IPAS at the Forefront of Parliament

The following is taken from the Legislative Council proceedings Thur 14 April 2016

Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (15:19): My question is to the Minister for Science and Information Economy. Can the minister update the chamber on the recent success of the state government’s Photonics Catalyst Program in the medical devices industry?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Employment, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation, Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation, Minister for Automotive Transformation, Minister for Science and Information Economy) (15:19): I can. I thank the honourable member for her question and her interest in areas concerning science and information economy.

I have mentioned before some of the work that is being done in the photonics area in South Australia in the South Australian government’s Photonics Catalyst Program which is connecting South Australian manufacturers with emerging laser and sensor technologies which are being developed at the University of Adelaide’s world-renowned Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing. As I have spoken about previously, the government has contributed $1 million to the program to support the development of photonics products, such as sensors, lasers and optical fibres, and encourages collaboration between local companies and researchers.

I understand that to date some 14 projects have been accepted into the program, once being considered by a panel of highly skilled professionals including Professor Andre Luiten, Director of the Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing; Professor Tanya Monro, Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation at the University of South Australia; Jane Rathjen, Deputy Director of Adelaide Research Innovation at the University of Adelaide; and others.

SJ Cheesman in Port Pirie, a major engineering and metal fabrication business that is the prime supplier to Nyrstar and other large mining processing industries in Australia, has partnered with IPAS. Through this partnership, SJ Cheesman and IPAS adapted high temperature sensors to be installed into a zinc smelter in order to demonstrate the feasibility of extreme temperature sensing.

This will mean that very high temperatures at a number of points in the smelter process can be measured, reducing work stoppages and optimising production. I am happy to inform the chamber that the most recent joint venture between IPAS and local company, Austofix, has now resulted in the development of an innovative wrist fracture product to be manufactured right here in South Australia.

Austofix is based at Thebarton and was established in 1993 to produce orthopaedic medical devices. I understand the company employs around 12 staff and earns 80 per cent of its revenue from selling its products into the export market. The VRP 2.0 volar radius plate will not only help wrist fractures heal faster but can be fitted more easily by surgeons utilising the product than most of the competitors’ products.

I am advised that the new product’s innovative design includes an improved locking mechanism for the plate and increased variable angle for the screws, which means that surgeons can get a better hold on the wrist bone, leading to faster healing. While variable angle screws are widely available, this is the first plate that allows for screws up to a 40° angle.

The state government has supported the product’s development through providing $30,000 to the project through the Photonics Catalyst Program. This innovative new wrist plate is a great example of collaboration between companies and researchers in our state, especially in the area of advanced manufacturing. It is another critical example of the state’s medical device sector creating new products to emerging markets globally.


Posted on May 11, 2016, in Media and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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