The Australian Innovation Challenge Awards 2012 - $70,000 in cash prizes

The Australian Innovation Challenge offers $70,000 in cash prizes for innovations in seven professional categories and an eighth category – Backyard Innovation – open to the general public for inventions at an advanced stage of development.

Any individual or team can enter provided their innovation, project or invention is ‘driven from Australia’. Innovations for the public good as well as those with commercial potential will be considered.

There is a $5,000 cash prize for the winning entry in each professional category, $10,000 for the Backyard Innovation category and a further $25,000 for the overall winner. The seven professional categories are health, minerals and energy, ICT, education, manufacturing and hi-tech design, community services, and environment, agriculture and food.

All entries will be judged by four equally-weighted criteria,

  1. Scientific or technical excellence and novelty
  2. Nature and extent of potential benefits and national or international impact
  3. Sustainability and lack of negative environmental impact
  4. Adoption and/or commercialisation plan, including explicit ‘go to market’ strategy or plans for securing public adoption

Professor Mark Kendall of the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology and his team won the overall prize in 2011 with their innovative stamp-sized Nanopatch™ for delivering vaccines. Not only would it eliminate the dreaded needle, Nanopatch™ is cheaper to produce than the needle-and-syringe delivery method and does not need to be refrigerated. The technology has been backed by Australian and US venture capital firms and clinical trials are expected to start by 2015.

The challenge rules state that entries must have freedom to operate, and suggest that potential entrants seek legal advice prior to entering as all submitted details may become public knowledge.  We recommend that legal advice is sought prior to entering.  Public disclosure of intellectual property (IP) can limit the options available for protecting it and in many cases steps must be taken to protect the IP prior to disclosure.  Public disclosure of an invention prior to filing a patent application can invalidate the application. 

Entries close 12 August 2012. Further detail and the online entry form can be found at www.theaustralian.com.au/innovationchallenge.

This article was written in conjunction with Heather Wawryniuk.