New South Wales Leaders

Forum for Accelerating Research and Innovation in NSW draws enthusiastic support

WESTERN SYDNEY University today hosted, in partnership with NSW State Member for Vaucluse Gabrielle Upton, the industry forum, Accelerating Research and Innovation in NSW, at its Parramatta City campus.

The forum is part of a collaborative campaign to drive innovation and research commercialisation in New South Wales.

With rates of disruption and change accelerated by the shift to digital and the post-pandemic economy, the NSW Premier launched in January 2021, the NSW Action Plan for Accelerating Research and Development (R&D).

The plan was guided by an Advisory Council, chaired by David Gonski AC, with membership drawn from the business, investment, startup and tertiary education sectors.  

The Plan’s five Priority Actions are to: Launch a Small Business Innovation Research program; boost ‘open data’ from government so businesses can make better decisions; turbocharge precincts to attract technology industries and investment; target strategic support for NSW universities; and establish an R&D matchmaking platform. 

Western Sydney University’s vice-chancellor and president, Barney Glover, joined a panel of experts chaired by NUW Alliance chief operating officer, Jane Reynaud. The panel also included Sarah Hill (CEO of Western Sydney Parkland Authority), Emma Johnston (dean of science at UNSW) and Rebecca Pham (accelerator manager, Launch Pad at Western Sydney University).

“NSW is emerging strongly from the pandemic, and is in a prime position to invest in translating innovations into practical solutions that address collaboratively identified challenges," Professor Glover said.

“This plan is an excellent platform on which to capitalise on that opportunity.”

Ms Upton, who apart from being the State Member for Vaucluse, is the Parliament Secretary to the Premier, led the development of the Action Plan and shared her vision for turning the plan’s priorities into commercialised products and services that benefit the people of NSW.

“On 1 June 2021 we launched the Action Plan’s first priority – the $24 million Small Business Innovation Research Program calling on SMEs to bring forward innovative ideas to solve discrete government agency problems. This is just the start of the rollout of the Plan’s priorities”, Ms Upton said. 

To find out more, visit the Accelerating R&D in NSW Action Plan website.

www.westernsydney.edu.au

 

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Coles Nurture Fund backs Addison Road Community Centre efforts

THE ADDISON ROAD Community Centre in Sydney’s inner west will be one of the first charities in Australia to establish a ‘zero waste, zero emissions’ kitchen for rescued food thanks to a grant from the Coles Nurture Fund. 

Located in Marrickville, the new commercial kitchen will run entirely on solar energy and close the loop on rescued food by making ready-to-eat meals from food donated by SecondBite and Coles. The meals will then be distributed to disadvantaged people in Sydney's inner west.

Addison Road Community Organisation CEO Rosanna Barbero welcomed the $165,000 grant from Coles to fit out the new commercial kitchen and install solar panels for her organisation.  

“With the support of Coles, the Addison Road Community organisation will achieve a zero waste, zero emissions food rescue program," Ms Barbero said. "The winners are the people and the planet. We will show Australia and beyond that it can be done, creating jobs and training opportunities, one community at a time." 

Addison Road is an independent, community-based charity that has been operating since 1976, providing food and services for disadvantaged people in Sydney's inner west and beyond. Through Coles’ partnership with national food rescue organisation SecondBite, Addison Road Community Organisation receives and redistributes unsold food donations from local Coles stores to help feed those in need.

Coles state general manager for New South Wales, Ivan Slunjski said he was delighted to see the Nurture Fund award support great sustainability initiatives for small organisations like Addison Road.

“The Coles Nurture Fund was set up to support new, innovative practices, processes and technologies and we’ve been delighted with the calibre of recent applications,"  Mr Slunjski said. "At a time when providing food to people in need across Australia is so important due to the flow-on effect of COVID-19, we’re delighted to support Addison Road Community Centre.

“At Coles, we want to win together with Australian communities to be the most sustainable supermarket in Australia. By helping to fund initiatives which increase local production and enhance the environment, we aim to drive generational sustainability in Australia.”

Federal Member for Grayndler and Federal Labor Party Leader, Anthony Albanese, welcomed the investment to his local community.

“Thank you to Coles for the great initiative that is ‘The Coles Nurture Fund’.  Addison Road Community Centre is the ideal recipient for this award,” Mr Albanese said.

“Addison Road, under the leadership of CEO Rosanna Barbero, continues to lead the way in ensuring that genuine community needs are met whilst considering the effect on the planet and the future.  I am always inspired by the spirit and energy that drives so many good results for the most disadvantaged in our society.  This is a great project.”

