Finding a path to market for AIBN ideas

10 Jul 2014

Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) has received over $60,000 from the 2014 opening round of UniQuest’s Pathfinder grant scheme to support the commercialisation and development of 3 innovations.

Pathfinder is UniQuest’s early stage, commercial proof-of-concept grant scheme to support the development of innovations towards a commercialisation outcome at the University of Queensland (UQ).

Professor Darren Martin will lead a Pathfinder supported project aiming to commercialise nanocellulose enhanced polymer materials with $23,000 in funding. His research group at AIBN have turned Spinifex grass into high performance cellulose nanofibres, a nanomaterial with a large surface area and exceptional mechanical properties.

This renewable material, developed from an Australian native grass, has the potential to enhance the mechanical properties of polymers, potentially allowing the technology to be applied to the fabrication of high strength composites for metal replacement and other applications. 

Professor Michael Yu will use his $21,000 award to assist in the commercialisation of a new generation of low-cost adsorbents with controlled nanostructure and morphology for arsenic removal. 

Arsenic contamination in groundwater and drinking water affects over 100 million people worldwide and causes severe health problems. The unique microstructure of the UQ material developed in Profess Michael Yu’s lab allows it to adsorb 4–10 times more arsenic than market leading materials. The technology also encompasses a manufacturing process for the adsorbent which uses inexpensive raw materials.

With the support of a Pathfinder proof-of-concept grant, Dr Frank Sainsbury will use $19,000 to add value to a new technology for the delivery of therapeutics, using a self-assembled targeting nanoemulsion. 

Dr Sainsbury’s project will develop a delivery-platform for targeting chemotherapeutic drugs to cancer cells. The nanoemulsion comprises pharmaceutical-grade oil that carries the small-molecule drugs.  The nano-sized oil-droplets have the potential to be used to sequester poorly soluble drugs and selectively deliver them to cancer tumours, minimising side-effects and significantly increasing the delivery of the drug to cancer tumours rather than healthy cells.

Since 2005, UniQuest has provided more than $4 million in commercialisation funding to over 140 projects to help them find a path to market. 

The Pathfinder Program has been supported by the Queensland State Government.