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MBIE funds UC researchers’ ideas for over $3 million

MBIE funds UC researchers’ ideas for over $3 million

Three University of Canterbury (UC) science research innovations are among the successful proposals that will receive funding worth more than $3 million through MBIE's 2015 Science Investment Round.

The Smart Idea project from Simone Dimartino received Phase 2 funding following a successful Phase 1, and Daniel Holland and Catherine Bishop were both successful with Targeted Research proposals in the High Value Manufacturing and Services portfolio.

UC Chemical & Process Engineering (CAPE) researcher Simone Dimartino said of his project, 3D printed adsorptive media, “This really recognises the potential of our idea and the quality of the research outputs the team has generated so far. Many partners and collaborators - more than 30 people - have worked hard on the project, involved in both research and commercialisation. Most importantly, the renewed funding indicates the quality of the idea and the clear potential there is for commercialisation.

Dimartino said of the project: “In our Smart Ideas Phase 1, we demonstrated that we can use 3D printing methods to create perfectly ordered structures with feature sizes smaller than a millimetre. While this is already an important achievement, we want to extend these results to increase the resolution to the order of a few micrometers.

“We’re also looking at new materials for 3D printing. While most current 3D printers use plastic-based materials, we’ll be printing biological and sustainable materials. We expect our research to have important applications in a range of industries, including bioseparations, pharmaceuticals, biosensors, catalysis and filtration, as well as in tissue scaffolding for regenerative medicine.

UC Chemical & Process Engineering (CAPE) researcher Daniel Holland said of his research projectQuantitative Benchtop NMR using Bayesian Analysis, “Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) is one of the most widely used analytical techniques in chemistry. However, traditionally in order to get the sensitivity, you need to use superconducting magnets that cost upwards of $1 million.

“What we are doing is developing a new mathematical approach for the data analysis that will make cheap, portable instruments as sensitive as current superconducting instruments,” Holland said. “The neat thing is that this approach will also be applicable to superconducting magnets and so will improve the sensitivity of the next generation of those as well.”

The third successful proposal, Race to the Finish: Processing and Properties Optimization of self-cleaning, antimicrobial ceramic coatings for buttons, knobs, handles and rails in hospitals, came from the Advanced Energy and Material Systems Lab (AEMSLab) - a multidisciplinary research group led by UC’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. The successful project is led by Catherine Bishop in Materials Science and Susan Krumdieck in Process Engineering, but also includes a wider group including Chemical and Process Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Chemistry researchers.

The work will be carried out in cooperation with Koti Technologies, and also involves collaborators at Callaghan Innovations, GNS Science and several labs in the UK, Switzerland, Germany and France.Bishop is currently on sabbatical in the United States.

Krumdieck said, “The group is extremely excited to have been successful in gaining funding. There is an urgent need for this protection from hospital acquired infections, and this investment in science and engineering research will allow Koti to get into the market at a critical time.”

MBIE received 157 full proposals through the submission process. The successful proposals were selected by the Science Board following robust review by independent experts. The new research contracts will start on 1 October 2015, for periods of two, three and four years.

The results of the 2015 contestable round saw UC awarded three of the 48 grants in a field that included seven other universities, seven CRIs, various consulting firms and other entities.

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