Technology Showcase Participants

The UNSW Science of Innovation Lab

The Science of Innovation lab (SIL) is a new hands-on practical research and applied science lab that uses Psychology and Neuroscience to scientifically map the mechanims of innovation and entrepreneurship to develop new ways to measure, examine and then boost innovation and performance from small startups to large companies. The SIL brings together cutting edge psychological and brain science across a network of UNSW faculties and groups including Psychology, Business, UNSW Innovations, the Michael Crouch Innovation Centre, AGSM Executive Education as well as industry and the wider community to support knowledge exchange.

Whilst there is a high degree of interest in innovation today, there is very little research involved in the human or ‘people’ side of innovation. Most labs, researchers, corporations and consultants are analysing success or failure of start-ups or sending qualitative surveys to get data. This does not involve hypothesis testing or controlled experiments aimed at investigating the underlying mechanisms of innovation focussing on the human mind and brain. UNSW’s SIL differentiates itself from this by a clear focus on the cognitive neuroscience of innovation. How can we measure and boost creativity? What are the brain states of being in a ‘Flow State’? How can we induce a flow state? How to train resilience against rejection or even measuring and training intuition?

This is a world first research lab that combined cutting edge science with business and entrepreneurship.

UNSW Microfactories

Microfactories to process a broad spectrum of waste from domestic and commercial streams into valuable raw materials and finished products. This includes but is not limited to toxic e-waste, glass fines, waste timber and wood, waste from processing of different commercial seafood operations, waste rubber tyres and other dry waste types. Affordable, scalable and sustainable. Capex under $500k in most instances and small space requirements. Creating jobs in regional and rural communities whilst diverting waste from landfills. Really positive economic, social and environmental positive outcomes.

Links below detail the IP portfolio in more detail:

Surfaces that control microbial colonisation – medical and industrial applications

Microbes of all kinds are genetically programmed to grow on surfaces. This is particularly a problem in the body, on food preparation surfaces, in pipe networks (e.g. water, oil, milk, wine, and gas), and water purification systems resulting in infection, contamination of foods/drink, damage to water distribution infrastructure, and increased water purification costs. In all these systems the process of colonisation involves the formation of ecosystems of high-density populations of microbial cells encapsulated within a self-produced polymeric matrix (a so-called biofilm). We have developed novel antimicrobials that can be bound to many different surfaces and retain prevent microbial colonisation. These antimicrobials are derived from natural products, or are mimics of natural products. We have shown that our antimicrobial surfaces can prevent infection associated with contact lenses and cochlear devices, are active in bone crunch used to heal broken bones, and are active on industrially relevant surfaces such as titanium, glass and plastic. We have been the first in the world to conduct Phase III clinical trials of antimicrobial contact lenses.

Gene therapy delivery of novel RNA molecules to lock HIV-1 in latency

HIV infects 37 million people worldwide. While the current treatment for HIV, known as anti-retroviral therapy or ART, is highly effective at controlling the virus, it has several major limitations. 1) ART must be continued life-long from the time of diagnosis. 2) Currently only ~18 million people have access to ART, leaving a further 19 million people still needing treatment. 3) ART can be associated with toxicity and ongoing stigma for infected patients, and 4) ART has no effect on the sleeping virus that has fused to the infected individuals genomic DNA and can reawaken if ART is ever stopped. This last point is the major barrier to an HIV cure and is the focus of our novel technology, which addresses the huge challenge of controlling HIV infection without the need for continuous ART.

We have designed novel anti-HIV RNA molecules to target the sleeping HIV DNA fused to the patient's DNA. These RNA molecules potently suppress the virus from replicating, thereby inducing sustained virus remission and locking the sleeping virus in a permanent state of latency (sleep), without the need for continuous ART. The ability to treat HIV without ART will have immense global impact. This is supported by the technology being patented by a commercial company and is currenty at National Phase Entry.

