Innovations that heal

Curtin Commercial Innovation Award winners Xin Shao, Gordon Parkinson, Dehua Dong and Chun-Zhu Li from Curtin University’s Fuels and Energy Technology Institute.
Curtin Commercial Innovation Award winners Xin Shao, Gordon Parkinson, Dehua Dong and Chun-Zhu Li from Curtin University’s Fuels and Energy Technology Institute.

Dehua Dong and his team from the Fuels and Energy Technology Institute won first place for making membranes that can speed up the extraction rate of oxygen out of a selected gas or liquid mixture.

Rohan McDougall, director of Curtin’s Office of IP Commercialisation, said there was a strong market demand to replace the present process for making oxygen with a more cost-effective process.

‘The production of pure oxygen is a global business worth about $20 billion per year, used in a number of applications such as steel-making, medicine, the production of liquid fuels and more environmentally friendly combustion of fossil fuels,’ Mr McDougall said.

Matthew Oldakowski and his colleagues finished runners-up for developing a novel spinal stabilisation implant, the SZ Device, for use in the cervical spine to treat neck pain.

Mr McDougall said the innovation stood apart from other devices because it maintained some movement in the stabilised spinal segment and, therefore, did not require a bone graft during the fusion procedure.

‘As a consequence, this innovation eliminates the need for fusion procedures, potentially reducing trauma, surgical complications and cost,’ Mr McDougall said.

The Early Research Career Award was presented to Elizabeth Grenik and her team for developing an innovation that addressed chronic wound healing such as diabetic foot ulcers.

‘Diabetic foot ulcers are responsible for more hospitalisations than any other complication of diabetes, with current healing techniques including compression bandaging and topical creams not sufficient to completely heal the wound,’ Mr McDougall said.

‘This innovation has the ability to provide complete healing of ulcers and, in turn, will reduce the number of patients needing to be hospitalised.’

Prizes this year totalled more than $40,000 in cash and commercialisation services.