Since it was established in 2015, the Coles Nurture Fund has provided financial support to over 60 Australian businesses to help them introduce innovative technology, improve sustainability, establish new products and drive productivity.

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Caption: Celebrating the new Coles initiatives supporting the Addison Road Community Centre's work are (from left) Coles Marrickville store manager Chris Cauchi, Coles Regional Manager NSW Sheraz Rasool, Addison Road Community Centre Organisation CEO Rosanna Barbero, Federal Member for Grayndler NSW and Leader of the Opposition Anthony Albanese, SecondBite chairman Julian Martin and Coles state manager for NSW Ivan Slunjski.

Adora Handmade Chocolates taste sweet expansion

ADORA Handmade Chocolates has one of the most remarkable backstories of any Australian confectionery maker.

Adora started out as a simple home-made chocolates business in 1993, designed to make some extra money for sisters Tina Angelidis and Katerina Stavropoulos, as they supported their partners in raising their families. Over a quarter century later, the business has developed in both size and brand reputation to be poised for steady expansion. 

“Over time, the business has had to be the main income for both families,” director Tina Angelidis said. “Now the children have grown, the business has taken on another phase. We now can see the potential beyond just an income and would like to explore the possibilities.”

And those possibilities seem ripe for the picking, right now, for Adora Handmade Chocolates.

ADORA COMES OF AGE

Over the past few years, consequently, the Adora leadership team has focused on laying the groundwork for expansion – and this has rapidly paid off.

First came the decision to install new equipment and restructure Adora’s manufacturing site, a couple of years ago, supplying a broad range of customers and four Adora Cafes in Sydney’s CBD, Earlwood, Parramatta and Newtown.

“Significant technologies and systems introduced include ordering systems, purchasing, stock management, and making accountability more visible,” Ms Angelidis said.

But perhaps most rewarding was the relocation of Adora’s original Earlwood store.

“After 22 years in Homer Street, last year we relocated our Earlwood store to 118 Wardell Rd Earlwood, corner of Bass St,” Ms Angelidis said. “It was a big step for us, but we were able to relocate our business of 25 years to a new location and, at the same time, increase sales immediately.”

Ms Angelidis said she learned to “never underestimate or overestimate people’s potential”.

Furthermore, incentive rewards have successfully been introduced for staff at all levels.

MEETING GROWTH CHALLENGES

The company’s financial turnaround over the past year has been solid and confident, as a result of Adora’s innovative but measured approach. That seems even more remarkable in a retail environment that is rife with challenges.

“Currently the chocolate café industry has suffered due to the high rents, high staff costs and increasing costs from food suppliers,” Ms Angelidis said. “We have had to try to renegotiate all areas more regularly.” 

An area that needs special attention, Ms Angelidis and her leadership team agree – because it has such a negative effect on the retail cost of products – is the hurdle of payroll tax, often described by economists as a ‘tax on employment’.

“Payroll tax must be addressed for the hospitality industry,” Ms Angelidis said. “The industry hardly allows you to grow the business, pay staff correctly and still make a profit.”

Another challenge has been the quest to use more sustainable and ethical products, creating some logistical challenges.

“We are also using more and more natural ingredients in all our products,” she said, mentioning its impact on the bottom line.

Indeed, the public has reacted enthusiastically to all Adora product innovations so far. 

For 2019 and beyond, Tina Angelidis’s primary goals are to consolidate the manufacturing with the retail “in order to build the business to a more profitable and sustainable model and replicate thereafter”.

“I want Adora Handmade Chocolates to be a recognised, reputable and sustainable business,” Ms Angelidis said.

With that solid foundation – hand-built by sisters Tina and Katerina from the ground up, over 25 years – Adora Handmade Chocolates continues to innovate and foment ever-more heavenly chocolate experiences.

www.adora.com.au

 

Adora Handmade Chocolates 

Best-known brands: Adora Café, Adora Signature Truffles made with natural ingredients, Special Order chocolates and Hampers, Handmade High Tea, Chocolate Classes as team building for clients or colleagues 

Adora Handmade Chocolates operates across the manufacturing and hospitality industries, and is led by director Tina Angelidis.

Adora has one manufacturing site and four retail and café outlets across Sydney, with a total of 24 staff.

Awards: Adora’s chocolates have won many awards at the Sydney Royal Easter Show. Adora has also been awarded Business of the Year for the Canterbury region.