Mark Wainwright Analytical Centre

The Mark Wainwright Analytical Centre (MWAC) is part of the Division of Research at UNSW. We manage major instrumentation used by researchers and industry for the study of the structure and composition of biological, chemical and physical materials. Our facilities are housed in custom-built laboratories, located throughout the UNSW Kensington campus. The Centre's major Research Facilities are accessible to all staff and students of UNSW, as well as to external users. Staff of the Centre provide expertise, education, training and technical support to researchers accessing the facilities.

The Centre is comprised of 10 units each focusing on particular techniques:

  • Biomedical Imaging Facility
  • Bioanalytical Mass Spectrometry Facility
  • Biological Resource Imaging Laboratory
  • Flow Cytometry Facility
  • Electron Microscopy Unit
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Facility
  • Spectroscopy laboratory
  • Solid State and Elemental Analysis Unit
  • UNSW Biorepository
  • Transgenic Animal Unit
  • Stats Central (statistical consulting)

In addition, the Chemical Consulting Lab provides a range of services to external institutions, industry, government and individuals through access to MWAC instrumentation and expertise. 

Water electrolysis technology for hydrogen production

We develop technologies for electrolysis of water - using electricity generated from renewable energy sources such as solar or wind - represents one of the most environmentally-friendly methods yet proposed for the large-scale production and storage of hydrogen-derived energy, offering the advantages of simplicity and zero greenhouse gas emissions. The major current challenge of the technology is to discover low cost electrocatalysts that are sufficiently active and stable that can replace catalysts based on increasingly rare precious metals such as iridium and platinum. We have developed affordable and efficient water electrolyser with catalysts capable of working at an industrial scale.

We have made a series of breakthrough discoveries in developing cost-effective catalysts for electrochemical water splitting - greatly advancing the industrial potential of this technology, with major implications for storage of intermittent solar and wind energy at global scale. An example is the development of a series of highly efficient water splitting electrodes based on common nickel-iron, which has been reported in top-tier scientific journals such as Nature Communications. Exhibiting exceptional efficiency, this class of stable, low cost electrocatalyst exceeds the performance of the benchmark iridium catalysts.  

Innovation inside the engine room

The UNSW Engine Research Laboratory led by A/Prof Shawn Kook advances the science base needed by the automotive industry to develop clean burning engine technologies that can be used to meet ever more stringent emissions regulations while at the same time improving the engine efficiency. This is achieved by optical/laser-based imaging diagnostics performed in research engines with the piston and cylinder liner made of transparent materials. The spatial and temporal evolution of pollutants forming inside the cylinder of the engine is experimentally visualised, which provides implementation-ready solutions to significantly reduce or eliminate harmful engine-out emissions such as particulates and NOx.  

Virtual Reality innovations in teaching, research and training in the mining industry 

VR is a technology that is changing the way we educate and interact with information. UNSW Mining Engineering has pursued VR innovations for over 15 years, leading to multiple applications in industry, other universities and multiple awards for excellence in mining education. This is a good story as VR technology is giving our engineering students a chance to become more industry-ready without having to leave the university campus.

Light Induced Degradation and Hydrogen Passivation of Silicon Solar Cells

The performance of solar cells can be severely affected by grown-in or process-induced defects, or contaminants which can often go unnoticed until activated by the sun. In the latter case, this can be particularly damaging for modules that are sold and designed for a certain performance, that then degrade in performance once put to use in the sun- the sun that makes the panels work causes them to degrade! Ironic hey?

In this research we use hydrogen to passivate many types of defects and contaminants that harm the electrical performance of solar cells, to improve efficiencies, enable use of cheaper silicon and prevent degradation in the sun. Our team at UNSW working on this topic is leading the world in this field of research (we use lasers to control the hydrogen!) and has formed collaborations with up to 20 companies globally that are now using or hoping to use our hydrogen processes. We work with tool manufacturers to develop large-scale commercial tools to implement our hydrogen processes as well as many of the largest cell manufacturers to introduce our hydrogen processes into their manufacturing. We also work with many companies hoping to use our hydrogen processes to passivate defects and contaminants in a range of new cheaper forms of silicon to bring down the overall cost of solar. 

