Each year Newcastle Innovation recognises researchers who have made a significant contribution to the success of the business and who have championed innovation with our business and community partners.

Our annual awards function gives us the opportunity to thank our supporters and celebrate the innovation that makes the Hunter region a true leader across a range of fields of expertise.

Two categories of awards are presented each year – the Excellence in Innovation awards and the Leonard Award for Innovation

The Excellence in Innovation awards recognise University of Newcastle researchers who are true experts in their field and demonstrate a major focus on transferring their expertise into practical solutions for industry and the community.

Named after our long-standing former chairman Dr Geoff Leonard AM, The Leonard Award for Innovation recognises those who have worked tirelessly to actively support the development and achievements of our region.


Four University of Newcastle (UON) and one Hunter-based champion of innovation have been acknowledged in this year’s Excellence in Innovation Awards, presented by Newcastle Innovation.

The Excellence in Innovation Awards recognise University of Newcastle researchers who are true experts in their field, and demonstrate a major focus on transferring their expertise into practical solutions for industry, business and the community.

In addition, the Leonard Award for Innovation recognises and acknowledges those in our region who are active supporters of the quest for innovation.

The 2015 Excellence in Innovation Awards were presented to:

Professor Philip Morgan for his groundbreaking research program focused on the impact of school and community-based interventions to prevent or treat obesity in child, adolescent and adult populations. His work in teaching, research and the community has been recognised with national and international awards including 10 university teaching awards and five national and international awards.

Professor Paulette Van Vliet has collaborated internationally to develop the world’s first wearable device designed to improve the arm function of people living with stroke. A multidisciplinary project the development of the Arm Movement Measure device – or ARMM – has pushed scientific boundaries and involves academic colleagues in health sciences, electrical engineering and mathematics as well as commercial innovation advisers and PhD students.

Dr Kathryn Skelding‘s research interests focus on understanding cancer cell biology, specifically how cancer cells proliferate, spread and develop resistance to chemotherapy drugs. Since completing her post-doctoral studies, she has established her own research group that focuses on better understanding cell signaling in cancer, with a view to developing new therapies that are cancer cell specific and suitable for the treatment of a range of cancers.

Dr Kalpit Shah‘s research and career interests cover fundamental and applied research in the area of advanced thermo-chemical conversion of solid, liquid and gaseous fuels. His research is supported by a range of novel and conventional experimental and modeling techniques, and he has carried out many in-depth techno-economic assessments for power generators and government and private funding agencies around the world.

The 2015 Leonard Award for Innovation was presented to Mr Larry Platt, the founder and executive chair of The Advitech Group – a locally-based collection of integrated science, engineering, technology and environmental companies. Advitech was founded in 1987 as a seven-person consulting business based in the Hunter region to a multi-faceted organisation with an increasing geographical spread across New South Wales and Queensland.

Newcastle Innovation Director Chris Kelleher said the UON has a strong and vibrant research culture that has matured during its 50 year history to be a truly global leader in innovation.

“Over its 46 year history, Newcastle Innovation has been the conduit linking Newcastle’s research expertise to industry; securing the partnerships and investment required to commercialise research from across University,” Chris said.

“As a result, many significant, innovative research programs have made a local, national and global impact through commercialisation support from Newcastle Innovation.”

Five University of Newcastle (UON) researchers, one Hunter business leader and Newcastle Innovation’s company secretary have been recognised for their achievements in translating knowledge, research and technological advancement into commercial success at the 2014 Newcastle Innovation Awards.

Excellence in Innovation awards will recognise UON researchers who are world-leaders in their field and demonstrate a commitment to transferring their expertise into practical solutions for industry and the community.

The 2014 winners are:

  • Laureate Emeritus Professor Graham Goodwin – esteemed electrical engineer who leads an multi-disciplinary team at the global forefront of developing optimisation and signal processing techniques that improve the performance of industrial processes.
  • Professor Manohar Garg – nutritional biochemist and world-recognised authority on fatty acid nutrition and the benefits of bioactive nutrients who has fostered strategic alliances with industry to develop functional foods.
  • Associate Professor Lisa Wood – nutritional biochemist specialising in nutritional approaches to managing respiratory disease whose pioneering work has identified that dietary factors can modulate inflammation in the respiratory tract, a potential new way to treat the disease.
  • Professor Erich Kisi – highly cited materials scientist responsible for conducting the only neutron diffraction experiments in the world on combustion synthesis. His group has recently patented a new class of thermal storage materials with potential applications in solar-thermal electricity generation and industrial waste heat recovery.
  • Professor Nick Talley – an international authority in gastroenterology who has achieved a number of world-first achievements in research and critical breakthroughs in relation to bowel disease.

