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Aussies Follow NZ Glow

From the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology

For immediate release


Innovative lighting developed by a Christchurch firm is helping Australian sports fans find their way to and from their venue seats in the dark.

The luminous glow for stair-edges and seat numbers in venues such as stadiums, arenas and theatres is made by Strategic Industries, using advanced materials of the type that light up some children's toys. The project was developed with the support of Technology New Zealand, the Government agency that invests in research into new products, processes or services. The patented "ecoglo" process seals a specially developed photo-luminescent substance on to aluminium for use as stair-nosing - the strip that adds grip and reduces wear on the front edge of stairs - and aisle and seat-numbering. "It's passive illumination - it gets its power from the overhead lights, enabling patrons to enter and leave an event safely after the lights go out," Strategic Industries marketing manager Paul Sapsford says. The venue's lights "charge up" the material for the glow, which has to be still visible after 21/2-3 hours. The company's first customer was the Sydney SuperDome - home of the 2000 Olympics basketball and gymnastics - followed by the Grahame Park rugby league stadium at Gosford, New South Wales. "And now we'll be working on the way-finding system in a new stadium with 52,000 seats being built at Dockland, in Melbourne." Mr Sapsford says ecoglo is "environmentally friendly and does away with electrical lighting of aisles, rows and exits, which is expensive to install and maintain, adding to the cost of building the facility". The idea for adapting what is used in toys for passive venue lighting came from Christchurch fire engineer Hamish MacLennan, of Holmes Fire and Safety, who has experience in getting people into and out of places quickly, and customer requirements. "We built up our knowledge of photo-luminosity, and then we formed up with our R&D partner, LincLab. They developed a way to manufacture the luminescence into the stair-nosing." Technology New Zealand's investment helped the company to develop the appropriate process and prototype equipment required to manufacture the product. "Without it the project would not have proceeded as quickly. It made us feel that someone was on our side." He says the company hopes to market the product in the United States, where two or three big stadiums are built every year, "not to mention the theatres and big entertainment complexes, and then there are the venues for high school games." -ends-


* Paul Sapsford, Strategic Industries, Level 1, 66 Mandeville St, Riccarton, Christchurch 8004. Ph: (03) 348-3795. Fax (03) 343-6821. Email:

* Tony Hadfield, Technology New Zealand (Christchurch office) at the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, (03) 377-9340 or 025 454 095. Website:

Prepared on behalf of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology by ID Communications. Contact: Ian Carson (04) 477-2525,

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