Congratulations to our winners!

ATSE Awards 2020

Celebrating innovation and excellence

Each year, we recognise leading lights who are making extraordinary contributions to technological science and engineering in Australia.

The winners of the ATSE Awards 2020 were announced at an online event on 30 July 2020.

Thank you to our MC Professor Emma Johnston AO FTSE (Dean of Science UNSW) and guest presenters Dr Sarah Pearce (Deputy Director of Astronomy and Space Science, CSIRO) and Dr Mitra Safavi-Naeini (Senior Physicist and Research Lead, Human Health, ANSTO). Our CEO Kylie Walker and President Professor Hugh Bradlow FTSE also co-hosted the awards. Many thanks to our sponsors who made this event possible.

2020 winners

ABOVE: Click to watch the entire 38 minute presentation. Thank you to our MC Professor Emma Johnston AO FTSE (Dean of Science UNSW) and guest presenters Dr Sarah Pearce (Deputy Director of Astronomy and Space Science, CSIRO) and Dr Mitra Safavi-Naeini (Senior Physicist and Research Lead, Human Health, ANSTO). Our CEO Kylie Walker and President Professor Hugh Bradlow FTSE also co-hosted the awards.

Clunies Ross Entrepreneur of the Year:
Mr Mark Sullivan

Mark Sullivan, Managing Director and Founder of Medicines Development for Gobal Health

Mark Sullivan is Founder and Managing Director of Medicines Development for Global Health, a biopharmaceutical company developing medicines based on need, not profit.

Mark recognised the importance of Moxidectin – an intestinal worm treatment for domesticated animals – for treating neglected infectious diseases in humans. Mark found funding, re-established manufacturing, and won approval for human use.


This year, additional human trials with more than 13,500 people will commence to demonstrate Moxidectin’s importance and win approval to use the drug to treat and eliminate onchocerciasis, or river blindness – the second most common cause of blindness due to infection.

The Clunies Ross Entrepreneur of the Year Award recognises an individual who has played an integral role in the discovery and translation of a major technology-based product or service that has led to financial success and demonstrated impact for Australia, and in which they have personally had a significant input in the inventorship and/or development of the technology.

Clunies Ross Award for Innovation:
Dr Alison Todd and Dr Elisa Mokany

SpeeDX Corporate Portraits retouched.

Doctors Alison Todd and Elisa Mokany are dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship and innovation in Australia.

Together, Dr Todd and Dr Mokany created a new molecular ‘lego’ that is opening the door to personalised clinical diagnostics.

They’ve founded a successful company – SpeeDx – to roll out the technology which helps doctors choose personally targeted treatments.

They combine a profound, deep knowledge of molecular DNA and RNA-based detection – with flair and entrepreneurship, to develop their own inventions into fully-fledged products made in Australia and sold nationally and around the world.

Their products are fundamentally changing the way in which doctors work and patients heal.

The Clunies Ross Innovation Award recognises an individual or small team responsible for the discovery, development and adoption of a technology that has significantly improved societal or industry capabilities.

Clunies Ross Award for Knowledge Commercialisation:
Dr Grant Douglas

Grant douglas web

Phosphorus run-off from fertiliser can cause major algal blooms that deplete water oxygen levels, and can cause fish die-offs, threaten fish farms and  compromise fresh drinking water supplies.

Dr Grant Douglas from CSIRO Land & Water has developed and patented a new phosphorus-adsorbent clay, Phoslock™, which addresses the source of harmful algae.

Dr Douglas has proved Phoslock™ effectively removes phosphorus without any lasting effects or adverse impact on the environment.

Now, the product is used in more than 20 countries to control and prevent algal blooms. And Phoslock™ is the core product for a $750M ASX-listed company.

The Clunies Ross Award for Knowledge Commercialisation recognises an individual or small team responsible for the discovery, development and adoption of a technology and for sharing their knowledge leading to successful commercialisation.

Batterham Medal for Engineering Excellence
Associate Professor Pauline Pounds 

Pauline Pounds

Associate Professor Pauline Pounds is an engineering trailblazer whose groundbreaking contributions to designing unmanned aerial vehicles have been game changing for the last 15 years.

