Nanotechnology in Queensland, Australia: Market Report

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Introduction
Nanotechnology Organizations
Nanotechnology Companies
Nanotechnology Education and Research
Recent Developments

Introduction

Australia is a continent located between the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific Ocean. The total area of the country is 7,741,220 km2 with a population of 22,015,576 as of July 2012.

Queensland (QLD), commonly known as the sunshine state, is located in the northeast of the country. It is the second largest state covering an area of 1,852,642 km2 and third most populous state in with 4,332,737 inhabitants in 2011, an increase over 2006 number of 11%.Australia.

In 2011-12, Queensland had a GDP of $283.6 billion, which equates to 19% of the national GDP. Tourism and mining industries has dominated this region. Primary industries also include pineapples, bananas, peanuts, variety of tropical and temperate fruit and vegetables, grain crops, wineries, cattle raising, cotton, sugar cane and wool.

Investing in scientific research is a key part of Queensland government's goal of creating a prosperous and diverse economy. They see these developments as a way to improve the performance of traditional industries, as well as creating new knowledge-based industries. Nanotechnology is a specific area that has been identified that can be supported through funding, collaborative arrangements, skills development and facilities.

Nanotechnology Organizations

A brief introduction to the key nanotechnology-related organization in Queensland, Australia is given below:

  • ARC Centre for Functional Nanomaterials - The ARC Centre for Functional Nanomaterials was established in November 2003 under the Australian Research Council's Centre of Excellence Program (Reserved Round). The Centre is a world class centre of excellence with leading Australian researchers in nanomaterials. It has two branches, one is at the University of Queensland.

Nanotechnology Companies

Nanotechnology is a versatile field with vast number of applications in a multiple industries. The major nanotechnology companies in Queensland, Australia are listed below along with a brief introduction to each of them.

Alchemia Limited - Alchemia is a listed Australian biotechnology company (ASX:ACL).  The Company has particular expertise in chemistry, which it has applied to the discovery and development of human therapeutic products. 

PicaMS - PicaMS is a Brisbane-based company which provides a range of scientific problem solving services based on techniques derived from physical sciences and materials nano-characterisation. Their mission is to enable development of better materials and better products for the manufacturing, engineering and resource industries through nanocharacterisation and physical modeling.

TenasiTech Pty Ltd - Welcome to TenasiTech Pty Ltd, the clear choice for high performance composite polymers. TenasiTech is commercializing Adaptive Polyol™ - a new way of incorporating patented, high functioning additives in polymer precursors for maximum flexibility, consistency and performance. In addition they are supplying the additives themselves for incorporation in finished polymers. Their technology is providing new materials options for customers in engineering, sporting and water treatment applications. They are working in multiple polymer families and can customize their additive technology to suit customer’s specific requirements.

UniQuest - UniQuest is one of Australia’s leading research commercialisation companies, specialising in global technology transfer and facilitating access for all business sectors to world class university expertise, intellectual property and facilities. UniQuest's innovation portfolio includes Australia's first blockbuster vaccine Gardasil®, Australia's largest biotech IPO QRxPharma Ltd, the internationally acclaimed Triple P Positive Parenting Program, and UQ’s superconductor technology used in two-thirds of the world's MRI machines.

Very Small Particle Co. Ltd (VSPC)- VSPC is an Australian materials technology company established in 1999 to develop and commercialise a unique manufacturing process to produce complex metal oxides at the nanoscale. The versatile process produces metal oxides that are superior compared to competitor materials in terms of complexity, reproducibility and small size. This small size of particles and corresponding high surface area of the cathode material shortens the distance over which lithium ions must travel, making for a powerful battery capable of high-speed power delivery.

NanoChem - NanoChem personnel have been actively working in the formaldehyde industry since 1992. NanoChem initially developed an optimized silver catalyst based upon years of research on the molecular scale to determine the reaction mechanism by which silver catalysts operated. They also provide solutions for the water industry, soil remediation, and pet care products.

Hydrexia - Hydrexia is based in Brisbane, Australia. It was spun out of the University of Queensland in 2006, and is commercialising hydrogen storage systems. Hydrexia is focused on delivered quantities greater than 10kg of hydrogen, and is working with several world leading companies in existing and emerging applications such as Industrial merchant hydrogen storage and delivery, Hydrogen refueling infrastructure, and Energy storage.        

Nanotechnology Education and Research

Queensland, Australia is home to many world-class universities offering research and educational opportunities in nanotechnology. Provided below is a list of universities and academic institutions in Queensland that are involved in research covering distinct applications of nanoscience.