The Leonard Award for Innovation – named after Newcastle Innovation’s long-serving former Chair Dr Geoff Leonard AM – is presented to a champion of innovation in the Hunter who has shown a long term commitment to growing the region’s economy and creating a culture of entrepreneurship.

The 2014 award winner is Dr Eileen Doyle – Principal Consultant, Business Strategy at Doyle Partners, Chair of the Hunter Research Foundation and a long time business angel who has worked tirelessly with inventors and small business to introduce and grow their products.

David Fleming, Newcastle Innovation’s Senior Business Development Manager and Company Secretary, was also awarded an Excellence in Innovation Award for his unswerving commitment to technology transfer and support of research at the UON.

The awards were presented at Fort Scratchley Multipurpose Centre on Friday 24 October.

Five University of Newcastle (UON) researchers and one Hunter innovation champion have been honoured for their achievements in translating knowledge, research and technology into commercial success at the 2013 Newcastle Innovations awards.

Excellence in Innovation awards recognise UON researchers who are world-leaders in their field and demonstrate a focus on transferring their expertise into practical solutions for industry and the community.

Looking externally, the efforts and achievements of one Hunter region champion of innovation will be recognised with the inaugural Leonard award for Innovation.

“These awards demonstrate the incredible work of UON researchers and the value of linking their talent and expertise to industry,” said Chris Kelleher, acting CEO of Newcastle Innovation.

“Congratulations to all winners and I thank them for their contributions in making the Hunter and Central Coast regions truly innovative.”

The 2013 winners comprise:

Professor Phil Hansbro has won an Excellence in Innovation award for his contributions to the fields of respiratory disease, allergy and immunology. His work attracts considerable commercial interest, grants and industry contracts.

Professor Carolyn Mountford has won an Excellence in Innovation award for her work in Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRS), which plays a significant role in detecting early stage cancer using non-invasive methods.

Dr Anton Kriz has won an Excellence in Innovation award for his work as a key influencer of innovation in business and the driver of projects around regional innovation systems, innovation champions, open innovation alliances and cluster development.

Professor Mark Jones has won an Excellence in Innovation award for his role as leader of the globally successful Newcastle Innovation division, TUNRA Bulks Solids (TBS). TBS maintains a strong reputation in industry for world-class research in all aspects of bulk solids handling.

Professor Natashia Boland has won an Excellence in Innovation award for her solutions to logistical challenges and optimisation issues, which have secured her a number of ARC Linkage Grants and industry contracts.

Neville Sawyer AM has won the inaugural Leonard Award for Innovation for his work with the Hunter Founders Forum and leadership of the Hunter Innovation Festival. He has established key enablers to support innovation for the region’s researchers, businesses and investors.

The Innovation awards were held at Fort Scratchley on Thursday 24 October.

The groundbreaking discoveries and expertise of a chemist, nutritionist, economist, biomedical scientist and an engineer have been celebrated at a gala event on Friday 9 November marking the 2012 Newcastle Innovation Excellence in Innovation and Rising Star awards.

Three Excellence in Innovation awards were  presented in recognition of long-standing research careers that have had a major focus on transferring expertise into practical solutions for industry and the community.

The frontier discoveries of early career researchers were also acknowledged through the presentation of two Rising Star awards.

“These awards are testament to the talent and hard work of researchers at the University, and the importance of linking expertise to industry as we commercialise the innovative technology developed within the institution,” said Dr Brent Jenkins, CEO of Newcastle Innovation.

Newcastle Innovation proudly announces the following winners for 2012:

Professor Adam McCluskey has won an Excellence in Innovation award for his leading efforts in the scientific discipline of kinomics and work in novel drug design. Professor McCluskey is also a prolific inventor with strong industry interactions via contract research and consulting.

Professor Clare Collins has won an Excellence in Innovation award for her work in the field of nutrition and dietetics, and her focus on optimising food intake by helping people make healthy food choices. Professor Collins is also one of only seven professionals appointed a Fellow of the Dieticians Association of Australia.

Professor Scott Holmes has won an Excellence in Innovation award for translating his expertise in business management and health economics into an active portfolio of industry and government consultancies. Professor Holmes is known as one of Australia’s most respected strategic thinkers in business and economic investment and reform.

