16 June 2009

Promising new University of Queensland research projects have the potential to revolutionise a diversity of industries, including healthcare, security, chemical, horticulture, energy and electronics.

The research, including an electronic chip which can detect explosives from their chemical "odour", a plant compound to propagate seedlings, and an arthritis diagnostic, significantly impressed the judging panel for the 2009 Trailblazer awards - an annual ideas competition run by UQ's main commercialisation company, UniQuest.

The winners shared in $40,000 prize money as well as the opportunity to work with UniQuest to develop their skills in pitching their ideas to commercialisation experts.

An extraordinary level of innovation was evident this year, according to UniQuest Managing Director David Henderson.

"Trailblazer is a competition which rewards and stimulates cutting-edge thinking and yet again we were privy to innovations with the potential to benefit the community, industry and business as well as be commercially successful," he said.

"Our thanks go to Platinum sponsors, Davies Collison Cave Intellectual Property Advisers and Fisher Adams Kelly Patent Attorneys; Gold sponsors, Griffith Hack and ShelstonIP; and Silver sponsors Southern Cross Venture Partners, who made it possible for UniQuest to run Trailblazer for its seventh year."

Open category winners ($7500):
Ms Amanda Rasmussen, Science: Discovered a new plant-derived chemical that controls root formation on cuttings - inhibiting the production of this chemical to encourage better root growth has the potential to transform plantation forestry as well as the production of garden, ornamental and endangered plants.

Dr Gethin Thomas, Ms Ran Duan and Professor Matthew Brown, UQ Diamantina Institute: Developing a diagnostic for Ankylosing spondylitis, a severe form of arthritis, to enable early detection and preventative treatment.

Dr Muhsen Aljada, Australian Institute for Bionengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN): A futuristic technology for use in flat screen television displays, which will allow transparent and flexible screens to be produced with low power consumption and manufacturing costs

Mr Andrew Clulow, Professor Paul Burn and Professor Justin Cooper-White, Science: Created a sensing chip technology which can accurately detect explosives from the odours they release.

Student category winners ($2000):
Mr David Thomson, AIBN: Concept technology for understanding single molecule protein interactions, which is a potentially valuable tool for identifying new therapeutic drugs.

Mr Simon Tannock, Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Techology (EAIT): A device for converting renewable energy sources (wind, waves, rivers) into clean, green electricity in homes or full-scale power plants.

Mr Gregory Evans, Health Sciences: A psychology program incorporating best evidence-based techniques to promote and increase happiness.
Open Category - Highly Commended ($1000)
Dr Jens Kromer, AIBN: A sustainable bio-process utilising sugar cane juice to produce an important compound for the chemical industry.

Professor Jim Rothwell, Dr Peter Murray & Associate Professor Anne Goldizen, Faculty of Natural Resources, Agriculture and Veterinary Science (NRAVS): For the first time, a practical, safe way to eradicate the Australian paralysis tick from parks and bushland.

Student Category - Highly Commended ($1000)
Mr Peter George (& Professor Justin Cooper-White), EAIT: An innovation to improve the quality, cost and efficiency of producing proteins used in improving the performance of pharmaceutical drugs

Mr Richard Mills (& Dr Michael Doran, Professor Justin Cooper-White), AIBN: A microdevice for providing advanced information about cell migration - invaluable information in cancer and embryology research.

About UniQuest
Established by The University of Queensland in 1984, UniQuest is widely recognised as one of Australia's largest and most successful university commercialisation groups, benchmarking in the top tier of technology transfer worldwide. The company's charter is to identify, package and commercialise research-based technologies, expertise and facilities to the community, industry, business and government. It has created more than 60 companies, and since 2000 UniQuest and its start-ups have raised a quarter of a billion dollars to take UQ technologies to market. Sales of products using UQ technology and licensed by UniQuest are now running at $5.2 billion per year. UniQuest now commercialises research, expertise and technologies developed at The University of Queensland, University of Wollongong, University of Technology Sydney, James Cook University and the Mater Medical Research Institute. For more information about UniQuest, please visit www.uniquest.com.au

Media inquiries: UniQuest - Leanne Wyvill (07 3365 4037, 0409 767 199)