Aussie innovators making global impact

What do bananas, an iron-fortified dairy drink and mass production in metal 3D printing have in common?

Each has been honoured among winners of this year’s KCA Australasian Research Commercialisation Awards for their ground-breaking technology which will help many millions of people globally.

“These awards celebrate the professional activities undertaken to commercialise research that turns brilliant ideas into products and services to help humanity,” Dr Tim Boyle, KCA Director said.

“Australian and New Zealand research ranks among the best in the world, and each award showcases the absolute finest work performed by research commercialisation professionals to get this research into the hands of businesses and entrepreneurs and so they can build meaningful products that create impact for the benefit society and the economy.”

The winners were announced at the KCA annual conference in Melbourne tonight.

Best Industry Collaboration (sponsored by AbbVie)

Banana Biotechnology Program – QUT

QUT’s Centre for Agriculture and the Bioeconomy’s Banana Biotechnology Program has been transforming bananas for over 25 years, delivering significant economic, social and community benefits in Australia and globally. Its multi-million-dollar Golden Banana project, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is close to farmer release a pro-vitamin A fortified banana that will deliver life-saving health benefits to millions of people in Africa. Its TR4 Program has developed a genetically modified Cavendish banana resistant to the devastating TR4 disease. Likely to be available for commercial production in 2024, this promises to protect the global Cavendish industry, worth up to US$25 billion annually.

Best Licensing Deal (sponsored by AbbVie)

FERRI-PRO Sale to Nestlé Targeting Iron Deficiency – Massey Ventures

In Pakistan, where one in two children are iron deficient, global food giant Nestlé announced the launch of BUNYAD IRON+, an affordable dairy-based drink fortified with a new source of iron in 2022. The unique iron source has three times greater absorption than alternative sources. The FERRI-PRO technology, originally developed by the Riddet Institute at Massey University, was acquired by Nestlé in December 2018. The deal represents the single biggest commercial deal to emerge from the University, both in terms of commercial impact and societal benefits.

Best Spin-out (sponsored by Phillips Ormonde Fitzpatrick)

Additive Assurance – The quality solution bringing 3D printing to the factory floor – Monash University

Consistency and repeatability are words not often associated with 3D printing. They are, however, massive concerns for advanced manufacturers. Additive Assurance, a 2019 spin out from Monash University, enables the metal 3D printing industry to undertake mass production with the stringent consistently and reliability tolerances modern manufacturers require. The company does this without the significant downtime or low material yields synonymous with 3D printing. By enabling mass 3D printing, Additive Assurance promises to transform industries from automotive, to aerospace, and even medical devices with specialised, localised, precision production on demand.

Best Knowledge Exchange Initiative (sponsored by ACASE)

Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) Hub – QUT

Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) hub was established in 2020 as a world-leading knowledge exchange centre. It leverages Queensland’s global strengths in advanced robotics and design-led manufacturing, bringing together leading research institutions, industry partners and technology companies in a joint mission to drive Australia’s industrial transformation. In two years, ARM Hub has: supported over 700 businesses to develop commercial solutions; reached industry across Australia and the world; and raised $40 million in additional project funds for industry. ARM Hub sits at the forefront of industrial transformation, providing industry with access to a world-leading network of R&D expertise.

Research Commercialisation Professional of the Year

Dr Erin Rayment, Executive Director, Industry Engagement, QUT

Dr Erin Rayment is an interdisciplinary biologist leading commercialisation and industry engagement at QUT. In more than a decade as a commercialisation professional, she has executed significant deals that have enabled research to create real-world impact. Two examples of these outcomes including leading a 10-year R&D partnership between USQ and John Deere that resulted in the licencing of an industry-first technology and managing a multi-million-dollar collaboration between QUT and Fresh Del Monte. This partnership promises to deliver the release of a gene edited Cavendish banana, expected to save the US$25 billion a year global export industry from the devastating TR4 disease.

Best invention (sponsored by IP Australia)

Analyte quantitation, UTS

UTS iStrip technology is an ultrasensitive quantitative lateral flow strip (LFS) sensor that uses new generation fluorescence probes to detect the presence of single molecules. The platform technology can significantly increase the sensitivity for point-of-care testing of a wide range of disease states. The unique design optically amplifies the low signal intensity, whilst maintaining low background noise. The invention opens new markets for strip sensors in the diagnosis of cancers, infections, and cardiovascular diseases, and has been licensed to a number of commercial partners for product development in specific disease categories.

Knowledge Commercialisation Australia is the peak body celebrating leading technology transfer professionals across the country.

These prestigious awards recognise individuals who are changing lives through commercialisation successes in global innovations with the potential to help millions of people and create thousands of jobs in our knowledge industries. 

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