Dr Nikki Verrills has won a Rising Star award for her successful career at the cutting edge of blood cancer research. Dr Verrills’ has discovered novel protein alterations that confer chemotherapy resistance in childhood leukaemia and is contributing to new approaches to the treatment of blood cancers.

Dr Andrew Fleming has won a Rising Star award for his extensive contributions to the dynamics, control and analysis of scanning probe systems. Dr Fleming is recognised for his contribution to nano-positioning systems and his track record of technology transfer and academic outputs.

Congratulations to all recipients.

Asthma, minerals processing, reproductive science, frogs and schizophrenia were in the spotlight as Newcastle Innovation celebrated ground-breaking achievements at the annual Excellence in Innovation and Rising Star Awards.

Each year, the Newcastle Innovation Board recognises three prolific University of Newcastle researchers with extensive track records of commercialising their expertise and two emerging researchers who are developing strong commercial ties.

Newcastle Innovation is proud to present the following awards in 2011:

Professor Paul Foster has won an Excellence in Innovation award for his leadership within the University’s world class Centre for Asthma and Respiratory Disease. His work focuses on understanding the key cellular and molecular processes that underlie the development of allergic disease and viral induced pulmonary inflammation.

Professor Kevin Galvin has won an Excellence in Innovation award for his extensive record of commercial success with inventions for the minerals processing industry. His most notable invention, the Reflux Classifier, is used world wide and is backed by commercial partner Ludowici.

Laureate Professor John Aitken has won an Excellence in Innovation award for his expertise in cell biology and biotechnology and its application in reproductive science. He is the inventor of a device called the SpermSep CS10 which uses an electrical field to separate normal and damaged sperm, helping to improve pregnancy rates through assisted reproductive technology.

Dr Michelle Stockwell has won a Rising Star award for her work in frog conservation, specifically the endangered green and golden bell frogs. She currently leads a project funded by BHP-Billiton to study the frogs’ introduction and management in the Hunter region.

Dr Murray Cairns has won a Rising Star award for work on the identification and development of new drug targets and diagnostic applications to tackle one of the most debilitating of psychiatric illnesses – schizophrenia. His discoveries are being actively commercialised via Newcastle Innovation.

Congratulations to all winners.

The dynamic and life-changing inventions of five Hunter researchers have been recognised at the 2010 Newcastle Innovation Awards.

With two inventions and their inventors named finalists in the 2010 New Inventors program, screened on ABC television, the Newcastle Innovation Excellence in Innovation and Rising Star awards will further shine the spotlight on the revolutionary research being undertaken in the Hunter.

The Excellence in Innovation award recognises some of the top innovators at the University of Newcastle. The Rising Star award acknowledges the innovations of early career researchers.

The award winners comprise:

Professor Paul Dastoor has won an Excellence in Innovation award for developing organic and water-based solar cells that can be used to develop a photovoltaic paint. The project was a finalist on the New Inventors.

Professor Behdad Moghtaderi will be awarded an Excellence in Innovation award for his GRANEX technology platform that  is set to revolutionise the way we use geothermal energy in Australia. GRANEX was one of five finalists on the New Inventors program.

Professor Roger Smith will be awarded an Excellence in Innovation award for the computer program he has developed that measures the hormones in the blood of a pregnant woman to better predict the onset of labour.

Dr Frances Kay-Lambkin has won a Rising Star award for developing a computer-based program to treat patients with depression and co-morbid factors such as alcohol and substance abuse.

Dr Craig Wheeler has won a Rising Star award for his work that is redesigning conveyor belts to minimise their power consumption and improve their durability.

The awards are given by Newcastle Innovation, the commercial arm of the University that matches the intellectual capital of the University’s researchers with the commercial needs of industry and business partners.

“It is wonderful to see the hard work and research conducted at the University applied to viable products that benefit industries, businesses and everyday people,” said Dr Brent Jenkins, CEO of Newcastle Innovation.

Newcastle Innovation celebrated its 40th Anniversary at a formal dinner held at the Newcastle Club on the 9th October 2009.

Five prominent researchers from the University were awarded Excellence in Innovation Awards in recognition of world class innovation and their contribution to Newcastle Innovation’s success over the past 40 years.

Two early career researchers were also presented with a Rising Star award in recognition of outstanding early career achievements in research and innovation.

