Australia’s best innovators of 2014 awarded

By Natsumi Penberthy 21 May 2014
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At the 2014 ATSE Clunies Ross Awards 11 Aussie innovators join the likes of Fiona Wood, who invented spay-on skin for burn victims

AT A GALA BALL in Perth tonight some of Australia’s best scientists, innovators and technologists were celebrated for their achievements. Eleven of them were awarded ATSE (Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering) Clunies Ross Awards for bridging the gap between research and the marketplace.

Like former winners Professor Ian Frazer, inventor of the cervical cancer vaccine; Nobel laureate Dr Barry Marshall who discovered the bacteria that causes stomach ulcers; and Dr Fiona Wood, the inventor of spray-on skin, they are being recognised as for persisting with their ideas, often against the odds, and having come out the other side with advances that have had huge economic, social or environmental benefits.

This year’s awardees are:

Dr John Nutt OAM, Lifetime Achievement Award

John Nutt, famously worked on the finicky analysis and design of the distinctive curves of the Sydney Opera House roof. On this iconic project he also helped pioneer the use of computers in engineering practice. He received a Lifetime of Achievement Award for his tireless work in engineering.

With the company he founded, Ove Arup and Partners, John has been behind many well-known structural landmarks in Sydney such as Governor Phillip Tower, Grosvenor Place, NAB House, 1 O’Connell St, Alliance Stadium, Park Hyatt The Rocks and Star City Casino; six Australian embassies internationally and the Overseas Chinese Banking Corp Head Office in Singapore. His contributions have also had a lasting impact for those in his field and John is also well known for having helped development the first Australian fire code, among other things.


Dr Ezio Rizzardo, Dr Graeme Moad and Dr San Thang, the CSIRO

Plastic money is one of Australia’s great inventions that has made its way around the world. It’s also one of the many things made possible by the revolution of polymer science by this group of chemists at the CSIRO. Bridging the gap between the lab and market shelves, their work finds uses in everything from therapeutics, drug delivery, biomedical materials, plastic solar cells, cosmetics and microelectronics to lubricants, adhesives and paints.

There are 60 international companies currently using their inventions to develop new products. The resulting CSIRO royalty and research income totalled $5.2m over the last three years, and is forecasted to reach $32.85 million by 2020.


Professor Kevin Galvin, University of Newcastle

In 2000 Kevin and his team patented the Reflux Classifier a machine that extracts mineral out of rock in the highest concentrations currently possible. Despite a 40 per cent decrease in yield from mining in Australia over the past 30 years, Kevin’s work has helped generate $6 billion for the Australian economy, and revolutionised mineral processing around the world. Australian export revenues from the Reflux Classifier is estimated to be roughly $1.5 billion each year.


Ravi Ravitharan, Peter Mutton and Graham Tew, Monash University

For over 40 years Ravi, Peter and Graham have led advances in railway technology that have kept north-western Australia’s mining industry moving. It has been estimated that currently BHP Billiton Iron Ore and Rio Tinto Iron Ore alone save in excess of $100 million a year in operating costs through their research. Their work has also resulting in an 85 per cent reduction in rail replacement in Hong Kong.


Professor Eugene Ivanov and Professor Michael Tobar, The University of Western Australia

Over the past 20 years, this University of Western Australia team developed the world’s quietest noise oscillators. The oscillators have been used in laboratories worldwide and enabled modern atomic clocks to keep time with unprecedented accuracy. The technology has been purchased for anything from fundamental research, meteorology, high-tech communications and defence.

All video courtesy of ATSE and Hase Media