Thirty-one Queensland innovators win $50k each

An artificial heart and a modular bathroom for the mining industry are among the 31 innovations to win up to $50,000 funding as part of a program titled What’s your big idea Queensland?


A joint initiative of the Queensland Government and Australian Industry Group, the $5.5 million program provides SMEs throughout the state with up to $50,000 to commercialise their ideas.


The program was launched in 2010 and, following the success of the first two rounds, the government has allocated a further $3 million for two additional rounds in 2012.


Jan Jarratt, Minister for Tourism, Manufacturing and Small Business, says the program attracted more than 900 applications over rounds one and two.


According to Jarratt, two thirds of the winners were from regional areas.


“Many of the innovations were cleverly targeted at the mining industry, which is going to provide opportunities as the upcoming boom moves into full swing,” Jarratt said in a statement.  


“Similarly, energy-saving technologies were a common theme that shows Queensland businesses are responding quickly to the trend toward low-carbon living.”


Among the winners in round two was Vonact, launched in 2010, which has designed and engineered a modular composite bathroom specifically aimed at the mining sector.


“Vonact aims to design, manufacture and sell its proprietary modular composite bathroom design to mining accommodation construction firms both within Australia and overseas,” it says.


“Our long-term goal is to establish Vonact as a leading modular composite parts innovator and supplier.”


Another standout was BiVACOR, founded in 2008, which is developing a biventricular artificial heart, designed to be surgically implanted and connected to the natural heart of patients.


It can also serve as a substitute, totally replacing the function of the heart. The BiVACOR team is now poised to progress its latest prototype through a series of preclinical trials.


“The market for the BiVACOR device is global, with more than 11 million people suffering from heart failure worldwide,” the company says.


“While a heart transplant would meet their needs, only 4,000 donor hearts are available each year. Artificial hearts address this large and underserved patient population.”


Meanwhile, Cleantech UV International, which has been operating for four years, is designing and developing a purpose-built mattress-sanitising device.


The device is designed to tackle secondary infections associated with hospital beds. Cleantech technicians are also available to undertake a bed bug inspection prior to the sanitising process.


“This technology has [taken] four years in research and development. It has been tested and accredited in Europe, Australia and the USA,” managing director Lee Kelman says.


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