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Ceramisphere technology goes global

By Mike Sullivan >>

CAN CERAMIC micro-encapsulation technology – a new materials process originally developed by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation – change the world for the better?

Not only can it happen but New South Wales company Ceramisphere has been established to make it happen.

Ceramisphere has developed two quite different product lines that utilise ceramic micro-encapsulation technology.

Ceramisphere itself manufactures green, smart additives for paints and coatings that provide unrivalled corrosion protection. Ceramisphere Health – an offshoot company that operates specifically in the health and medical sector – is developing a new type of transdermal patch for pain relief and wound healing. Trials so far have given the company great confidence in the ability of this technology to have a successful impact on post shingles pain treatment and help fighting the opioid crisis. 

The year ahead is expected to be a busy, fruitful one of commercialisation and stepping up sales for Ceramisphere smart pigments, according to CEO and founder, Chris Barbé, although there are certainly major challenges to be met.

“Our target for Ceramisphere in 2019 is to increase the market penetration for our smart anticorrosion pigments (known by the registered trademark, Inhibispheres) in North America and Europe,” Dr Barbé said.

“We will try to capitalise on the momentum created by our first sale in the USA and keep growing our pipeline through our network of nine distributors. We have more than 100 companies currently testing our products worldwide.”

At the same time, Ceramisphere Health is looking to raise capital and conduct clinical trials with a view to fast-track progress through the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“For Ceramisphere Health, we are looking to raise capital to take our ground breaking zero-waste nanocomposite patch technology through clinical trials,” Dr Barbé said. “We should benefit from an accelerated pathway through the FDA and potentially reach commercialisation as early as 2023, which is extremely rapid for Healthcare. 

“This makes it a very attractive proposition for potential investors.”

INNOVATION PEDIGREE

Investors looking at Ceramisphere are likely to be heartened by the company’s strong innovation pedigree and the way the company’s teams ‘keep finding a way’ to commercialise. 

Dr Barbé likes to quote from inventor and electricity entrepreneur Thomas Edison, whenever the going gets tough: “Nearly every man who develops an idea works it up to the point where it looks impossible, and then he gets discouraged. That’s not the place to become discouraged.”

Ceramisphere was created in 2007 as a fully owned subsidiary of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), as a vehicle to spin-off ANSTO’s novel ceramic micro-encapsulation technology. This first step to commercialisation was achieved in early 2010.

“Originally, we positioned ourselves as a micro-encapsulation company, with a service business model where the client brings a substance to encapsulate and we would develop the encapsulation process for them,” Dr Barbé said. The initial plan was for Ceramisphere to license the technology back to the client to manufacture – or contract the manufacturing of – the final product.

“We worked with a wide range of companies, all around the world, for various applications ranging from the encapsulation of flavours for chewing gum, to enzyme for washing powder, biocide for aquaculture all the way to RNA (ribonucleic acid) therapy.”

Dr Barbé founded Ceramisphere in 2007, working as the company’s technical director, and he became increasingly concerned by the slow commercial take-up of the technology, wondering if another business model should be explored.

“The development of smart additives for paints and coatings started in 2007 as a collaboration with (aircraft manufacturer) Airbus,” Dr Barbé said. “They were interested in developing a replacement for the toxic chromium primers currently used in aerospace to prevent corrosion. 

“After several years, we realised that our microencapsulation business model was not applicable to the paint industry. Paint manufacturers, being formulators, were interested in buying microencapsulated additives but not volunteering substances to be encapsulated. Like good cooks, they want to buy their ingredients not grow them …

“So, we changed our business model and became a smart additive manufacturer. This entailed building a manufacturing facility in Mt Kuringai, north of Sydney, and setting up a sales and distribution network in Europe and North America.”

“In 2014, when I took over as CEO we decided, being an SME with limited resources, to focus on two key areas where our patented technology presented some unique key competitive advantages: smart additives for paints and drug delivery for healthcare,” he said.

“On the healthcare side, after a number of collaboration projects with large pharmaceutical companies, technically successful but which did not progress commercially, we decided to take our destiny in our own hands,” Dr Barbé said.  “We chose to push through the clinic a ground breaking transdermal patch technology that we have developed in collaboration with a small company in the Czech Republic.

“The preclinical data is extremely positive with 30 times more efficient patches, with no residual waste – in contrast to 50-95 percent of the drug typically remaining inside current commercial patches when you discard them. We are currently developing a pipeline of three patch products: One, an extended release lidocaine patch for post-shingles pain; two, a new fentanyl patch for post-surgical and cancer pain’; and three, a bioactive wound healing dressing with faster and better healing properties.

