[ASC-media] Media Release: spinoffs from science

CRCA Media crca-media at starclass.com.au
Mon Oct 13 16:34:30 EST 2003

Co-operative Research Centres Association Media Release - CRCA 36

October 14, 2003


AUSTRALIA'S combined $11 billion annual investment in science and technology is yielding a crop of dynamic world-leading technologies to build the knowledge economy.

Among the latest ventures in biotechnology, ICT and healthcare are three new enterprises from the nation's 71 Co-operative Research Centres (CRCs).

THE WORLD'S most powerful and cost-effective plant breeding technology is poised to give Australia a leading edge in a critical area of global biotech - the breeding of superior wheats and other food crops.
A joint venture company, Tritcarte PL, has been launched by the Value Added Wheat CRC and Diversity Arrays Technology Pty Limited, 
with backing from the Grains Research and Development Corporation, to commercialise novel genotyping technology for barley and wheat.

The technology dramatically accelerates the process of selecting desirable genes for novel food crops using conventional breeding, says VAWCRC chief executive Dr William Rathmell.

"Plant breeding can be a bit like playing the pokies, where you may have to pull the lever 1000 times to win.  But with the Triticarte approach, you can select the precise genes you want to include in your new wheat variety," Dr Rathmell says.

"It's all-Australian technology.  It costs around ten cents to flag a key gene that you're after - which is a fraction of the cost of comparable technologies.

"And it's very fast. It took us just two days to compile a genetic family tree of Australia's main wheat varieties which otherwise would have taken four years."

The technology will enable plant breeders using conventional breeding to create designer wheats which combine features desired by consumers, food makers and farmers. These could include improved nutrition and shelf-life, better baking quality and resistance to pests or drought.

More information:
Peter Vaughan, Value Added Wheat CRC, 02 9490 8488

A RADICAL Australian-designed communications technology that can sort and deliver millions of messages per second is poised to revolutionise the way people receive and use information across the internet.

Known as Elvin, the technology is the focus of the latest spin-off venture from the CRC for Enterprise Distributed Systems Technology (DSTC), a new firm called Advanced Messaging Technologies PL.

"Elvin is a radical shift in network communications because it allows messages to be received and sent by content - rather than predetermined addresses or channels," says DSTC chief executive officer Mark Gibson.

"This unique routing technology vastly improves the scope of network communications, and will provide huge savings in both time and money in the transfer of information."

Elvin is a universal internet technology capable of operating at massive scale, collecting 'events' across the internet and filtering them at lightning speed to deliver to a network of users only those items which are of direct interest.

Elvin is a generic technology that can be used for almost any information gathering application. Developer Bill Segall says the first major commercial application will be in securities trading - where time, speed and performance are money.

"Using Elvin we can deliver tens of thousands of messages to hundreds of individual desks in just a few milliseconds. Those are the sorts of volumes and speeds you need nowadays to operate on global financial markets.  That adds up to a serious competitive edge," Mr Segall says.

The technology has also been trialled in telecommunications network management, network security and in defence applications in both Australia and the United States.

More information:
Mr Mark Gibson, DSTC, 07 3365 4310
Bill Segall, Advanced Messaging Technologies, 0413 734 255
Naomi Andrew, DSTC, 07 3365 4310 or 041 772 4490

AN AUSTRALIAN-DESIGNED hearing lab no larger than a briefcase is poised to help people all round the world to hear better - especially very young children.

Developed by the CRC for Cochlear Implant and Hearing Aid Innovation (CRC HEAR) and the National Acoustic Laboratories, HearLab is the world's most compact and powerful way to carry out the latest auditory and hearing aid testing, whether in the clinic or the field.

The technology will be commercialized worldwide through the CRC's company HearWorks Pty Ltd, in partnership with leading international auditory equipment firms.

HearLab opens new frontiers in auditory testing by having one piece of hardware that can perform a wide range of tests, each backed by its own unique analysis software, says CRC deputy director Dr Harvey Dillon.

"Our prototype will have four hearing tests in a single unit, replacing the four separate pieces of often very cumbersome and expensive test equipment audiologists currently need.  Most exciting, there is capacity to easily add further existing tests, or a range of entirely new ones that CRC HEAR and NAL are currently developing into a comprehensive range of tests in a single kit.  "It is highly portable - ideal for both the major hearing markets in Europe and North America, but also because of its comparatively low cost and mobility, for use in rural areas and in countries with developing demand for audiological services such as China ," he explains.

HearLab will enable:
1.	A speech test to efficiently  analyse how much speech people can understand in noisy environments
2.	A brainwave test that shows immediately whether a person is hearing and differentiating sounds - particularly valuable for infants who cannot respond
3.	A test of auditory processing ability for people whose hearing is rated 'normal' by conventional tests, but who still have difficulty in understanding speech
4.	 An audiometer for testing children's behavioural response to a novel set of sound stimuli, and which can be operated by a single audiologist instead of the usual team of two.

"Two previous CRC/NAL technologies are widely used and trusted in auditory clinics round the world, and we're hoping our reputation for quality technology will generate early market demand for HearLab," Dr Dillon says.

"The real value-add, so far as Australia is concerned, is in the software that drives each test. We're aiming to pioneer a whole suite of powerful new hearing tests and deliver them to the world market."

More information
Dr Harvey Dillon, CRC HEAR, 02 9412 6820, Harvey.Dillon at nal.gov.au
Dr Bob Cowan, CRC HEAR, 03 9667 7500, r.cowan at unimelb.edu.au

Julian Cribb, CRCA Media, 0418 639 245

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