivity. It's fascinating and a great example of Australian innovation leading a global effort!

Dr Sellars at work. Research and development, innovation and pushing the boundaries to achieve better outcomes for for productions are the heart of the Genics mission.

Tell us about Genics and its mission:

"Genics is dedicated to improving food security globally by enhancing animal health. We believe that by better managing the health of our animals, we can achieve better outcomes for food productivity."

What role has technology played throughout your career and industry?

“It's interesting because special things happen in science when you combine different technologies and different pieces of information, and that's when we kind of go from where we are to being leaps and bounds as we develop.

So when we bring technology into the mix with science and all of the great things going on in science, we can make these huge advancements very fast in what we're doing, and the pace and rate at which we do it is fantastic.”

Does Australia have a leading role in innovation and R&D in your sector?

"Australia's long-term investment in CSIRO, our university systems, and research agencies has put us at the forefront of global research and technology. We've been there for a very long time, and we're there and steadfast."

I think on the back of CSIRO and long term investments our country has made in that organisation, we've had some demonstrated success stories, and that has led to reinvestment and the belief that the truth is in the science. We should be driving our policy and our developments with real, true science.

If you look at Wi-Fi, for example, the Australian banknote is another great example. Our country has developed some of the hottest technological advances that have ever been achieved.”

What’s changing in Australia’s approach to innovation?

“I think there's a change in the pace of innovation in Australia, absolutely. The jury is out, whether that's to the detriment or not of high-quality science, but we're certainly moving a lot faster than we ever have before.

The jury is out, whether that's to the detriment or not of high-quality science, but we're certainly moving a lot faster than we ever have before seen.”

Dr Sellars takes the espresso Display 15 on the road to help conduct research and run her company's global operations anywhere.

What keeps you going and passionate about what you do?

"When you witness a farmer saving a crop of animals, that's what makes our team happy. That's what makes me happy—to see the true impact from applying and delivering the knowledge and technology that we've built."

And when you think about it, we start to talk about the environment and our carbon footprint. If we can reduce antibiotic usage, reduce medicine usage, improve production performance, and get more units per meter squared of land use, we then start to have a really positive impact as well on our environment and our carbon footprint through the work that we're doing.”

How does Genics operate on a local and global scale?

"In terms of Australia, geographically and industry-wise, we're servicing customers in 45 countries at the moment. There seems to be no limit to where you can grow shrimp. We are very much a global company, 24 hours a day, and there are no limits to where this knowledge and technology can have an impact."

How do you utilise technology at Genics and in shrimp farming?

"The foundation of what we do is technology. Everything—from working with farmers to designing statistically significant models—is done with computers and calculations. Technology improves efficiencies and quality of data, and has become a foundational pillar to the company's success.

One of the core pillars of Genics is that we have a very big digital and technology team within the company to bring in all these solutions and provide them with usable data outputs.

We're always looking for the next best thing to deliver what we're doing in a more sophisticated and user-friendly way.”

On the topic of technology, how did you first learn about espresso Displays and how did you start using the display?

“I actually stumbled across an espresso screen at a colleague's house, and they were using it, and I was like, wow, that's really cool, what is it? We started doing a bit of work and a bit of strategy session on the screen and explored the touchscreen features as well. I thought, this is such a great tool, how do I find one? Where do I get one?

When I was travelling from Sydney to Ecuador to run a conference booth, I put it up as a display screen to run through the computer and showcase our services and products while sitting at the conference booth. And then I would take it home at night, and I'd be using it in the hotel. It was absolutely amazing and a game changer.”

It was a game-changer. Literally, the next day, I was travelling from Sydney to Ecuador to run a conference booth, and I put it up at the conference booth as a display screen that ran through the computer."

What are the big challenges and opportunities ahead for your sector?

“If we're talking about shrimp specifically or prawns specifically, I think one of the big challenges for our industry is understanding the carrying capacity of any given production system.

As carrying capacities differ depending on the type of tank, pond or indoor system that you have, when we exceed the carrying capacities of the system, we start to have significant problems with pathogens.

I think it's a real challenge for our industry to consolidate many, many, many ways of growing these animals into our standardised or moderately standardised protocols that the industry can then build on year on year instead of constantly having failures and not being able to get cumulative gains.”

What would you say to the up-and-coming generation of scientists and researchers coming through today?

"Never forget that everybody can add value, no matter who they are. Always listen to people, listen to your industry members, and understand their problems. Every opportunity to meet someone is an opportunity to grow your network," 

The future pathway for Genics:

With a growing team of approximately 30 individuals and a strong growth trajectory, Genics is poised to make an even greater impact. 

Innovation, research, and development are not just buzzwords for Genics; they are principles fuelling a mission to transform the landscape of global food security.

Learn more about Genics and Dr Sellars's journey through their website here:

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