Australian Innovation Challenge awards: Share in $70,000

19 June 2012

The Australian in association with Shell and with support from the Commonwealth Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education is offering $70,000 in awards for the nation's greatest ideas.

The goal is to help drive game-changing breakthroughs by scientists, engineers, technologists, educators and backyard inventors to commercialisation or adoption.

The newspaper is renewing the search for the nation's top innovators following the resounding success of last year's inaugural challenge, which attracted more than 300 entries. Entrants included teams led by Australia's latest Nobel laureate Brian Schmidt and another including triple Olympic gold medallist rower Drew Ginn.

The awards are open to both individuals and teams, and finalists will be featured in The Weekend Australian over several weeks to showcase their work.

"The calibre of entries submitted in 2011 was astounding" Clive Mathieson, editor of The Australian, said. "They came from backyard sheds, university halls and prestigious laboratories across the country. We're keen to see what ideas we'll uncover this time round."

Dr Terry Cutler, CSIRO deputy chairman and leader of the federal government's 2008 review of the national innovation system, will head the judging panel again this year.

The awards have seven professional categories, each carrying a prize of $5000. The overall winner of the professional categories will receive a further $25,000. An eighth category, Backyard Innovation, is open to the general public and has a $10,000 prize. The categories are:

  • minerals and energy
  • environment, agriculture and food
  • education
  • health
  • ICT
  • manufacturing and hi-tech design
  • community services
  • backyard innovation

Last year, Professor Mark Kendall, of the University of Queensland, and his team took out the overall prize for a patch to replace needles and syringes in vaccination.

The Nanopatch could save millions of lives, with its biggest impact expected to be in developing countries. It is projected to be on the market within 10 years.

Visit The Australian Innovation Challenge to enter.

Entries close 12 August 2012.