Her creative and innovative problem-solving approach has systematically eliminated many previously critical limitations on drone technology, paving the way for new generations of large multirotor drones capable of practical real-world applications ranging from package delivery to search-and-rescue operations

Associate Professor Pounds’ most recent innovation – aerodynamic motion sensors – offer unprecedented precision measurement and control.

Her rotor velocimetry technology is the best in the world, and enables safer, more effective drone use in challenging conditions.

The Batterham Medal is an early career award for a graduate engineer who has achieved substantial peer and industry recognition. And it reinforces the contribution that engineering makes to Australia’s reputation as a centre of technology and innovation leadership.

ICM Agrifood Award:
Professor Michelle Colgrave

Michelle Colgrave web

Professor Michelle Colgrave leads the Food and Agricultural Proteomics teams at Edith Cowan University and CSIRO, using revolutionary technology to identify key proteins that will benefit Australia’s food and agriculture industries and improve human health.

Professor Colgrave is recognised for major breakthroughs in the analysis of gluten, which causes a dangerous auto-immune response in people with coeliac disease.

Her research has supported the development of an ultra-low gluten barley, now known as Kebari® which is used in the production of gluten-free cereals, beers and food products with all the nutritional benefits of whole grains, and are also safe to be enjoyed by coeliac sufferers.

The ICM Agrifood Award recognises and acknowledges the outstanding work of two individuals in the early phase of their career, for achieving substantial peer or industry recognition of their work in a field critical to improving the overall Australian food sector.

ICM Agrifood Award:
Dr Greg Falzon

Greg Falzon

Dr Greg Falzon is recognised for advancing AI in Agriculture.

He’s researched, developed and applied artificial intelligence to create a multi-billion dollar growth industry in precision agriculture systems.

Dr Falzon has developed a surveillance alert camera system to detect feral animals, created sensor networks to manage soil moisture, and written algorithms and software to facilitate drone-based monitoring of livestock.


His work is transforming agriculture, from autonomous weed-spraying robots to sensor networks to monitor and respond to crop health.

The ICM Agrifood Award recognises and acknowledges the outstanding work of two individuals in the early phase of their career, for achieving substantial peer or industry recognition of their work in a field critical to improving the overall Australian food sector.

Ezio Rizzardo Polymer Scholarship:
Ms Charmaine Hee

Charmaine Hee

In only her second year of a PhD at the University of Western Australia, Charmaine Hee is working on self-assembling polymers that can be programmed to create complex structures.

Ms Hee’s work is aimed at developing precision and personalised medical solutions through improving understanding of molecular recognition within living cells. Holding a Bachelor of Philosophy with First Class Honours in Chemistry, Ms Hee is also a passionate science communicator who’s been inspiring the next generation of STEM students since the beginning of her undergraduate studies.

The Ezio Rizzardo Polymer Scholarship acknowledges and awards merit and potential impact of an outstanding PhD candidate in polymer science or engineering. It recognises outstanding polymer research in Australia and work that delivers impacts that benefit Australia.

David and Valerie Solomon Award:
Dr Gang (Kevin) Li

Gang Li

Dr Gang (Kevin) Li has invented a new technique to capture the greenhouse gas methane and reduce emissions from coal mines and natural gas production.

His ionic liquid zeolites – or porous absorbent minerals – have advanced gas separation technologies.

Dr Li has earned three patent applications and a $1 million Global Innovation Linkage Grant, and he’s worked with industry partners to establish a new company to commercialise this research, in collaboration with industry partners.

His company, Gas Capture Technologies Pty Ltd has scaled up the technology from grams to tonnes, placing Australia as a global leader in gas processing technology.

The David and Valerie Solomon Award recognises an early-mid career science or technology graduate working in academia, research or industry R&D who demonstratesthe  substantial ability to foster research-industry collaboration and knowledge transfer for the benefit of Australia.

Thank you to the sponsors of the 2020 ATSE Innovation and Excellence Awards


ATSE Awards Sponsor

While the COVID-19 pandemic is significantly affecting Australia’s economy and STEM community, CSIRO remains committed to strengthening our national STEM capability. In 2020, CSIRO will continue to partner with universities and business to run programs that grow Australia’s future STEM workforce.

Between 100-110 STEM graduates are recruited each year into the CSIRO Early Research Career (CERC) Postdoctoral Fellow program, developing the next generation of leaders of Australia’s innovation system. CERC Postdocs grow their skills, apply their talent and broaden their horizons focussing on projects that are to solve big, complex problems that make a real difference to the future of Australia and the world.

