The winners from the Tech23 business innovation award were announced yesterday. The 23 game-changing tech companies are helping solve some of the world’s most pressing problems by harnessing deep-tech.
From an AI pancreas able to transform unstable diabetes to chemical-free pest management and everything in-between, the 23 blossoming Australian tech startups are working to make the world a better place.
The awards, now in their 13th year, celebrate Australia’s young, high growth deep-tech startups that have the potential to better the world. Tech23 is a national forum, bringing together companies from across the country.
The awards are sponsored by Transport NSW, Main Sequence, AusIndustry Entrepreneurs’ Programme delivered in partnership with i4 Connect, AWS Startups, Addisons, ASX, ANSTO, Curtin University, Cicada Innovations and evokeAG.
This year’s winners were announced in a booklet released by the Slatts Group, which organise the awards. Rachel Slattery, Director of Slatts group, wrote on how vital support for Australia’s deep-tech startups is and how much interest they inspire from the Australian public.
She wrote, “It has been interesting to see how people light up when they hear these stories – of clever Australians doing things in labs and precincts all around the country and increasingly overseas.
“Entrepreneurs, researchers and inventors who set out to chip away at big challenges that will help us find better ways to feed, heal, power and work. They deserve our respect – and our gratitude. And hats off to anyone who is helping them too!”
While all 23 companies are deserving of their own story, it is worth highlighting a few of the winners and the impact of their groundbreaking tech.
Atmo Biosciences is a digital health business. Its team has developed the world’s first ingestible, gas-sensing capsule for monitoring the health of the human gut and its microbiome.
Atmo’s gas-sensing capsules have the power to change the lives of gastrointestinal disorder sufferers, leading to earlier relief of symptoms and improved healthcare outcomes for millions worldwide.
Malcolm Hebblewhite, Co-founder and CEO of Atmo Biosciences, said that for him, success looks like, “Commercialising a medical device that improves quality of life for the millions of sufferers of common GI conditions, and demystifying microbiome function by opening up a window and shining a light on what is the black box of gut physiology.”
FiberSense is an Aussie-founded deep-tech scaleup repurposing existing telco Fiber Optic cables in the ground, allowing them to act as a vibration sensor networks to detect and give insights into all movement/vibration in the urban environment.
The tech developed by FiberSense is bringing the power of massive-scale sensing to make people safer, reduce emissions and make cities work better.
Mark Englund, Founder, and inventor of FiberSense’s technology, said, “We are very grateful to the corporate innovators and allies who have supported FiberSense’s early growth.
“By acting as early adopters and reference customers, they have been a vital part of our development and in return have received game-changing sensing insights that are helping their organisations as they show other utilities and cities what is possible with FiberSense.”
HydGene Renewables are synthetic biologists and engineers working to revolutionise the way chemicals, such as hydrogen, a clean fuel that will enable the world to reach a net zero-carbon emissions target, are produced.
HydGene has created a biocatalyst solution that generates carbon-neutral and high purity hydrogen from renewable biomass such as straw and sugarcane.
Separating them from other hydrogen technologies is the fact they can produce hydrogen on-site and on-demand, eliminating the challenges for hydrogen storage and transport.
Louise Brown, Founder, and CEO of HydGene, said, “Achieving global net-zero targets requires industries to decarbonise. Hydrogen will play a key role if low-cost clean hydrogen can be produced at scale. While cheap green hydrogen is on the horizon, it then must be moved and stored, often adding up to 80% or more to the final cost for the end-user!
“Our low cost and safe solution to this challenge is to produce clean hydrogen on-site and when it’s needed.”
MGA Thermal technology is a newly invented thermal storage material, Miscibility Gap Alloys (MGA). These alloys can store a massive amount of energy as heat in a safe and easy to use way.
MGA Thermal technology will improve the electrical grid’s stability, residential and commercial space heating, industrial process/waste heat, and even electric vehicles.
Erich Kisi, CEO of MGA Thermal, said, “We are solving the problem of how to firm and dispatch renewable energy on demand by providing an affordable, scalable, medium duration energy storage solution.
“This helps renewable energy generators by creating a market in times of oversupply of renewables, manufacturing companies by providing a source of firmed thermal energy from renewable sources and thermal power station asset owners by enabling retro-fit.”
Psylo is Australia’s first psychedelic biotech startup. They count themselves among a small but growing international cohort of companies developing new medicines based on first-generation psychedelics.
By exploring derivatives of psilocybin and other tryptamines, they aim to develop an entirely new class of mental illness medications.
Joshua Ismin, Founder of Psylo, said, “Since the 1980s, big pharma has been underinvesting in solutions to mental illness – there’s been a reported 70% decrease in neuropsychiatric drug development and research programmes in the last decade.
“New medications in the next decade will make SSRI medications obsolete, and we want to be a part of developing these solutions.”
RapidAIM Bio-digital crop protection sells area-wide pest analytics to CPCs so that they can deliver precision pest management products and services to their grower customers.
RapidAIM will help crop protection companies (CPCs) under increasing pressure to help growers reduce their use of chemical pesticides.
Tracking and detecting pest insects in real-time provides assurance, increases adoption by growers and improves the supply and distribution of products for more efficient and sustainable management of pests.
Nancy Schellhorn, Co-founder, Co-inventor, and CEO of RapidAIM, said what makes her team unique is their “Diverse thinking. Our team consists of a unique combination of entomologists, biologists, and engineers (hardware, firmware, software, and machine learning) as well as business and commercialisation skills to solve a global problem.”