Energy efficiency ripe for Australian innovation


Energy efficiency has been identified as a major growth area for Australian tech companies at the Federal Government’s Innovation Australia Showcase.


Held earlier this week at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the event highlighted the innovative products and services of 15 Australian companies, including StartupSmart Top 50 business AquaGen Technologies.


The event was attended by 350 representatives from businesses, universities and government in order to demonstrate the links between innovation, productivity and Australia’s competitiveness in global markets.


Each of the 15 companies has been working in partnership with government through programs including AusIndustry, Enterprise Connect, Commercialisation Australia and the Cooperative Research Centres.


According to Innovation Minister Kim Carr, Australia is emerging as a world leader in commercialising cleaner, more efficient products and technologies, citing AquaGen as an example.


Founded in 2009, AquaGen is an eco-conscious company specialising in solutions to deliver renewable ocean energy using key technology known as SurgeDrive.


SurgeDrive is a wave energy system which can harness the energy of ocean waves to produce electricity or desalinated water, and is already generating electricity at AquaGen’s first demonstration site in Australia.


In addition to making the StartupSmart Top 50 for 2011, recognising the country’s fastest-growing start-ups, AquaGen Technologies also won the Best Start-up Product at the 2011 StartupSmart Awards.


AquaGen co-founder Nick Boyd says the company aims to accelerate the transition from fossil fuel-based energy to emissions-free, renewable energy using its SurgeDrive technology.


“We have developed a technology which looks set to reduce the cost of converting the ocean’s waves into electricity to compete for the first time with wind and solar power – the energy of the ocean is vast and hence so is our market potential,” Boyd told StartupSmart.


Other eco-conscious companies commended by Senator Carr at the Innovation Showcase include Indice EcoTech and MicroHeat Technologies.


Indice EcoTech has produced a device that increases the efficiency of power controls while MicroHeat’s water heating system helps cut water and energy use for businesses and households.


“Our manufacturers can make the energy-efficient, clean and green goods that customers demand. These innovative companies are contributing to the ideal of a healthier Australia, and making it possible to export our green technology globally,” Carr said.


Austrade spokesperson Grame Barty says there is a huge level of interest in water and energy management as companies seek to address their environmental impact, and Australia is perceived to be a leader in this area.


Speaking at the Innovation Showcase, Innovation Australia chairman David Miles says in order to capture global markets, Australian businesses need to adopt best practice in technology and management, with focus on value-added products and services.


“There will be opportunities for cost-reducing innovation across all sectors of the economy in the battle to generate lower emissions,” he said.


Miles made special mention of the Innovation Investment Fund, designed to boost Australia’s venture capital market and save businesses from the so-called “cash flow valley of death”.