Home Articles Victorian Technology Profiles Feb/Mar 07

    Victorian Technology Profiles Feb/Mar 07


    The path from start-up to success story can be a challenging journey. These two Victorian innovators are taking the path less travelled, turning good ideas into profitable international businesses, and they’re not looking back!

    Supply chain keeps its cool

    It’s a common scenario in the transport industry. The supplier loads a perishable order onto a refrigerated truck and considers the job done. However, as the cargo moves along the cold supply chain, the load can be delayed, the fridge might malfunction, and sometimes cargo goes missing. The end result: an unhappy customer and a supplier none the wiser.

    Melbourne-based cold supply chain e-business solutions company Exago offers an alternative. Exago brings together innovative technologies, like radio-frequency ID, global positioning systems, cellular communication networks and the internet, to create unique tracking and monitoring systems for the distribution of perishable products.

    Exago Managing Director Michael White says communication is key.

    “We are driven by the question: how do we find out more about what’s going on through the cold supply chain? Our company provides real time information to all stakeholders in the supply chain,� he says.

    Exago’s focus is the road transport sector, an important link in any supply chain, particularly in a vast country like Australia.

    “Our system monitors the temperature in the rear of a refrigerated trailer. If it goes out of specification, an email or text message is sent to the trucking company, indicating if the door is open or closed, the status of the refrigeration system – fuel and battery level, any alarms generated – all in real time,� says White.

    Each client is different, so Exago’s solutions are tailor-made using a range of components and software.

    “It’s not a product in a box. Each transport company has a different idea of what’s important. We collect a variety of data, and then report it in the most meaningful way for the client. We’re information brokers,� says White.

    The company has registered process patents worldwide and is currently negotiating a licensing agreement with a major US-based firm.


    Tea time leaves solvent high and dry

    It’s a tedious job for the organic chemist, but an integral step in most reactions: the dehydration of the non-polar solvent after an aqueous work up. To the lay person, this means removing the water from a solvent by adding a drying agent.

    However, the drying agent then needs to be removed by passing the solvent through a filter. This process takes between five and ten minutes and, in the average laboratory, is performed three or more times a day.

    Kye Masters, organic chemist and now Director of MIPOS Technologies, was fed-up with the process.

    “I was in the lab filtering something off. You have to pour the liquid in and wait while it slowly drips through. Then you pour some more in. I was bored waiting, so I made a cup of tea,� he says.

    As Masters jiggled the teabag, inspiration struck. He cut open a fresh teabag and replaced the contents with the drying agent. Initial tests revealed that dipping the teabag into the solvent worked as effectively as the traditional method, was quicker and required less effort.

    Masters had his patent attorneys register the idea and, seeing potential for other applications, he teamed up with four colleagues to form Melbourne-based MIPOS Technologies.

    The prototype was refined and tested in Australian laboratories, generating an overwhelmingly positive response. MIPOS is currently exploring applications in the industrial chemical processing arena as well as the petroleum industry, where high water content in fuels requires costly dehydration.

    “We are discussing licensing arrangements with a US firm for synthetic chemistry applications,� says Masters.

    The company is also seeking investment and development partners for other territories and applications.


    IP Australia will be relocating to Innovation @ 257, Level 1, 257 Collins Street, Melbourne shortly ……


    Two For The Road editorial is sponsored by the Victorian Government.