World-changing innovations that began in Australian universities
By Damon Frith
Offering more than quality education to Australian and international young minds, these Australian universities and their students are responsible for world-changing innovations.
Australian universities are a hotbed of creativity and fresh thinking. Exceptional research facilities, strong industry partnerships and funding opportunities give our best thinkers the space and resources they need to produce innovations that change lives.
In fact, over a billion people rely on Australian inventions every day. Breakthrough products like the black box flight recorder, Cochlear implant and Wi-Fi were all designed in Australia. Our universities are constantly working on inventions and treatments that will revolutionise industry, healthcare and the environment. Here are some of the latest ideas to come from our best and brightest minds.
The number of electronic devices used around the world is skyrocketing as individuals perpetually upgrade to the latest tech. Researchers at Sydney’s UNSW resolved to find a solution to the enormous quantities of e-waste generated each year as people throw away their old devices. The e-waste microfactory is the first of its kind, transforming tech waste like computer circuit boards into metal alloys such as copper and tin. Rather than simply sending waste to landfill, the microfactory sorts and recycles devices to extract valuable products, revolutionising the traditional lifecycle of a phone or laptop.
The Australian agricultural industry is a huge contributor to the nation’s economy. Universities and research facilities are racing to find ways to optimise production and keep up with increasing demand. Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT) Agbot is a weed detection robot that improves weeding efficiency by 90 per cent. It works autonomously to detect, classify and spot spray weeds, using a robotic hoe to mechanically remove them from the soil. It’s estimated that the revolutionary Agbot II will save the farming economy around $1.3 billion a year in weeding costs. The impact of QUT’s robotic technology is not only being seen above ground. QUT’s RangerBot is the world’s first underwater robotic system designed specifically to monitor issues facing coral reefs such as coral bleaching, pests, and water pollution. “The RangerBot can stay under water almost three times longer than a human diver, gather more data, and operate in all conditions and at all times of the day or night, including where it may not be safe for a human diver” explains QUT Professor Matthew Dunbabin, who helped launch the reef protecting drone.
Diabetes is a disease that affects millions of people around the world. The Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra set up a spin-off company, Beta Therapeutics, to research and produce a commercial diabetes treatment. The work resulted in an important new understanding about how diabetes works and the development of a therapy to tackle type one diabetes. The groundbreaking treatment has so far been proven to limit the severity and prevent the onset of diabetes, and continues to be refined.
Monash University in Melbourne is frequently ranked the most innovative in Australia by Reuters. The 3D printed jet engine is just one of the many inventions to come from its research labs and spin-out companies. The 3D printed jet engine, which was created using the most advanced metal printing technology, was brought to life by Monash offshoot Amaero Engineering. Amaero have since been engaged to take their product from the lab into the real world, signing a contract with a global aerospace and defence company.
Not only will these inventions be of great benefit to the Australian economy, but they are testament to the innovative approach of Australian universities, working for a better, cleaner and healthier world.
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Damon is the content editor for Citi’s wealth business.
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