ATSE Statement

Australian innovators lead the way with Global Connections

2 August 2023

Many challenges with possible technological and scientific solutions are experienced in international communities, not just local ones. From techniques for treating wastewater to producing topical creams to decrease the healing time of wounds, solution development can be enhanced through international and industry-research collaboration. 

The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering (ATSE) is pleased to announce four new research-industry collaborative projects funded through the Australian Government’s Global Connections Fund – Bridging Grants program.  

The Global Connections Fund provides initial funding to promote international collaboration between researchers and small to medium enterprises (SMEs), with the aim of fostering lasting research-industry partnerships. These grants are awarded to projects in line with the National Manufacturing priorities; critical minerals processing and resources technology, food and beverage, recycling and clean energy, and medical products.  

ATSE CEO, Kylie Walker, said “By increasing links between Australia’s STEM leaders and global partners, we have a unique opportunity to unlock access to international networks that can boost our sovereign capabilities, grow our economy and build our international science and technology reputation.” 

It is exciting to facilitate these new connection opportunities, especially after a period of international disconnect stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

Grant recipient, ATSE Fellow, Dr Tony Peacock FTSE is working to identify the effectiveness of a topical treatment for Shingles (Solexan) as a treatment for a bacterial infection called Buruli Ulcer – a rare bacterial infection that affects skin and soft tissue. Without early treatment, it can lead to long-term disability. As Chairman of Wintermute Biomedical Pty Ltd, Dr Peacock will collaborate with John’s Hopkins University to test Solexan on a strain of the Buruli Ulcer bacteria. 

Another grantee is Associate Professor Duy Ngo, whose research has contributed to the commercial sectors’ adoption of 5G and more. He will lend his skills to collaborate on a solution for quality control of dragon fruit during transit from Vietnam to China. The project, in collaboration with Think Alpha Co (a Vietnamese SME), will aim to reduce the amount of dragon fruit that is spoiled in transit. 

These are just two of the successful applicants who demonstrated the excellent potential of their projects and a strong commitment to advancing knowledge and capability in their respective fields. Their projects stood out for their innovation, potential impact, and alignment to national priorities.  

“ATSE is committed to creating opportunities for industry and researchers to collaborate on innovative technologies, science problems and solutions. These collaborations are vital for Australia’s industrial and business productivity, and it is important that we do what we can to help strengthen these international relationships.” 

“Investment in building international STEM relationships is critical for the future of STEM innovations. Bringing together diverse perspectives invites solution development for national manufacturing priority areas that we cannot achieve by ourselves.” said ATSE CEO, Kylie Walker.The assessment process was undertaken by a panel of ATSE Fellows, who were engaged for their subject matter expertise, involvement in international collaborations, and notable experience in successful research – industry partnerships. 


A Smart System for Monitoring and Quality Control of Dragon Fruit in Vietnam's Cold Freight Trucks

Associate Professor Duy Ngo - School of Engineering, The University of Newcastle

International Partner: Think Alpha Co (Vietnam) 

National Manufacturing Priority: Food & beverage  

Project objective: To reduce the amount of dragon fruit spoiled in transit due to Vietnam’s climatic conditions and long road freight distances to export markets in China. The proposal aims to develop an on-board automated system for monitoring and quality control of dragon fruit in cold freight trucks.  

Wound Care Gel promoting Vascularisation and Pain Relief

Iain Ralph - Executive Director, Cannenta Pty Ltd

International Partners:

The University of Sheffield (UK) lead by Professor Serena Cussen – Head of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering;

and COMSATS University (Pakistan) 

National Manufacturing Priority: Medical products 

Project objective: To develop a proof-of-concept topical gel incorporating the applicants’ technology for accelerating healing, in conjunction with a fast-acting analgesic for effective pain relief.   

Recycling galvanised Zinc ash into high-value additives to treat wastewater

Professor Ivan Cole - School of Engineering, RMIT

International Partner: Deep Construction (India) 

National Manufacturing Priority: Recycling & clean energy 

Project objective: Conversion of galvanised zinc waste into high-value ZnO to treat wastewater. Technical improvement in the recycling techniques will be explored to make functional ZnO from zinc ash as an antibacterial absorbent and photocatalyst to treat various pollutants in wastewater   

Feasibility study for Buruli ulcer topical treatment

Dr Tony Peacock - Wintermute Biomedical Pty Ltd

International Partner: John’s Hopkins University (USA) 

National Manufacturing Priority: Medical products

Project objective: Wintermute Biomedical is developing a product called Solexan, which is a topical treatment for shingles. They want to test if Solexan can also be effective against a bacterial infection called Buruli ulcer. They will test Solexan’s activity against an auto luminescent strain of the bacteria.   

About Global Connections Fund – Bridging Grants 

The Global Connections Fund — Bridging Grants provides funding for early-stage proof of concept and knowledge transfer, product and services development and market testing, innovation and commercialisation activities.  

The grants support international SME-Researcher partnerships to grow beyond an initial level of engagement into a strong collaboration which leads to the translation of research knowledge and intellectual property into market ready products or services.  

The Bridging Grants provide between AUD 25,000 to AUD 50,000 per grant as seed funding capital to enable viable projects to grow in scope and scale, to test commercialisation and proof of concept activities. They are highly competitive and are additionally supported on a matching funds/in-kind basis of additional resources from the applicant partners. 

Project proposals to the Global Connections Fund – Bridging Grants program are required to address one of the following areas from the National Manufacturing Priorities: 

  • Resources Technology & Critical Minerals Processing 
  • Food & Beverage 
  • Medical Products 
  • Recycling & Clean Energy. 

Each project was required to be a partnership between an SME and a research institution or organisation.  

The Global Connections Fund program is funded by the Department of Industry, Science and Resources (DISR) and delivered by the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. 

About ATSE: 

The Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering is a Learned Academy of independent experts helping Australians understand and use technology to solve complex problems.