Excellence in Innovation Award Winners

Laureate Professor Graeme Jameson AO

Laureate Professor Graeme Jameson invented the Jameson Cell in 1985, a high intensity, high efficiency flotation device that overcomes deficiencies in column flotation. At present, there are over 250 cells in operation around the world, in 20 countries, recovering millions of tonnes of coal each year.

During his career, Professor Jameson has been responsible for over 200 publications and has been named as the inventor on 54 patents, the most significant being the Jameson Cell. Since the Jameson Cell, Professor Jameson has moved on to tackle other more difficult areas of flotation. He has developed a new device called the ‘Concord Cell’ for the flotation of previously elusive ultrafine particles and is researching new flotation technologies to liberate larger particles.

Professor Jameson’s work has been recognised by many awards and election to a number of learned academies. He also received an Order of Australia award in 2005.

Emeritus Professor Alan Roberts AM

Emeritus Professor Alan Roberts AM is the Foundation Director of TUNRA Bulk Solids the bulk materials handling and transport research and consulting group.

Since its establishment in 1975, the group has completed over 2000 projects for approximately 1000 companies in Australia and in 40 countries overseas. The group is averaging 160 industrial projects per year.

Professor Roberts’ research and consulting in the field of bulk solids handling spans a period of 50 years and he is a recognised world leader in this research field. He has published 5 design manuals and over 350 research papers and he regularly presents plenary and keynote papers at major international conferences.  He has also received numerous awards including an Order of Australia award in 1990 for his contribution to education.

Associate Professor Darren Shafren

Associate Professor Shafren has over 20 year’s experience in basic and molecular virology. Dr. Shafren is the founding inventor of the oncolytic virus technology which, ASX listed company Viralytics acquired in 2006. The technology relates to coxsackievirus strains which have the ability to bind and lyse melanoma, breast and prostate cancer cells. He is currently the Chief Scientific Officer for Viralytics.

Associate Professor Shafren is a member of the HMRI Viruses, Infections/Immunity, Vaccines & Asthma (VIVA) Research Program. His research has received significant support from the Greater Building Society through HMRI.

Professor John Forbes

Professor Forbes was curious about “cancer” from his school days and has been involved in breast cancer research throughout his professional career. His main focus has been national and international clinical trials to develop new treatments for all types of breast cancer and ultimately for the prevention of breast cancer.

He is Professor of Surgical Oncology at the University of Newcastle, NSW; Director of the Department of Surgical Oncology at the Calvary Mater Newcastle Hospital; and Director of Research of the Australian New Zealand Breast Cancer Trials Group (ANZBCTG).

In 1988 he was instrumental in the establishment of the breast cancer screening program in the Hunter. This initiative received great community support for the launching of the first mobile breast screening unit in Australia and the building of the NBN Telethon Mater Institute building.

Emeritus Professor Robert Clancy AM

Professor Clancy is a pioneer in the field of mucosal immunology and in the biotechnology industry in Australia. He is the author of many therapeutics.

He first worked at McMaster University in Canada as an Assistant Professor developing Clinical Immunology describing communication between mucosal surfaces. He then returned to Australia as the first Clinical Immunologist at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. Here he began work on defining ‘rules’ in man for oral immunotherapy to modulate inflammatory response at distant mucosal sites.

Professor Robert Clancy  was the Foundation Chair of Pathology Newcastle Medical School and his early work at Newcastle led to the development of the vaccine Broncostat which reduces attacks of acute bronchitis to 90%. Since that time he has continued to develop treatments for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). He was awarded a Member in the Order of Australia in 2005.

Rising Star Award Winners

Dr Tristan Perez

Tristan Perez’s area of research is in Control System Design. He is a world leading researcher in Marine Cybernetics, which is a discipline that combines marine technology with control engineering and computer science.

Tristan developed an adaptive ride control system for the vessels operated by Australian Custom Services, which reduces wave induced motion and improves the vessel and crew performance. The Australian Research Council has highlighted this work as part of the ARC outcomes in the real world during the past 20 years.

The work has also won an award from the Institute of Engineers Australia for the partner company that implemented and commissioned the system.

Dr Elham Doroodchi

The underlying theme of Dr Doroodchi’s research is the mechanics of particle laden flows with an emphasis on the application areas in mineral processing and advanced energy systems. The main focus of her research is developing technology platforms that are energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

Dr Doroodci received a prestigious postdoctoral fellowship from the University of Newcastle in 2007 and currently holds a Senior Research Fellow position in the Priority Research Centre for Advanced Particle Processing & Transport.