Science

Award: Student Innovators shine

Evelyn Linardy Biotechnology student Evelyn Linardy receives the top innovation award for students (Credit: Onur Karaozbek)
Friday, 13 September, 2013
Science students who developed the Ezy Amp software, which will enable portable diagnostic devices to rapidly test DNA on-site, have won the 2013 UNSW Innovation Award  for students.
 
The technology could be used to detect diseases and contaminants in water.
 
“Simple tests like Ezy Amp can be done by anyone anywhere, like the staff at border control or patients in a remote developing country,” says lead developer and biotechnology student Evelyn Linardy.
 
Evelyn and her team members - Alison Todd, Simon Erskine, Elisa Mokany and Tinma Lonergan - were also student winners for Early Stage Innovatiion.
 
An implantable chip with 98 electrodes that could restore vision to millions of people as part of the heralded bionic eye project won the 2013 UNSW Innovation Award and the Advanced Stage Partnership Award.
 
The 98 electrodes – the largest amount on a permanently implantable chip – stimulate the retina and send signals from an external camera along the optic nerve into the brain where they are interpreted as vision. It could be ready for human trials as early as next year.
 
“What we’re able to do with this device is repaint the picture to the patient much faster than we could before,” says Associate Professor Gregg Suaning from the Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering, the program leader in charge of device development. 
 
The annual Innovation Awards are coordinated by the University’s commercialisation company NewSouth Innovations (NSi) and recognise major research discoveries and inventions made by staff and students.
 
"This event honours the creativity and passion of our researchers at UNSW, and the partnerships that make many of these innovations possible," says Dr Kevin Cullen, CEO of NewSouth Innovations
 
“Not only do we want our innovations to make an impact in society, but we want them to evolve and grow out of meaningful and enduring collaborations with business.” 
 
The 2013 awards recognised ideas along every stage of the innovation path – from invention, through early and advanced stages, to fully developed products with commercial applications. Some of the other winners include:
 
Best New Invention:
 
Saeed Afshar is a student in the School of Electrical Engineering. He has developed a biologically inspired neural network algorithm that can perform real-time object recognition.
 
Early Stage Innovation:
 
Associate Professor John Pimanda and Dr Vashe Chandrakanthan from UNSW Medicine have discovered a way to reprogram developed cells into stem cells for tissue repair.
 
Advanced Stage Innovation:
 
Dr Avudai Avudainayagam and Dr Chitra Avudainayagam from the Faculty of Science have developed a novel eye test for macular degeneration that enables mass vision screening.
 
For the full list of winners visit the NSi website
 
Videos for each of the finalists are viewable here
 
Media contact: Myles Gough, UNSW Media, 02 9385 1933, myles.gough@unsw.edu.au
 
Steve Brodie, NewSouth Innovations, 02 9385 6585, s.brodie@nsinnovations.com.au