UQ Professor Darren Martin.
UQ Professor Darren Martin.
19 June 2012

A quest to explore new research fields brought Darren Martin to Queensland 12 years ago, little realising his work would go on to impact on areas as diverse as wastewater treatment, high-performance engineering and sporting goods.

Professor Martin had a background in developing polyurethane materials for biomedical applications such as pacemakers and was looking for “new possibilities” when he joined The University of Queensland (UQ).

TenasiTech, the start-up company formed based on Professor Martin’s ensuing research, has recently received $1.4 million in additional funding to begin developing a range of products with three multinational industry partners for use in non-competing applications.

TenasiTech, formed by UQ’s main commercialisation company UniQuest to develop and commercialise Professor Martin’s technology, has received $925,000 in State Government funding and $475,000 in follow-on investment from pre-seed investor Uniseed.

This funding will help broaden the scope of Prof Martin’s research group at the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) and UQ’s School of Chemical Engineering as it works to develop polyurethanes with specific, and valuable, performance improvements for industry partners.

In collaboration with TenasiTech and the three industry partners, Professor Martin will develop prototypes of wastewater treatment equipment, next-generation engineering components and the world’s most advanced high performance sports equipment.

The work has a focus on processing and structure-property performance of novel nanocomposite polymers.

It means polymer chemists and materials scientists in the research group develop polyurethanes and test for properties such as strength, flexibility and overall application performance.

“The Queensland Government funding is recognition for hard work, and also a great opportunity to fully translate our ideas into three product applications, with the prospect of more to follow,” Professor Martin said.

“My fantastic team has developed substantial know-how to the point where we now have world’s best practice at a commercial scale.

“I didn’t become a scientist just to publish papers and teach.

"While I enjoy both, I think innovation and taking ideas through to products is in my blood.”

“Scientific curiosity has always motivated me.

"The idea of applying nanotechnology to polyurethanes was very appealing.

“But my main motivation is people.

"Accepting and appreciating a spectrum of personalities and talents, and stitching them together into a functional team that hums along beautifully – now that’s satisfying! “

Media enquiries:
AIBN: Erik de Wit (0427 281 466, 3346 3962 or e.dewit@uq.edu.au)
UniQuest: Leanne Wyvill +61 7 3365 4037, 0409 767 199 or l.wyvill@uniquest.com.au
TenasiTech: Richard Marshall, Managing Director 0411 600 314 or richard@tenasitech.com
Uniseed: Richard Marshall, Investment Manager, 0411 600 314 or r.marshall@uniseed.com

About AIBN www.aibn.uq.edu.au
The Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) is an integrated multi-disciplinary research institute bringing together the skills of world-class researchers in the areas of bioengineering and nanotechnology. It is home to 20 research groups working at the interface of biological, chemical and physical science to alleviate problems in human health; improve energy storage and conversion methods; and address environmental issues. The focus of AIBN's research efforts is on developing new products, processes and devices for improving human health and quality of life. In this way the institute goes beyond basic research to promote and develop the growth of innovative industries, which will benefit the Queensland and Australian economies.

About TenasiTech www.tenasitech.com
TenasiTech is a materials company commercializing Adaptive Polyol™ which delivers dramatic improvements in the mechanical strength, creep resistance, compressive set, chemical resistance, thermo-stability and other materials performance and processing properties of polyurethanes. These improvements are made with no trade-off in the material’s clarity or flexibility. The company has secured close to a million dollars in equity capital from Uniseed since 2008. TenasiTech is based in Brisbane Australia with manufacturing capability in the US, Germany and Australia. The underlying patented technology was developed at The University of Queensland and the company was established by UniQuest, the main commercialisation company at The University of Queensland, and the technology licensed to TenasiTech in 2007.

About Uniseed www.uniseed.com
Uniseed is a $61 million commercialisation fund operating at the Universities of Queensland, New South Wales and Melbourne. Apart from these three universities, Australian Super, one of Australia’s largest superannuation funds, is also a member. Uniseed has made over 30 investments in technologies arising from its partner universities, including Vintela (AVCAL Best Early Stage Deal 2005) and QRx-Pharma (largest biotech IPO in ASX history).

About UniQuest www.uniquest.com.au
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. From an intellectual property portfolio of 1500+ patents it has created over 70 companies, and since 2000 UniQuest and its start-ups have raised more than A$450 million to take university technologies to market. Annual sales of products using UQ technology and licensed by UniQuest are running at A$3 billion. UniQuest now commercialises innovations developed at The University of Queensland including the Institute for Molecular Bioscience and its commercialisation partner institutions: the University of Wollongong, University of Technology Sydney, James Cook University, University of Tasmania, Mater Medical Research Institute, and Queensland Health. UniQuest also provides access to an expansive and exclusive network of independent academics to tailor a consulting or project R&D solution to meet the diverse needs of industry and government, facilitating some 500 consulting, expert opinion, testing, and contract research services each year.

UniQuest is also a leading Australasian provider of international development assistance recognised for excellence in technical leadership, management and research. Working with agencies such as AusAID, NZAID, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank, UniQuest has developed and implemented more than 400 projects in 60+ countries throughout the Pacific, South-East Asia, the Indian sub-continent and Africa.