University of Queenslandoffers the Bachelor of Biotechnology program and the Bachelor of Science (Honours) program that has a module on Nanotechnology. The University promotes the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN), which is an integrated multi-disciplinary research institute bringing together the skills of world-class researchers in the areas of bioengineering and nanotechnology. The Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis (CMM) is another interdisciplinary research, teaching and service centre which plays an integral role within the science programs of the University, participating both in undergraduate and postgraduate education.

Griffith University - The University promotes the Queensland Micro- and Nanotechnology Centre (QMNC), which is a science and engineering research centre investigating micro- and nanotechnology problems that are integral to the development of clean and intelligent systems. The University also offers an Undergraduate level course on Biopolitics & Nature that includes a module on nanotechnology.

Queensland University of Technology (QUT)is involved in a wide range of research projects. One of the areas they are dealing with is Solar-powered nano-sensors. QUT is working with research partners in Australia and Italy to create a new class of solar-powered nano-sensors capable of detecting pollution and monitoring the environment in remote areas.

University of Southern Queenslandpromotes the Centre of Excellence in Engineered Fibre Composites (CEEFC), which is one of the key research centres in Australia to focus on research and development of fibre (from macro scale down to nano-scale) reinforced polymer/clement composite materials for different engineering applications. The Centre provides services to the industry through collaborative research, consultancy activities, knowledge sharing platforms and industrial-engaged research degree programs.

Central Queensland University - offers Honours Projects at its Gladstone Campus that include The Effects of Nanoparticles on Aquatic Species.

Bond University- promotes the Clem Jones Research Centre for Stem Cells & Tissue Regenerative Therapies. One of the projects at the centre is Macular Degeneration Project  in which their key objectives include engineering artificial retinal biomimetic 3-dimensional scaffolds using nanotechnology.

Recent Developments

The 4th International Conference on Smart Materials and Nanotechnology in Engineering will be organized by the Centre of Excellence in Engineered Fibre Composites, University of Southern Queensland It will be held on the Gold Coast, from 10-12 July 2013. The objective of the conference is to form a platform for scientists and engineers to discuss advances in smart materials and nanotechnology for the future development of engineering applications.

This will be followed immediately by International Workshop on Soft and Flexible Micro-Nano System Technology, which will be held at Griffith University on the Gold Coast from July 12-14, 2013.

The Biennial Australian Colloid and Interface Symposium was held in Noosa, Queensland between 3 and 7 February, 2013. The Colloid and Interface Science Community in Australia includes those involved with research on nanoparticles and other nano-based work. The symposium had a session titled ‘Frontiers of Colloid and Interface’, which covered many nanotech-related topics.

The International Conference on Emerging Advanced Nanomaterials or ICEAN-2012 was successfully completed in October 2012 in Mercure Hotel – Brisbane. This conference provided the much-needed multi-disciplinary forum to connect scientists, researchers and entrepreneurs in area of merging advanced materials and their industrial, biomedical, electronic, photonics, energy and environmental applications.

Researchers at the University of Queensland's AIBN are collaborating with Chinese Academy of Sciences to develop nanocatalysts to reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) using a catalytic oxidation process. These emissions are known to be toxic to human health.

AIBN researchers are also partnering with the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation to develop a nano-vaccine that will combat three bovine diseases that are estimated to cost Australian producers more than $200 million annually.

Brisbane Materials, a UniQuest cleantech startup secured $5 million in series A funding to further their research and commercialisation of a nano-porous silica film that can be applied to solar photovoltaic panels under atmospheric conditions. The film forms an anti-reflective coating that significantly improves the efficiency of the solar panels.

On a commercial front, TensaiTech have established a US office in March 2013 which will connect them to the valuable US market.

Queensland is a popular venue for nanotechnology-related conferences and events. While there are no notable recent developments from universities such as the University of Southern Queensland and Griffith University, the fact that they are key to organising these events indicates they must be active in this field. Combined with the reported developments at the University of Queensland, this Australian state, more noted for tourism, appears to have a vibrant nanoscience and nanotechnology community.

References

  1. ABS - GSP Data (PDF)
  2. ABS - Population data
  3. Queensland - Scientific Research
  4. Green feel for collaboration with China
  5. Next-generation cattle vaccine research expected to save the industry millions
  6. UQ start-up secures first Southern Cross Renewable Energy investment
  7. TenasiTech established US office

 

Date Added: May 27, 2013 | Updated: Jun 26, 2013
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