UNSW Blockchain Interest Group 

The Bitcoin cryptocurrency composes a number of ideas -- the blockchain data structure, a distributed consensus protocol, and a notion of "smart contract" (code enforcing legal terms) -- into the first successful real-world deployment of a cryptocurrency. It is being increasingly realised that these underlying ideas are separable from Bitcoin, and, in a variety of combinations, variations and extensions, are broadly applicable to a range of applications including financial services infrastructure, legal automation, provenance (e.g., of agricultural products), supply chain management, international trade and health informatics. The emerging infrastructure for these applications is also known as "Distributed Ledger Technology". The UNSW Interest Group in Blockchain, Smart Contracts and Cryptocurrency is an interdisciplinary group of staff from across the university, including Computer Science, Law and Business, with interests in this new area of technology and its technical, legal, business and societal implications. See


LoyaltyX and UNSW have partnered to launch a world-first blockchain loyalty research project, giving students an opportunity to earn Ether cryptocurrency at the checkout of participating merchants simply by scanning a barcode in their digital wallet. (Ether is a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, but built on the Ethereum network).

Shoppers are becoming disengaged with traditional loyalty programs which generally offer little value, especially big coalition programs which tend to devalue points over time.  Offering a Digital or Cryptocurrency solves the core challenges faced by these programs by delivering a currency which can be converted into any fiat currency including $AUD and used anywhere; one which never expires and one that has the potential to increase in value over time as demand increases.  

The revolutionary program will give members access to the dynamic frontier of cryptocurrency with no risk or investment required. 

UNSW students and staff can earn $5 of Ether for every ten transactions they make across eleven campus retailers, including Boost Juice and IGA, as part of the Unify Rewards program.      Visit for details

NSW Smart Sensing Network – Physical and Chemical Sensing 

The NSW Smart Sensing Network has been set up as a portal for industry, government and researchers to collaborate on sensing related activities. The NSSN seeks to grow its portfolio of sensing projects benefitting end-users. With world leading capability in chemical and physical sensing, combined with a network of resources including data analytics and state-of-the-art engineering, the NSSN has been designed to work with partners in life sciences, agriculture, the environment, manufacturing, extraction and industrial processes, so end users can improve systems, overcome bottlenecks and create opportunities that harness the best available sensing science and technology.

The NSSN is an initiative of the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer, with founding members the University of Sydney and UNSW, now branching out across universities and companies to meet the needs of end users. 

Contextual language and cultural learning in Virtual Reality

V-KAIWA is a language and cultural learning provider that moves away from traditional textbooks

and rote language learning approaches to one that contextualizes learning through virtual reality (VR) to connect learners with native speakers to develop their conversational language skills in English and other languages.

Virtual Reality provides accelerated learning; use of kinesthetic, visual and auditory senses develops higher cognitive skills, cultural immersion; directly engaging with the subject matter through interactive experiences and higher engagement; which is incentivised through gamified assessments.

Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning

We can showcase some of the current deep learning research projects in our group - applying reinforcement learning, gradient based methods and evolutionary algorithms to video games, control tasks, knowledge extraction and image processing.


Brien Holden Vision Institute

Myopia has become a global problem. The amount of people that are affected by myopia is rising fast. There are 1.7 billion myopes globally and this is predicted to raise to 2.2 billion by 2050, which is 50% of the total world population. Prevalence of myopia in developed Asian countries for children that completed high school ranges from 80% to 90%. Elsewhere, countries such as US are also recording an increasing prevalence, doubling since the 1970s, and now affecting over 42% of the adult population.

Increased economic and technology development and more intensive school system are bound to have an impact on children’s visual system. They are getting myopia at younger age and this will increase their likelihood of getting sight threatening eye disease due to the fast progressing myopia. This technology, both the contact lenses and the spectacles can help control the advancement of Myopia.

A myopia control product that can slow the progression of myopia will reduce the number of high myopes, and thus reduce the number of people at risk of associated sight threatening conditions.

