Funding frustration for inventor

David Smith with a surfboard retro-fitted with the integrated Surfsafe system.
David Smith with a surfboard retro-fitted with the integrated Surfsafe system.

Mr Smith, from surfsafe.net.au, said he began developing his product Surfsafe in June 2012, a completely integrated electronic system that emits voltage in a high- frequency pattern from two electrodes built into the surfboard.

The electrical field extends to three metres around the surfboard and activates as soon as it touches the water.

Mr Smith, who grew up in Marmion, said he was frustrated the State Government had chosen to allocate close to $1 million towards shark baiting and patrolling but ignored a product that has been successfully tested and is already on the market.

‘I am extremely proud of this WA product. Research is costly and I have put everything I own on the line. We’ve got a product that we think is very effective and has proven to be effective with large predatory sharks,’ Mr Smith said.

‘Especially with a product that’s already proven to be very user-friendly to surfers and water users, I think that some funding should be put towards it.’

Mr Smith said although the State Government had provided some funding to research, more products and studies needed to be considered before baiting hooks.

‘I think the Government has definitely done a back flip because they’re still helping with research but going out and culling sharks is just not the answer.

‘I have approached various universities and government departments with little or no response. I spent countless hours applying for a grant with no luck.’

A spokesman for the Department of Premier and Cabinet said the State Government had already granted more than $900,000 to four research programs last year.

‘The State Government has committed more than $20 million over four years towards shark mitigation strategies, including more than $5 million specifically earmarked for research,’ he said.

The spokesman said although Mr Smith was not successful in his application, he had the opportunity to apply for a second round of funding, which he did not.

The surfboard shaper of more than 20 years said he believed the locally developed product would be beneficial for WA, but he was having to look interstate for funding from universities.

Mr Smith said the product could be retrofitted to any board, surf ski or bodyboard.