Cancer research and earthquake-proof technologies took top honours in the 2012 UTS/UniQuest Trailblazer competition held at UTS last week.
Science PhD student Samantha Khoury won the student category and the pitching excellence prize with her work on developing a personalised prognostic tool for people living with oral cancer which assists doctors and patients in choosing the most appropriate therapy, one-upping her team's previous success as the 2011 runner-up.
Professor Attila Brungs, Associate Professor Jianchun Li, Dr Yancheng Li, Professor Bijan Samali and UniQuest Manager of Innovation and Commercial Development Martin Lloyd. Picture by Joanne Saad
Associate Professor Jianchun Li and his team from the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering took first prize in the staff category for their smart seismic base isolator, which uses novel engineering practices to protect people and infrastructure from earthquakes.
"The standard of applications for Trailblazer is increasing every year, which is a real indicator to me that awareness of the importance of innovation and commercialisation is continuing to rise across UTS," said Professor Attila Brungs, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research), who presented the awards.
"There was a real diversity in the topics that finalists chose to present which reflects the breadth and depth of research expertise we have here at UTS."
Leonard Marquart and his team won the runner-up prize in the student category for a project to increase the defence mechanisms of the common bee against disease caused by the Varroa mite, while Dr Kristine McGrath and team took second place in the staff category for their novel dietary supplement with anti-inflammatory properties.
The competition brought competitors face-to-face with a panel of commercialisation experts, including Mark Horsburgh from patent attorney firm Fisher Adams Kelly; Gavin Recchia from patent and trademark attorney firm Davies Collison Cave; and Su-Ming Wong from private equity group Champ Ventures, who judged on how well the finalists marketed their innovative ideas.
The winners and runners up will now head off to a grand final showdown in Brisbane on Tuesday 4 September, where they will compete with the winners from the University of Tasmania, University of Queensland and James Cook University competitions.
"We've got a great history with the Trailblazer Grand Final," Professor Brungs said.
"UTS researcher Dr Andrew Hutchinson won the open category last year, while Samuel Brennan and Samantha Khoury took out the runner-up prize in the student category.
"I wish all our competitors the best of luck this year."
The 2012 Trailblazer competition was sponsored by patent attorney firms Davies Collison Cave and Fisher Adams Kelly; Travel sponsor, Campus Travel; Pitching Skills sponsor, Corporate training company NRG Solutions; Incentive sponsor, Patent and trade mark attorneys and IP lawyers Griffith Hack; and Webcast sponsor, Redback Conferencing.