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Australian Technologies Competition – is it the last hurrah?

Australian CleanTech managing director John O’Brien John O'Brien

In what may be its final year, the Australian Technologies Competition has picked a list of winners that chair of the judges Ben Waters says are expected to see significant export growth and create many high-value Australian jobs.

“We had a hard task picking the winners as so many of the finalists have huge global potential,” Mr Waters said.

The winners came from across the built environment, energy, agritech, marine engineering, advanced manufacturing and local government sectors.

This was the first year the competition has included an Innovative Regions Award, which was won by the Greater Adelaide Region, in recognition of its 109 innovation programs, 14 co-working spaces and 11 incubators for clean technology, advanced manufacturing and other start-up enterprises.

“Adelaide has worked hard over the last few years to understand and enhance our innovation ecosystem and has now achieved a remarkable level of collaboration and coordination across a rich landscape of support,” Dr Felicity-Ann Lewis, chairperson of Regional Development Australia Adelaide Metropolitan said.

Competition organiser and Australian CleanTech managing director John O’Brien said the new award recognised that successful start-up technology companies “usually emerge from a supportive innovation ecosystem”.

“We want to help grow and celebrate the best regions so Australia can generate even more world leading tech companies,” Mr O’Brien said.

He said that despite the fact the competition had created more than $250 million worth of economic value over the past five years with only $750,000 in total government funding, there had been no commitment to further funding.

“An excellent cross section of Australian technology businesses comes together for this annual program, which is being increasingly recognised as a successful platform for developing and showcasing cutting edge Australian technology companies and growing their global access,” Mr O’Brien said.

He said it was “ironic” the government had stated it was backing innovation, though its lack of support could mean the end of the ATC.

Other winners

Pacific Environment, a firm that specialises in cloud-hosted environmental management, monitoring and mitigation solutions, won the Built Environment Award for its EnviroSuite technology.

The cloud-hosted digital toolkit assists building managers and businesses with optimising occupant comfort, safety and productivity while also reducing energy use.

“EnviroSuite has enormous potential for monitoring and forecasting environmental impacts on the built environment. Its provision of real-time environmental intelligence via smart phone, tablet or desktop makes it an incredibly user friendly technology for responsible corporate citizenship,” Mr O’Brien said.

The Energy Technology Award was won by GreenSync, the developer of a suite of software products designed to reduce peaks in electricity use for networks, customers and generators, including microgrid systems.

Since launching in 2012 the company has been undergoing significant expansion, with a Singapore office opened in May this year. Its products have been used by a range of businesses, including the Sydney Olympic Park Authority.

The winner of Company of the Year and the Food & Agritech awards was Calix, a Sydney company that has developed an eco-friendly magnesium-based foliar spray for plants that reduces the need to use toxic fungicides and pesticides. The company is currently in the process of registering the product for use on tropical crops across South-East Asia including bananas, pineapple, cassava and coffee, and it is being trialled on vineyards in France.

The Advanced Manufacturing Award was won by Sydney firm Ocius Technology, which has designed and delivered a range of low-carbon marine vessels including commuter ferries with solar sails that are currently operating in Hong Kong and Sydney Harbour. The company has developed renewable energy based propulsion systems, and also rigid opening sails for large commercial vessels that enable them to harness wind power more effectively.

Other winners were Melvelle Equipment – the Global Development Award; Southern Innovation – both the Mining Technologies Award and People’s Choice Award; and Raygen Resources, which was honoured with the Alumni Award.

RayGen signed a manufacturing deal in September this year with China’s JuYe solar for the construction of a manufacturing plant for RayGen’s concentrated solar photovoltaic systems to supply both domestic and offshore markets.

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