David and Valerie Solomon Award
The David and Valerie Solomon Award is an early-mid career award for a science or technology graduate working in academia/research or industry R&D who demonstrates substantial ability to foster research-industry collaboration and knowledge transfer for the benefit of Australia. The winner will receive a unique award, a cash prize of $15,000 and 12 months mentoring from a senior entrepreneur/industry Fellow of the Academy with $5000 travel expenses to enhance this mentoring experience.
Specifically the Award will:
- Highlight the importance of collaboration between industry and research, and the translation of research for economic, social and environmental benefit.
- Recognise the achievements of an early-mid career researcher who has worked across the research-industry divide, beyond purely academic research or only experimental development.
- Bring to the attention of policy-makers the key role applied science, technology and innovation play in the nation’s development.
Please review the guidelines below for more information.
>See past winners
About David Solomon
Professor David Solomon AC FRS FAA FTSE is an Australian, world-renowned polymer chemist. He is best known for his work in developing Living Radical Polymerisation techniques, and was the principal inventor of Australia’s first polymer banknotes.
He is often referred to as the father of polymer research in Australia, having established three internationally acclaimed polymer research groups: in industry (Dulux, 1960), in Australia’s peak scientific research organisation, CSIRO (1970) and at the University of Melbourne (1990).
His passion for applied research, Australian industry innovation based on Australian discoveries and encouraging researcher-industry engagement is reflected in his diverse career spanning leading roles in industry, research, research translation, invention, and academia.
It is this diverse and life-long experience of researcher-industry engagement, problem-solving and growing wealth for the country that is celebrated in the David and Valerie Solomon Award for Research-Industry Collaboration.
About Valerie Solomon
Mrs Solomon’s first business venture was breeding miniature Schnauzers in the family home in Glen Waverley. She then turned her attention developing an Angus cattle stud with the registered name Betbelanne on a challenging 59-hectare hilly property at Arawata near Korumburra in south-east Gippsland.
This was so successful it was transferred to a more manageable property at Officer, now a suburb of Melbourne. Mrs Solomon managed this farm for many years, with Professor Solomon as her trusty weekend farm labourer. She managed this stud until its sale in 2004.
Mrs Solomon hopes that the David and Valerie Solomon Award will encourage a new generation of women science and engineering graduates to establish their own businesses in an area of their passion.
Intention of the Award
The benefits of Australia’s world-class research system can only really realised with the translation of its outputs into economic and societal benefits. The effective translation of research will be at the core of Australia’s future competitiveness and prosperity.
This requires effective collaboration between our universities and publicly funded research organisations and industrial research and development organisations.
Australia undertakes world-class scientific research through universities and other publicly funded research organisations, and while research excellence is desirable in its own right, it is not a sufficient driver of innovation and is only one dimension of the research endeavour.
Research collaborations with the private and public sectors, entrepreneurial behaviour and knowledge transfer are equally important activities, which are largely driven by researchers who are engaged with industry and end-users of research.
The David and Valerie Solomon Award recognises and incentivises public sector researchers who are engaged with industry and engaged industrial researchers and drive collaborative activities to produce real-world impact.
About the Award
The award honours David Solomon, who is a Foundation Fellow of the Academy and who has been supported in his career by his wife, Valerie. The award is made available through a generous donation from David and Valerie Solomon.
Associate Professor Laura Downie
Associate Professor Laura Downie is recognised internationally for her leadership in evidence-based vision care, particularly in the area of dry eye disease for which she has engaged with leading international bodies, including the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Dry eye disease is a common eye condition in developed countries, affecting about 20 per cent of adults. Accurate and early diagnosis is a major clinical challenge because many current tests are invasive, time-consuming and inaccurate.
Laura co-invented a device that has capacity to revolutionise dry eye diagnosis. The Acoustically-Driven Microfluidic Extensional Rheometry (ADMiER) device enables eye care practitioners to gently take a patient’s tear droplet and test it immediately to determine if the patient has dry eye disease and, if so, which subtype.
Patients will benefit from enhanced diagnosis and more well-informed treatment, leading to improved outcomes. Laura received the 2019 American Academy of Optometry Foundation’s Korb-Exford career development grant to support the ADMiER device’s clinical validation. Laura is now leading a comprehensive cross-disciplinary development team to progress the technology towards clinical translation.
Dr Luke Djukic, Omni Tanker
Dr Luke Djukic is an outstanding aerospace engineer who is improving the safety and efficiency of transporting dangerous goods such as highly corrosive chemicals internationally.
Dr Djukic has dedicated his career to growing the Australian advanced composites industry, specialising in research and innovation. During the past five years he’s worked as Chief Technical Officer at Omni Tanker and under his technical leadership this Australian enterprise has become internationally recognised for its high integrity, technology-based dangerous goods transport products.
Omni Tankers’ thermoplastic-lined carbon fibre composite tank solutions are now servicing Australia, Europe, Northern America, New Zealand and Saudi Arabia in the form of United Nations portable tank containers, swap tank containers and road tankers.
Dr Djukic is a member of a United Nations working group which is developing transport regulations that will have substantial impact, bringing worldwide safety improvements as they permeate international standards.
Dr Gang (Kevin) Li, Gas Capture Technologies Pty Ltd
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.
Associate Professor Matthew Hill, CSIRO and Monash University
CSIRO and Monash University’s Matthew Hill received the Solomon Award for developing ‘magic crystals’ with dozens of applications from cleaning gases and liquids to mining and drug production.
Matthew Hill GAICD is Associate Professor at Monash Chemical Engineering, and Principal Research Scientist at CSIRO Manufacturing, with a PhD from UNSW (2006). Matt’s team has pioneered the reduction to practise of metal organic frameworks (MOFs) – the world’s most porous materials, made almost entirely of identically-sized holes. Like a sponge, MOFs can store and release molecules such as hydrogen on demand; or like a sieve, MOFs can separate molecules such as CO2 from the air. Originally only made in test tubes, Matt has invented a new chemical processing technology to produce MOFs at 10 kg per hour, enabling commercial usage.
Associate Professor Matthew Hill is an exceptional nominee for the 2019 Solomon Award. Matthew’s key demonstration of excellence, innovation, and impact arises from his discovery and implementation of flow chemistry to provide reliable scaling to MOF synthesis. This transformative technology, and the applications made possible, take MOFS from scientific curiosity to the next powerhouse material in industrial design for catalysis, membrane, and other applications. On the way to developing this technology, Matthew has also produced 58 publications in the past 5 years, 13 patents, and been granted 2 licences granted.
Matthew brilliantly crosses the interface of chemistry and chemical engineering and he creates new discoveries and new practical processes by fully embracing both fields. Matthew successfully navigates a full joint position between Engineering and CSIRO, which delivers improved engineering outcomes on several fronts. Firstly, Monash students gain hands-on experience in CSIRO’s applied engineering research. Secondly, CSIRO gains earlier visibility of new discoveries, familiarity with their potential, and much better ability to translate research outcomes to practical use.
Matthew’s signature contribution, mass production, flow chemistry methods for MOFs, make possible numerous new technologies particularly carbon dioxide capture directly from the atmosphere and robust membrane technologies that avoid typical aging problems. These are spectacular accomplishments that address major societal challenges and significantly advance the field of chemical engineering. Matthew is an outstanding young engineering researcher, and I have no hesitation in proposing him for this prestigious award.