13 October 2004

Twenty-one bright sparks who’ve come up with a host of inventions in areas as diverse as cervical cancer and smart microphones, are vying for a slice of $40,000 to get their ideas off the ground.

They are the finalists of Trailblazer 2004 – the second annual innovation competition run by The University of Queensland’s main commercialisation arm, UniQuest.

From 85 entries, 11 UQ researchers and students whose entrepreneurial idea or embryonic research has commercial potential, will win.

There are four open cash prizes of $7,500 each, three student prizes of $2000 each and four highly commended winners of $1000 each.

“Our aim is to promote innovative research and ideas on campus as well as reward researchers who do this well,” UniQuest’s Managing Director David Henderson said.

“We`re also trying to raise awareness about innovation and commercialisation and stimulate more of this activity on campus.

“A UniQuest advisor works with the UQ researchers to achieve the best possible commercial outcome for their innovations.

“This can include patenting the innovation, licensing it to larger organisations, forming start-up companies and sourcing investment funding to progress the innovation`s development.”

This year’s finalists are:

Ms Lesley Roberts (student) – Logicom: Using reasoning and mathematical structures within language to aid legal professionals and policy makers in identifying compliance conditions and simplifying contract clauses.

Dr H Parekh (staff) –Agents to deliver DNA for the treatment of eye disease.

Dr Michael J Monteiro, (staff) – Next Generation Nanostructure: Finding better ways to make dendrimers – complex polymer architectures that have the potential to revolutionise drug delivery and superconductors.

Mr Thorsten Kampmann (student) – Identification of a Lead Component in the Development of a Drug Against Dengue Virus: A compound which has potential as an antiviral drug against the dengue virus.

Ms Dora Lui (student) – A Method to Produce a Concentrated Liquid Soy Protein Product: It will allow food manufacturers to produce more appealing soy products for consumption.

Mr Farshid Homayouni (student) – Innovative Standard Testing Method to Evaluate Anti-Carbonation Coatings Protecting Concrete Structures from Concrete Cancer: A method for evaluating and, potentially, developing coatings for protecting concrete structures from corrosion, particularly in coastal regions.

Mr Gregory Habort (student/staff) – Enhancement to Fluid Jet Flotation Machines: An improved froth flotation process where the valuable mineral component of an ore is separated from the non-valuable.

Associate Professor John Yesberg (staff) – Virtual Interactive Billboard: A new application of an existing technology, this innovation will improve interactive advertising on the internet with benefits for advertisers, service providers and users.

Dr Vaughan Clarkson (staff) – A fast, optimal algorithm for timing recovery in certain communication systems: A means of signal timing recovery to improve the efficiency of mobile, high-speed communications.

Ms Wai Yie Leong (student) and Dr John Homer (staff) – Smart Microphone, Better Hearing System, a creative feature for the conventional microphone and recorder: The Smart Microphone can capture good quality sounds in an extremely noisy environment. Parties will no longer be a barrier to having a normal telephone conversation and journalists can record better quality interviews.

Dr Jon Whitehead (staff) – A novel target for anti-obesity therapeutics: The inhibition of an enzyme involved in the process of increasing fat tissue mass may reduce the increase in fat mass associated with obesity.

Dr Saparna Pai (staff) – Identification of a potential key protein in inflammation and allergy. This discovery could potentially lead to the development of a drug to control allergies as well as test to for allergies.

Dr Wenyi Gu (staff) – Using RNA interference technique to treat cervical cancer: A new and more effective treatment method for cervical cancer patients.

Dr Caroline O`Leary (staff) – Development of rapid diagnostic tests that identify inherited diseases in dogs.

Dr Brent Reynolds (staff) and Dr Rod Rietze (staff) – Purification of neural stem cell populations: Stem cells are the “mother cells” of our body’s cells and they have the potential to allow us to regrow damaged cells or lost limbs. This invention potentially offers science one of the first robust techniques to isolate stem cells from other cells.

Dr Marcus Watson (staff) and Professor Penelope Sanderson (staff) – Bispectral index (BIS) auditory display: An auditory display to help clinicians better monitor depth of anaesthesia.

Ms Louise Earnshaw (student) – The Chutzpah Factor of Entrepreneurship: Earnshaw’s work with at-risk young people has recognised that they often demonstrate the characteristics associated with entrepreneurship, leading to the development of programs of entrepreneurial training for young people.

Mr Larry Weng (student) – An advanced engine optimization control system: This invention provides real time data to a motor vehicle’s Engine Control Unit (which takes care of ignition time and air to fuel ratios), acting like an experienced engineer tuning the engine map in real time while on the road.

Winners will be announced tomorrow [October 14, 4:30-6:30 pm], at a reception in The James and Mary Emelia Mayne Centre, at UQ’s St Lucia campus.

Media: contact Julia Renaud at UniQuest on (phone: 07 3365 4037, email: j.renaud@uniquest.com.au) or Miguel Holland at UQ Communications on (phone: 3365 2619, email: m.holland@uq.edu.au)