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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.


Photonics Catalyst Program (PCP) Project leads to landmark Photonics R&D and manufacturing collaboration agreement between Trajan Scientific and Medical and IPAS

A research and development and manufacturing hub based on a new generation of specialty glass products for the global science and medical equipment market was announced at the University of Adelaide today.

The hub is part of a new landmark collaboration agreement between Trajan Scientific and Medical (Trajan) and the University of Adelaide, and supported by the State Government.

The strategic collaboration will help Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS) researchers commercialise their research into products that ultimately benefit human health and wellbeing.

Prof Heike Ebendorff-HeidepriemA/Prof Heike Ebendorff-Heidepriem, IPAS Deputy Director will be leading the collaboration with Trajan including the development of a range of specialty glasses and fibres to be used in the medical industry.

“Trajan’s skills in manufacturing – including processes and systems, quality control, and logistics – combined with our research expertise and facilities will enable transition of research outputs from the University and its partners into commercial manufacturing,” says Professor Mike Brooks, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research).

“This exciting collaboration will also open up new opportunities for research and accelerate the development of a significant cluster of photonics companies in South Australia. To be able to ensure our work is applied to real-world situations is a hugely exciting outcome and it will cement our position as a global leader in light, glass and optical fibre research.”
The products have the potential to be utilised in a wide range of medical and scientific applications including genetic testing, biomarker discovery and detection, environmental analysis, food safety testing, and testing for drugs of abuse and therapeutic drug monitoring.

“Trajan’s global operations and customer base, partnered with the international standing IPAS enjoys as a centre of excellence in photonics and specialty glass technologies, means this collaboration will provide an incredible global platform to promote South Australia,” says Stephen Tomisich, Chief Executive Officer of Trajan.

“Trajan believes it is essential to grow an IP-based Australian industry, and aims to lead the way in partnering with Australian academia and government to realise this.”

Minister for Health Jack Snelling said the State Government was pleased to support this partnership and had provided $346,000 in funding to help set up the new facility.

“Health Industries SA and the Department of State Development have played an important role in supporting the University of Adelaide and Trajan in identifying wider opportunities for the company to grow their presence in South Australia,” Mr Snelling said.

“This is a great example of an interstate company recognising the leading research underway in South Australia and setting up premises to tap into that capability and drive greater innovation within their business.”

Prof Mike Brooks, Minister Kyam Maher, Prof Andre Luiten

Prof Mike Brooks, Minister Kyam Maher, Prof Andre Luiten

Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation Kyam Maher said photonics is a key enabling technology that manufacturers are being encouraged to adopt to improve competitiveness via the State Government’s Manufacturing Works Strategy, along with nanotechnology and medical devices.

“Technologies like photonics can enhance a firm’s capacity to innovate in its products, manufacturing processes, capital equipment and engineering systems,” Minister Maher said.

“I’m pleased that Trajan has obviously recognised South Australia’s potential as a global centre of excellence for advanced photonics technologies and I welcome their investment in our state.”

The strategic partnership grew from the Photonics Catalyst Program – a joint initiative between the State Government and IPAS to build connections between SA industry and emerging laser and sensing technologies. Key to the partnership is the presence of the Optofab Node of the Australian National Fabrication Facility at the University.

Trajan’s focus is on developing and commercialising technologies that enable analytical systems to be more selective, sensitive and specific for biological, environmental or food related measurements – especially those that can lead to portability, miniaturisation and affordability.