Highly-durable, extreme-performance plastics and rubbers for use in industries ranging from automotive to construction are now closer to realisation thanks to a $1 million investment in a Brisbane materials company.

The University of Queensland start-up company TenasiTech is developing innovative plastic additives based on research by UQ’s Professor Darren Martin.

TenasiTech CEO Richard Marshall said the potential market for the product was encouraging.

“The poor scratch-resistance of acrylic glass is a key barrier to the more widespread replacement of traditional glass,” he said.

“Our additive products are simple to incorporate, and allow customers to design plastic sheets and other parts which are more durable as they are less prone to surface defects when handled.”

TenasiTech secured the current round of investment from members of angel investment groups Brisbane Angels and Melbourne Angels along with UQ-based venture fund and founding investor Uniseed.

UQ acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Max Lu said the investment in TenasiTech epitomised the importance of diversified support for research and commercialisation at UQ.

“This investment is important for the future of TenasiTech in realising the commercial potential of their range of high performance additives,” he said.

Professor Lu said the investment was an outcome of UniQuest’s commercialisation efforts and research partnership with UQ’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) that, since TenasiTech’s founding, has established a highly-successful Industrial Affiliates Program.

“The Industrial Affiliates Program enables the AIBN to partner with industry in a way that provides companies with access to research, expertise and facilities,” he said.

“In turn, the AIBN gains insights as well as support from its partners to help its researchers conduct highly relevant and beneficial research to industry.”

Mr Marshall said the products could be used for car interiors, glossy panels for kitchen doors and stair handrails.

“As the acrylic glass market is very large – worth six billion dollars globally – our investors are attracted to the commercial potential for our technology,” he said.

The $935,000 in funds will be used to further develop products from TenasiTech’s SOLID additive range and Adaptive Polyol technologies.

TenasiTech’s SOLID additive range provides a significant boost to acrylics technology, which doubles the surface hardness and scratch-resistance of acrylic without loss of gloss or impact strength, while their Adaptive Polyol technology takes rubbery thermoplastic polyurethanes to extreme performance levels without loss of flexibility.

UQ’s main commercialisation company, UniQuest, licensed the technology in 2007.

UniQuest CEO Dr Dean Moss said the investment was a great achievement for both TenasiTech and Professor Martin and his team.

“Attracting investment of this scale and in the current market is a strong vote of confidence in TenasiTech’s management and a testament to the quality of Professor Martin’s research,” he said.

“Professor Martin’s invaluable expertise in the field is reflected in his ongoing relationship with TenasiTech as the company’s chief scientist – another example of UQ’s strong engagement with industry and the development of innovative products to meet the market’s need.”

Professor Martin works at UQ’s School of Chemical Engineering in the Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology, and UQ’s Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology.

This round of investment follows on from Uniseed’s $825,000 seed investment, which allowed the company to demonstrate the effectiveness of its nanotechnology additives.

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