“To better focus our effort, we have recently spun off the new company, Ceramisphere Health, which is solely dedicated to developing those novel nano-solutions for skin delivery.”

BREAKTHROUGHS

Two breakthroughs over the past year have been milestones for Ceramisphere.

The company made the first sale of its ground breaking Inhibispheres anticorrosion technology in North America in 2018. At Ceramisphere Health, positive preclinical data of the lidocaine patch confirmed superior efficiency and ease of disposal. 

“We are constantly expanding a modifying our range of Inhibispheres products to better address our customer’s needs,” Dr Barbé said. “In response to some specific demand from customers working in aerospace applications, we have developed two new products which are being evaluated in Europe and the US.

“The Inhibispheres technology is a rupture technology for the paint and coating industry. This patented technology is unique and offers significant increases in efficiency, with 30 times less chemical used for a better corrosion protection.”

Sustainability is part of Ceramisphere’s DNA, Dr Barbé said. The Inhibispheres products are a natural extension of that philosophy, finding a more sustainable way to manufacture anticorrosion pigments. They provided a novel, eco-friendly alternative to toxic chemicals, such as Chromium VI and other metals, currently used for corrosion protection.

And there has been significant commercial progress across North American and European markets with the establishment in 2018 of nine distributors.

“These distributors are acting as our sales forces and will enable us to penetrate these markets more quickly,” Dr Barbé said. “Our sales cycle is around 24 months. Lesson to be learned: patience … and the necessity to keep growing our pipeline.”

Ceramisphere is also learning that even a new, sustainable – and in many ways revolutionary – product must keep ‘showing up’ and weave its way through to industry acceptance.

“The paint and coating industry is a crowded place with a lot of consolidation occurring both for paint manufacturers but also distributors and suppliers,” Dr Barbé said.  “This makes it harder for a small entrepreneurial company based in Australia to enter the global market.

“Large companies tend to be benchmarking new technologies rather than adopting them. We rely on early adopters, to demonstrate the commercial potential of this novel technology and with this concentration happening throughout the industry, their numbers are dwindling.” 

Nevertheless, recognition is coming Ceramisphere’s way and sectors of the industry are taking note. For example, Ceramisphere received early acclaim from the Scandinavian Paint Association in Copenhagen, being named the Most Innovative Technology of 2018.

That sort of notice is appreciated by the hard-working teams at Ceramisphere who believe their products in development can genuinely change industry for the better.

“Our success is the result of close team work,” Dr Barbé said. “Every member of the team from the junior chemist to the business development manager contributes to the success of the company.

“We have had a slow and gradual increase of staff numbers over the past year. As a mature start-up, our policy is always to ‘hire slowly’. We are cautious but we are forging ahead.

“Our plan is to increase our sales into Europe and North America. Once we will have established our beachheads in these two markets, we will turn our eyes to Asia, which represents both a substantial opportunity – as the highest growth region for the paint industry – and a significant challenge both commercially and from an IP protection perspective.” 

While he admits the challenges are big for a small Aussie company, he believes the capability and the determination are there to see Ceramisphere succeed and become another great global company from Australia.

“To quote Thomas Edison again, ‘The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are: Hard Work, Stick-to-itiveness, and Common Sense’,” Dr Barbé said.

“Our teams at Ceramisphere and Ceramisphere Health know all about vital ingredients – and they certainly have those three, in spades.”

www.ceramisphere.com

Ceramisphere Pty Ltd and Ceramisphere Health Pty Ltd

Best-known brands: Ceramisphere® Inhibispheres ®

Started in 2007 as an offshoot company of ANSTO, Ceramisphere companies operate in the ‘paints and coatings’, manufacturing and healthcare (human and animal) sectors. The businesses are led by founder and former technical director Chris Barbé – who became the CEO in 2014 – Ceramisphere today is what he refers to as a ‘mature start-up’ with a permanent staff of 12 people and a turnover of more than $600,000. The leadership team is CEO Chris Barbé, Chief Scientific Officer Dr Aparajita Khatri for Ceramisphere Health, and Business Development Manager Ron Cozijnsen for Ceramisphere .

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Ocular Robotics envisions the future

AUSTRALIAN company Ocular Robotics has been recognised as a ‘game changer’ organisation in the global robotics revolution.

Ocular Robotics, a New South Wales Leaders alumni member, was presented with the Next Generation Game Changer Award at the 2015 RoboBusiness Conference in Silicon Valley, California. 

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