Australian Innovation

Best and Most Innovative Ideas in Tropical North Queensland

On Friday 5 November 2010, Cairns Regional Council hosted the inaugural Tropical Innovation Awards to showcase the best and most innovative ideas in Tropical North Queensland.

The awards offered the opportunity for innovators to showcase the commercial value of their innovation and contribute to the potential of the region. The awards event was attended by 230 people, including Cairns Mayor Val Schier and Minister Steve Wettenhall.

The night’s proceedings were hosted by Andrew Griffiths (Australia’s #1 Business Author), Sally Dominguez (from the ABC’s The New Inventors Show) and Robyn Williams (science journalist and broadcaster on the Radio National's Science Show).

The culmination of the evening was the announcement of the five category winners:

Innovation of the Year winner, Placid Pools, have designed the Eco Splash System, a water-purification system developed specifically for tropical pools.  It relies on natural biofilm cultivation, natural media, specific flow-rates and aquatic plants to produce crystal-clean pure water.

PolePower, winner of the Eco Innovation award, have developed a photovoltaic generation system which maximises unused space on electricity distribution and streetlight poles to generate clean, green energy close to the point of use.

Tropical Innovation award winner, Dr Glen Deakin, has designed a CoolMe vest for situations that involve intensive short duration activities where strong cooling is essential to counteract heat stress.

Enviro Fibre, winner of the Emerging Innovation award, have developed a paper pulp/textile from sugar cane waste. A by-product of the environmentally sound process is a high quality potash fertilizer.

The People's Choice award, voted by the public, was won by Aquapax which provides 1000 litre transportable bulk, micro-filtered drinking water to people and businesses in remote regions all over Australia.

Dr John Kapeleris, Deputy CEO of the AIC, and one of the three judges of the awards commented, “Through Premier Anna Bligh’s support, the Australian Institute for Commercialisation has been delivering a number of innovation programs to assist Tropical North Queensland businesses transition from their traditional dependence on the tourism Industry. The AIC, as part of its commitment to “Toward Q2”, has worked with over 200 businesses in Tropical North Queensland, assisting them with innovation services, practical solutions and advice and enhancing the innovation capability in the region”.

Robert Buhrke, AIC’s Innovation Coach in North Queensland, and member of the awards steering committee said, “It was truly amazing to see the result of our work at the awards night. We have worked very passionately with a whole team of dedicated people to make this happen in Cairns. I am very pleased with the extremely positive feedback we have received and we have already started the planning process to deliver an even bigger and better Tropical Innovation Awards event in 2011. Most importantly, I’d like to make the point that this is all about the inventors and innovators of this region and we (the AIC and the steering committee) will follow up with every applicant to ensure we do the best we can to help them to get their products to market. We really want to see innovators and entrepreneurs succeeding, so stay tuned, we will announce further details in the coming weeks.”

A range of cash and in-kind prizes were provided by supporters of awards including a $10,000 cash prize courtesy of James Cook University and a $5,000 professional business assistance package provided by Outsource Management Pty Ltd for Innovation of the Year winner, Placid Pools.

For further information about the Tropical Innovation Awards please visit www.tropicalinnovationawards.com or contact Katrina Houghton (email: k.houghton(at)cairns.qld.gov.au or call 07 4044 3347).

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