CSIRO also works with the Science and Industry Endowment Fund (SIEF) on programs like the Ross Metcalf STEM+Business Fellowships. Facilitated by CSIRO’s SME Connect with funding from the SIEF, it has so far placed 33 postdoctoral fellows with SMEs to develop innovative commercial solutions and break down the cultural divide between researchers and industry.

As the national science agency, CSIRO solves the greatest challenges through innovative science and technology. CSIRO believes science and technology hold the key to Australia’s recovery and future resilience in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, building a better future for everyone.


Gold Sponsor

ANSTO leverages great science to deliver big outcomes.

We partner with scientists and engineers and apply new technologies to provide real-world benefits. Our work improves human health, saves lives, builds our industries and protects the environment.

ANSTO is the home of Australia’s most significant landmark and national infrastructure for research. Thousands of scientists from industry and academia benefit from gaining access to state-of-the-art instruments every year.

diser logo
Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources

Gold Sponsor

Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources

The Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (DISER) has a central role in enabling economic growth and job creation for all Australians. The department supports economic transformation and competitiveness by investing in business, science and innovation, and advances the Australian Government’s economic agenda to create meaningful jobs. It is committed to delivering trusted and efficient services that make a real difference, with a clear line of sight between its work and what matters to the Australian people.

The department’s effort relies on building strong relationships between businesses, entrepreneurs, employees, the science community, government, regulators and international partners. It supports businesses and employees as they manage market disruptions and seek new opportunities, including those presented by digital technology.

Skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are crucial to the jobs of the future. The department develops and implements programs to increase STEM capabilities and engagement across the community and to provide equal opportunity for all people wanting to learn, work and engage in STEM.

Supporting science and commercialisation is a pillar of the department’s work. The department facilitates the development and uptake of new ideas and technology, and translating them into commercial activity. DISER encourages collaboration between businesses and researchers to deliver better scientific and economic outcomes for Australia.

Cicada innovations
Cicada Innovations

Venue Sponsor

Cicada Innovations is Australia’s pioneer deep tech incubator, supporting startups and scaleups solving the world’s pressing problems. We create an environment that enables a perfect storm of business, industry and science to coalesce around visionary entrepreneurs, supporting them to bring disruptive, life-changing technologies to market.

An original tenant of the growing Sydney technology precinct, residents and community members can leverage the rare convenience of office space and specialist deep tech infrastructure such as lab and rapid prototyping facilities under one roof.

Our residents and alumni span a number of industry verticals, from the future of food and sustainable energy to healthcare and Space 2.0. They make up a curated community of 400+ innovative problem solvers that we support with our wide networks of industry leaders, business builders, and investors; access to the talent and assets of our university shareholders ANU, USYD, UNSW, and UTS; and our suite of programmatic products and services.

To date, we have helped more than 300 companies employing 2600+ people, raise $450m+ in venture capital and government grants, file 500+ patents and trademarks and launch 700+ deep technology innovations globally.

We also acknowledge the following organisations for their ongoing support of the Academy's Awards

2020 ATSE Innovation & Excellence Awards – Assessors

We are grateful to the following individuals who have volunteered their time to assess the 2020 ATSE Innovation & Excellence Awards:

Prof Marilyn Anderson, Dr Mary Ann Augustin, Dr Julie Beeby, Prof Simon Biggs, Dr Amanda Caples, Prof Mark Cassidy, Dr Janis Cocking, Dr Peter Coldrey, Dr Ian Dagley, Dr Jacqueline Craig, Dr Ian Dagley, Dr Eileen Doyle, Prof Emer Lindsay Falvey, Mr John Grace, Prof Bronwyn Harch, Dr Erol Harvey, Prof Emily Hilder, Dr Anita Hill, Prof Iven Mareels, Prof Eric May, Mr Wayne Osborn, Dr Brett Phillips, Mr Ross Pilling, Prof Laura Poole-Warren, Prof Timothy Reeves, Dr Ezio Rizzardo, Mrs Deirdra Shears, Prof Anne Simmons, Prof Emer Maree Smith, Prof Thomas Spurling, Dr Jenny Stauber, Prof Emer Elizabeth Taylor, Prof Emer Robert White, Dr Meryl Williams