Top inventor award

Coffs Harbour TAFE teacher, Dr Paul Brockwell, is one of 21 finalists in the 2008 INNOVIC Next Big Thing Award™.

This annual nation-wide competition aims to find and showcase exciting new Australian products with the potential to become the ‘next big thing’. Winners receive over $50,000 in cash and prizes.

Dr Brockwell, and fellow innovator Dr Robert Holland, have developed a unique plastic sensor which is capable of determining everything from the freshness of food to how many kilojoules a person has burned during exercise.

“Our Intelligent Plastic Sensors are accurate, low cost ‘smart labels’ which enable manufacturers to provide easy-to-read quality assurance,” Dr Brockwell says. “It shows, by colour change or appearing/disappearing text, how fresh a product is, how much freshness has been lost, and how much freshness remains.”

Dr Brockwell said the product could be useful for a large variety of industries including:

• Food and hospitality — Freshness monitoring for food and beverages;

• Medical — monitoring freshness of products such as vaccines, blood, pharmaceuticals;

• Health and fitness — monitoring human and animal physiology such as heart rates and metabolism;

• Environmental — monitoring air and water quality as well as pollution;

• Industry —- monitoring the concentration of sanitisers such as pool chlorination and hospital hygiene;

• Agriculture — monitoring soil quality, plant nutrition and fermentation processing.

He has already begun work with leading avocado producers to develop “ripeness stickers” as well as a leading international blood company which has asked him to develop a product which will meter the lifespan of red blood cells and blood platelets.

He is now seeking support from investors and other industries for his research.

Dr Brockwell’s innovation, along with those of the other 20 finalist, will be on display at an exhibition to be held at the Melbourne Museum between May 14 and June 22.

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