NSW Physical Sciences Fund

Recipients of the inaugural NSW Physical Sciences Fund worth $5 million were announced on Tuesday 10 December by the NSW Minister Planning and Public Spaces Rob Stokes. The Fund administered through the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer seeks to capture potential commercial applications of NSW research across all branches of physical science.

NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte said bringing great ideas to market is a challenge facing universities and small companies.

“In addition to giving financial support, the Physical Sciences Fund provides advice and facilitates collaborations to ensure that each project’s scientific rigour is matched with seasoned entrepreneurial know-how,” Professor Durrant-Whyte said.

The inaugural recipients include a light-weight data gathering drone, a magnetic resonance analyser, architectural surfaces manufactured from recycled materials, agricultural technologies and a device that produces drinking water from atmospheric moisture.Almost 60 applications were received for the fund, with the five winners assessed and selected by an independent expert panel.

Funding recipients

NextOre – Magnetic Resonance Analyser
Employing similar technology to the Magnetic Resonance (MR) Imaging equipment used in healthcare, NextOre’s MR Analysers are fitted to mining equipment and produce real-time, accurate measurements of metal concentration in ore as it travels through the mine. NextOre’s analyser has the potential to greatly improve mining efficiency by being able to quickly and cost-effectively measure ore grade int the mining process. This allows waste to be removed early significantly reducing the amount of energy, water, fuel and chemicals downstream.

NextOre is a joint venture between CSIRO, RFC Ambrian and Advisian Digital formed for the purpose of deploying innovative technologies into the mining and minerals processing sector. Its Magnetic Resonance (MR) ore sorting technology uses mineral sensing that can be used over industry standard conveyor belts, providing near-instantaneous whole-of-ore grade estimates. These highly accurate, real-time measurements allow operations to divert waste material, resulting in higher grade and lower tonnage mill feed. This technology provides measurable efficiency improvements allowing mining companies to take a leap forward in environmental sustainability, site consumption, and unit costs. Read more

SMaRT@UNSW – Recycled Glass Panel Line
The Recycled Glass Panel Line uses micro recycling science to develop viable solutions to reform waste material into value-added products for everyday use. The panel products are made from a variety of waste materials including waste glass, single use coffee cups, used coffee grounds and waste textiles, with many of these materials being diverted from landfill. UNSW Sydney aims to establish SMaRT Glass Panel Microfactory manufacturing facilities to service locally or regionally produced waste material streams, reducing the logistics of transporting recycled materials.

SMaRT@UNSW was founded in 2008 by ARC Laureate Fellow Scientia Professor Veena Sahajwalla. SMaRT works with industry, global research partners, not-for-profits, local, state and federal governments, on the development of innovative environmental solutions for the world’s biggest waste challenges. Uniting researchers from the faculties of Science, Engineering, and the Built Environment, the centre has state-of-the-art furnaces and laboratories as well as sophisticated analytical and processing equipment. Read more

The University of Newcastle – Hydro Harvester
The Hydro Harvester is a simple, low-cost device enabling the production of water from air. Traditional commercial atmospheric water generators use electricity to cool ambient air to below the dew point where water condensates out. Instead, the Hydro Harvester uses the adsorption and desorption of water from silica gel to collect water, greatly decreasing the high operating costs associated with electricity use. As the process occurs independent of ambient temperature and humidity, the Hydro Harvester can be deployed anywhere. With around 780 million people globally currently living under water stressed conditions, the Hydro Harvester has the potential to improve water security for communities across the globe. Read more

Hone – Honelab and AI Platform
The Hone device is a complete platform which attaches to the back of a smartphone, and uses spectroscopy techniques to assess the chemical traits of any solid or liquid. The data captured by the device is transferred to the artificial intelligence (AI) cloud via Hone’s smartphone App and decoded for the quantitative or qualitative variables of interest the user has specified for that sample. The technology can be used throughout the entire winemaking cycle, from analysis of soil nutrients, to the uptake of nutrients by the vine, through to the sugar,tannin and acid levels of the fruit itself and can also be applied from crush to bottling, allowing the winemaker to monitor for the desired chemical balance or to provide early detection of unwanted chemical traits. The technology will allow the winemaker to make key decisions about each and every vintage within seconds.

HoneLab makes it easy to test the chemical properties of soil, crops and grain samples in real time. It’s a chemistry lab that attaches to the back of a smartphone, using AI cloud-based systems and onsite portable hardware to monitor soils, solids and liquids and make instant decisions without having to send samples to a lab. Read more

Carbonix – Domani 25 kg Powered Lift Drone
The Domani 25 kg Powered Lift drone is Australia’s first heavy-lifting, long-range powered- lift ‘small’ fixed wing drone, offering an economical alternative to commercial manned flight operations. Key features never before deployed together on one drone includ e the capability of flying for up to 15 hours, carrying five kilograms in sophisticated sensor payload, flying beyond visual line of sight missions and the ability to take off or land anywhere with powered-lift capabilities. The Domani drone sits within the small drone category, making its operation accessible to the general market, while also having clear applications for both industry and defence. The Domani drone has the potential to replace some manned aircraft operations, enabling more regular data capture at a much lower cost.

Carbonix creates drone technology for use in business, changing the landscape of commercial drones by using advabced composites, refined aerodynamics and custom electronics to carry more weight for longer with vertical take off and landing. Read more

About the Fund

The Physical Sciences Fund is modelled on the highly successful Medical Devices Fund (MDF), which has seen the NSW Government invest more than $50 million in grants to 31 medical technologies since 2013. That program has resulted in these organisations raising over $456 million in further funding, treating over 180,000 patients and increasing their staffing levels four-fold. One funding recipient has already paid its grant back to the MDF earlier this year.

A panel of five distinguished experts with skills, experience and expertise in science and engineering, devices and systems commercialisation, venture capital, financial management and consumer advocacy was appointed to selected the first round of recipients chaired by Professor Annabelle Duncan, Vice-Chancellor and CEO of the University of New England.

Learn more about the NSW Physical Sciences Fund