The team at the Brien Holden Institute have found that both the retinal periphery and the global retinal image quality plays a significant role in development and progression of all refractive errors and especially of myopia. These findings gave rise to the hypothesis, and key intellectual property, that myopia progression can be reduced.

Precision data integration tool for a friction free agronomic workflow

The “data conversion tool” uses open source geospatial information systems to convert multi spectral data, captured by UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), to shapefiles for variable rate agricultural management zone.

As it stands there is a gap in the transfer of technology from remote sensing to the ag sector, this tool allows for a seamless workflow to create greater efficiencies in inputs while producing better yields and reducing the impact on the environment. 

Torch Innovation Precinct at UNSW

Torch Innovation Precinct at UNSW is an initiative modelled on the successful Chinese innovation ecosystem. It will bring together industry partners including SMEs, entrepreneurs, investors and policy makers from around the world to our campus in Sydney.

A high-level Memorandum of Understanding was signed between UNSW and the Torch High Technology Industry Development Centre witnessed by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at a special ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on 14th April 2016 that UNSW will be home of the first Torch Innovation Precinct outside China. During his visit to Australia in March 2017, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said “The Torch Innovation Precinct at UNSW has become a beacon of bilateral cooperation and investment in innovation and entrepreneurship”

Beijing OriginWater Technology Co. Ltd. (BOW)

Beijing OriginWater Technology Co., Ltd. (BOW) is a high-tech enterprise located in Beijing, China. BOW utilizes its innovative spirit in becoming a leading thinker in the Chinese environmental protection industry while focusing on the major three drivers of innovation: technological innovation, business model innovation, and management systems innovation. BOW has built Asia’s largest Membrane production and research center in Beijing’s Huairou District. The core technologies developed at this center are all independently developed and wholly owned intellectual property of BOW. These membrane technologies include: microfiltration (MF), ultrafiltration (UF), nanofiltration (DF), reverse osmosis (RO), membrane bioreactor (MBR), membrane bioreactor + nanofiltration (MBR+DF), compact wastewater treatment (CWT) and integrated urban wastewater purification membrane technology. This center can annually produce ten million square meters of MF and UF membranes, six million square meters of DF and RO membranes and one million units of water purification equipment. Accounting for over 70% of China’s membrane water treatment market, BOW processes nearly 20 million tons of water per day, and produces nearly seven billion tons of high quality recycled water for the nation every year.

In order to accelerate the growth of water treatment technology BOW has established and constructed many academic partnerships and R&D centers such as building an academician expert workstation, a postdoctoral workstation and a national engineering technology Center. BOW has jointly established R&D centers with Tsinghua University, and established BOW – UNSW Research Initiative. BOW also founded the projects in the first Torch Innovation Park outside of China, the Torch Innovation Park of the University of New South Wales in Australia. BOW has contributed the MBR technology application data to support the global distinguished book -- The MBR Book.

Abundant Natural Health – from Greenhouse to Gorgeous

ANH combines Sydney University’s plant breeding expertise with cutting edge extraction technologies and chemical analysis from University of NSW. At the University of Sydney Plant Breeding Institute, we develop new vegetable varieties to be high in sought after botanical ingredients. We then work with the University of NSW School of Chemical Engineering to develop the best method of extracting the active ingredients from the plants without damaging the delicate structures that make them effective. UNSW provides chemical analysis of the extracts, providing additional insights that feed back into the breeding program. This unique dual collaboration has a multiplier effect, expanding our IP generation and introducing a wide range of potential applications of plant derived products. 

First product - Tomato Infusion Daily Face Cream 

Our foundational product is a face cream that repairs, heals and soothes.  The face is the focal point for skin creams. From teens to septuagenarians, the ability to make facial skin appear noticeably more vibrant and healthy, and hold back the years, is desired by woman and men alike.  Following product trials and an evaluation survey, Tomato Infusion was launched in April 2017. It is currently selling in selected Australian pharmacies and online, and online in China.