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Light up the world with your brilliant idea

With a share of $100,000 in cash prizes on offer, staff and students from all faculties, institutes and research centres at our partner research institutions are encouraged to submit their entrepreneurial ideas and inventions in UniQuest's annual Trailblazer competition.

The competition aims to stimulate entrepreneurial thinking and encourage students and academics to consider the commercial potential of their intellectual assets. Entries can relate to businesses, products, services, technologies or other innovations.

Past prize recipients of Trailblazer have included Professor Jim Rothwell’s paralysis tick control innovation; Dr Nicola Burton’s adult resilience training concept; student Callum Hickey’s water filtration device; former student (now Dr) Larry Weng’s advanced engine optimisation control system; and Associate Professor Andrew Bradley’s technology for screening neonatal hearing.

At a series of University Finals in July and August, finalists will get to pitch their ideas to a judging panel which includes experts in intellectual property management, business development, research commercialisation and industry engagement. Seven prizes will be awarded at a special prize presentation ceremony following each Final.

Winners from the Finals will go on to compete against representatives from The University of Queensland, University of Wollongong, University of Tasmania, James Cook University and University of Technology, Sydney, in a Grand Final ‘shoot out’ in Brisbane on 15 August.

The prize money is not the only incentive for staff and student to enter this year’s Trailblazer. All entrants will have two chances to win an iPad – one drawn at the each University Final Awards Ceremony and the second at the Grand Final.

Finalists will also have opportunities to develop their pitching skills by attending professional presentation training sessions and working closely with UniQuest’s Managers of Innovation and Commercial Development.

UniQuest Managing Director, David Henderson, said Trailblazer is about identifying and rewarding ideas and innovations that have the potential to benefit the community, industry or business.

“It’s also about helping university researchers, the people behind the ideas, to think about how a commercial pathway could attract wider interest in their work and additional sources of funding for research. It’s about putting academic minds in touch with the business experts who can help make those ideas shine.

“Our competition promotions this year prompt researchers to consider the possibilities. There are so many great inventions that we rely on in every aspect of our daily lives – paper, the internet, polymer bank notes, the espresso coffee machine. Imagine if these ideas had never come to light and attracted the support needed to develop them?

“Trailblazer offers a unique opportunity for ideas – from the Arts and Humanities, the Sciences, Business and IT – to spark into something bigger and brighter and beneficial for many more people.”

UniQuest has been running Trailblazer for nine years. Past finalists and winners have leveraged what they gained from Trailblazer to attract grants and commercial investment to further their research.

For example:

• A small-molecule technology prompted the establishment of Spinifex Pty Ltd, which has the world-wide exclusive licence to develop and commercialise a novel pathway for pain medication. Spinifex has advanced significantly with investment from three major biotech investors.

• Hydrexia Pty Ltd, a company established to commercialise a new technology for the inexpensive and safe storage of hydrogen, has benefited from the financial support of Uniseed, teQstart, the Queensland Government Innovation Start-up Scheme and the Queensland Sustainable Energy Innovation Fund.

• One of the first projects to win a University of Wollongong Trailblazer award was packaged with an existing patented UQ technology to form Imprezzeo Pty Ltd, an image-search software company. Imprezzeo secured backing from Independent News and Media PLC to launch onto the global market.

• ‘Family Transitions: Positive Parenting after Divorce’ is now in the marketplace as one of the suite of Triple P Positive Parenting Programs. Triple P is currently available in 20 languages for families in 18 countries, and more than 30,000 professionals around the world have been trained to deliver the program to more than two million parents.

These and more successes are described on the Trailblazer website, along with details of how to enter, prizes, and other benefits.

This year’s Trailblazer is sponsored by patent and trade mark attorneys Fisher Adams Kelly and Davies Collison Cave; intellectual property firm Shelston IP; patent and trade mark attorneys and IP lawyers Griffith Hack; audit, tax, advisory and accountancy firm BDO; corporate training company NRG Solutions; consumer health care company sanofi-aventis; and New Scientist magazine.

Entries close on Friday 17 June. Finalists will be announced on Monday 11 July.