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New Ideas Set to Boost Nsw’s Innovation Ecosystem

Minimising food packaging waste, combating Wi-Fi blackspots and tackling airborne diseases are just some of the problems that the latest recipients of the NSW Government’s R&D Innovation Districts Challenge are trying to solve. 


The Innovation Districts Challenge, facilitated through Investment NSW, brings together the NSW Government, universities and Australia’s national science agency CSIRO to help businesses accelerate the development of new R&D products and services to market.


Minister for Enterprise, Investment and Trade Stuart Ayres said backing innovative companies in emerging areas would help to enhance Australia’s sovereign manufacturing capabilities and boost local supply chains.   


“We have seen the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on supply chains, which is why it’s critical we back home-grown innovative companies looking to expand and grow right here in NSW,” Mr Ayres said.


“The challenge winners represent a range of companies in different sectors who are united in their efforts to solve big problems which impact all people in NSW.”


The Challenge’s entrepreneurship round winners sharing in $500,000 seed funding are:


  • $250,000 – Planet Protector Packaging, which has collaborated with the University of Wollongong to develop a sustainable thermal packaging solution. The alternative to polystyrene will be used in supply chains for the shipment of temperature sensitive foods, alcohol and pharmaceuticals.


  • $100,000 – Zetifi, working with Charles Sturt University has developed a wireless network that delivers higher speed and more reliable internet and Wi-Fi into households and businesses currently served only by satellite or ADSL. Focusing on regional areas the company aims to help people living in regional Australia to work remotely.


  • $30,000 – BioScout working with the University of Sydney has developed an autonomous airborne disease sensor that aims to solve biosecurity challenges for farmers.


  • $10,000 each to 12 local winners of each innovation district: Muzeek, First People Solutions, Emotiv Research, Kardinia Energy, Vesi Water, Osana 1, Sea Health Products, Harwood Slipway, Andi Health, SwitcH2 Engineering, Medical Monitoring Solutions and AtOne Australia.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier Gabrielle Upton said increasing the commercialisation of more research is the central priority of the NSW Government’s R&D Action Plan.


“It’s great to see so many diverse collaborations from so many different universities and businesses across the state. By working together, the private and public sectors can solve important emerging problems and help the economy grow,” Ms Upton said.


Planet Protector Packaging CEO Joanne Howarth said the company was grateful for the support from Investment NSW and the University of Wollongong.


“Planet Protector Packaging is beyond excited to be announced as a recipient of the NSW R&D Innovation Districts Challenge. We look forward to our continuing collaboration with the University of Wollongong as we transform food and pharmaceutical supply chains across Oceania,” Ms Howarth said.


University of Wollongong Vice Chancellor Professor Patricia Davidson shared the excitement about the news.


“The University of Wollongong is thrilled with Planet Protector Packaging’s win, which will benefit the company, the local economy and the planet,” Ms Davidson said.


The NSW Government R&D Innovation Districts Challenges program is part of an $11 million innovation scaleup commitment, designed to support business communities across NSW to develop innovations to tackle the many challenges of COVID-19.



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Stuart Ayres - Member for Penrith

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