21 July 2004

Hi-Tech canary not cheap - QLD Courier Mail

A BRISBANE-based company developing a "modern-day canary" which detects poisonous gases for underground workers is to share in $65 million worth of research and development grants.

Seven Queensland companies are to get a slice of the federal government funds to be announced today by Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane at App-Tek International at Brendale in the Pine Rivers Shire north of Brisbane .

The company is pioneering the development in Australia of a specialist air-monitoring device. Next year it hopes to begin exporting to the US and Europe .

About the size of a soft drink can, the detection device is a lifesaver for those working in confined spaces where deadly gases are trapped such as coal mines, sewers and wheat silos.

"That's basically what this unit is, a modern-day version of the old canary for miners," said App-Tek administration director Rod Day.

The OdaLog 6000 multi-gas device was initially developed in 2001 after the company received about $500,000 in research and development funding.

It will get a further $421,258 grant in this round to refine the device ahead of an export push.

The device can gauge six gases, monitoring oxygen levels, methane, carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulfide.

It clips on to the belt of miners or underground workers and when gas levels reach danger levels it triggers flashing lights and an alarm.

App-Tek director of sales and marketing, Ross Church said research and development funding was crucial because "it's about getting the confidence that somebody believes in you and it helps you get momentum".

Mr Macfarlane said innovation was a proven driver of economic growth.

"Innovate and prosper which is why we run a whole suite of programs helping Australian companies turn smart ideas into smart products," Mr Macfarlane said.

In this round of grants, $65 million goes to 52 projects nationwide, and $8.6 million is earmarked for seven Queensland developments.

These include:

 Agen Biomedical at Brisbane 's Acacia Ridge $1.1 million to develop a new therapy for the treatment of deep-vein thrombosis.

 Braintree Communications in South Brisbane $1.7 million to develop a platform for banking to be done over mobile telephones.

 Genetraks in Toowong, Brisbane $1 million to develop a gene-based tool for diagnosing disorders in race horses.

 Glykoz Pty Ltd at Nerang, Gold Coast $1.8 million to aid its development of a carbohydrate-based antibiotic for clinical trial.

 Mackay-based MOWECS $392,268 to develop a platform to put under wharves and jetties for painting and maintenance.

 RTU net ( Australia ), on the Sunshine Coast $1.9 million to develop next-generation data-acquisition software products.



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