The Curtinnovation Awards represent Curtin University’s commitment to ensuring that exceptional research outcomes translate into new products and services. The 2018 Curtinnovation winner is the REX orthopaedic screw, developed by a team from Curtin and St John of God Subiaco Hospital.
Last year, we applauded very diverse and innovative technologies for cyber security, powerline faults, analysing human emotions and implementing cultural change in schools. This year, our category winners again demonstrate the diversity of Curtin’s research excellence, with innovations for orthopaedics, drug delivery, food safety and sustainability in schools.
Overall winner: REX orthopaedic screw
Hip fracture repairs are notoriously problematic, with up to 10 per cent of patients requiring further surgery due to screws loosening from the bone – a traumatic outcome for the individual and a burden on the health system.
In collaborating to address this enduring issue, a research team comprising biomedical engineers and orthopaedic surgeons have developed a superior surgical screw. The expandable mechanism of the REX screw is unique in that it prevents a gap occurring between the screw and the attached bone. This not only provides a stronger attachment, but also increases the options for screw placement – both of which can improve patient mobility and rehabilitation.
Team: Matthew Oldakowski, Intan Oldakowska, Professor Garry Allison, Professor Brett Kirk, Dr Philip Hardcastle, Professor Markus Kuster, Professor Gabriel Lee, Ian Brown.
Winner, Health Sciences prize: Meat microbe detection
In Australia, the economic impact of food-borne diseases is about $1.2 billion annually. Unfortunately, routine screening processes for pathogens are time-consuming and expensive, and generally require specialist equipment and staff.
Now, a research team at Curtin’s School of Molecular and Life Sciences has developed an efficient genetic test that signals the presence of pathogens through a simple colour indicator. Supported by the Australian Meat Processor Corporation, the research was the first to investigate the potential of hybridisation chain reaction, or HCR, as a rapid gene-identification tool in food-borne pathogens. The technology could soon provide a simple, quick and low-cost test for the routine screening of high-volume samples.
Team: Dr Ranil Coorey, Professor Gary Dykes, Dr Joshua Ravensdale.
Winner, Science and Engineering prize: ARISE drug preparation system
ARISE is an acronym for Atomised Rapid Injection for Solvent Extraction, a manufacturing platform that can help improve targeted drug delivery.
Developed by a Curtin team of chemical engineers, ARISE produces micron and sub-micron particles of active ingredients. Smaller particles are more readily absorbed by the body, enabling lower dosages and reduced side-effects. The technology also lessens the impact that solubility has on drug effectiveness.
For pharmaceutical companies, ARISE should hasten the drug development process, assuring a faster return on development investment.
Professor Neil Foster.
Winner, Humanities prize: Curtin Challenge learning platform
Curtin Challenge is an online learning platform that uses game-based elements to deliver content for developing creativity, leadership and problem-solving skills.
Curtin Challenge was created by the University’s Learning Futures Team as a resource for students. What makes it unique in the online learning market is its combination of educational, organisational and grading functionalities; together with the capability for self-directed team learning as well as individual learning.
Team: Professor David Gibson, Dr Mel Henry.
Winner, Business and Law prize: Harvest optimisation
Western Australian grain growers are making better-informed decisions about harvesting, due to an innovative combination of new grain-storage options and mathematical modeling.
During harvest season, a range of factors can leave growers exposed to the risk of yield losses and/or crop downgrades. To help farmers better manage those risks, WA company Global Grain Handling Solutions sought the help of Professor Ryan Loxton and his team. Combining their expertise in mathematical modeling and computer programming, the team successfully developed a software tool that accommodates more than 60 inputs – such as crops, weather conditions, equipment and transport availability. Despite a complexity of variables, the straightforward spreadsheet design allows growers to readily explore their harvest options and identify the most profitable scenarios for their individual farm.
Team: Professor Ryan Loxton, Dr Elham Mardaneh, Shiv Meka, Luke Gamble (Global Grain Handling Solutions).
Winner, Teaching and Learning prize: ClimateClever
ClimateClever is a novel data-driven app that helps schools reduce their carbon footprint and save money in the process.
Devised by Curtin researchers in sustainability, the app has three interconnected modules, comprising measurement, auditing and action tools. ClimateClever’s function and design provides an engaging approach to help schools address wasteful behaviours and reduce energy, water and waste management costs. It also serves as a collaborative learning resource that encourages students to understand sustainability concepts and practices.
Thirty Australian schools are currently participating in the ClimateClever program, with more to follow. The team’s next step is to adapt the app for ‘ClimateClever Homes’.
Dr Vanessa Rauland.