Home Articles SMART 100 (2009) profiles – Top 10

SMART 100 (2009) profiles – Top 10


Anthill’s ‘SMART 100′ Index was developed in 2008 to identify and rank Australia’s 100 most innovative products, proving to be one of the largest surveys of its kind in Australia.


And the winner is…

1. Fermiscan Breast Cancer Test

FermiscanCompany: Fermiscan Pty Ltd

Headquarters: Sydney, NSW


Approximately one in eleven Australian women will develop breast cancer at some stage in their lifetime. Over 12,000 new cases are detected each year in Australia and about 2,700 Australian women die from breast cancer each year.

In the battle against breast cancer, as with other cancers, early detection is a matter of life and death. So it is exciting news that Australian company Fermiscan is in the process of commercialising a world-first, simple and non-invasive breast cancer screening technology for women of all ages.


Australian scientists discovered that the presence of breast cancer in women is associated with a change in the molecular structure of hair. They did this by analysing the diffraction patterns of hair fibres exposed to synchrotron-generated X-rays. They observed the change as a diffuse ring superimposed on the normal alpha-keratin diffraction pattern of hair.

Pre-clinical and further clinical studies indicated that the method was very accurate and may detect early tumour development. Fermiscan subsequently acquired the patent rights and confirmed the underlying discovery.


First, a general practitioner takes a sample of the woman’s scalp hairs that are free of treatments such as dyes and perms for period of at least four weeks prior to collection. These hairs are then exposed to an X-ray beam produced in a synchrotron (a football field-sized particle accelerator which produces intense light). The resulting diffraction pattern is scrutinised for the ring associated with breast cancer.

The result is a new method for screening and diagnosing breast cancer and monitoring treatment outcomes and metastatic spread. The Fermiscan test is easy, painless and non-invasive. It is suitable for all types of breast compositions, can be initiated by a general practitioner and offers an adjunct to current screening options. In short, it’s a huge breakthrough.

Current screening generally includes a combination of self/clinical examinations, and imaging technologies where appropriate. There is currently no easy way to monitor treatment outcomes or metastatic spread.

In January 2008, Fermiscan was named the ‘Innovator of the Year’ at Austrade’s G’Day USA Innovation Shootout competition held in New York City.

The test will be progressively made available internationally once regulatory approval has been obtained in the identified markets, including Europe, Japan and North America.

A breathtaking innovation with the potential to save thousands of lives, the Fermiscan Breast Cancer Test wowed our mavens and is a worthy winner of Anthill’s inaugural Smart 100 Awards.

2. FreeTrekka Replacement Wheelchair Wheel

Company: Jacob Grech Design

Headquarters: Sydney, NSW

One of the things that separate successful product innovations from other inventions is their capacity to improve people’s lives. The FreeTrekka Replacement Wheelchair Wheel is an impressive example.

Developed by Jacob Grech as his final project for his bachelors of industrial design at University of Western Sydney, the FreeTrekka Replacement Wheelchair Wheel enables standard user-propelled wheelchair users to ascend and descend stairs unassisted, as well as travel over soft ground and even sand.

Grech spent a week in a wheelchair, attempting to go about his normal life in a built up environment, catching public transport and the like. He video-documented the experience and found himself constantly faced with stairs and roadside gutters that are impassable for almost all wheelchair users.

The FreeTrekka Replacement Wheelchair Wheel functions as a wheel, but when required to climb/descend stairs, the ‘tyre’ is stretched 150 percent of its original size by a pair of retractable arms/rollers, which fold out of each of wheel. It features reduction gearing, which allows users to propel themselves in any situation using solely muscle power. Batteries power the roller-arm deployment, ratchet and levelling mechanism. The innovation, contained entirely within a pair of replacement wheelchair wheels, can be retrofitted to most standard wheelchair frames.

Other full replacement wheelchairs that can ascend and descend stairs unassisted cost $20,000-$30,000. The estimated retail cost for the pair of Freetrekka wheels is $2,000-$3,000, proving much more affordable for individuals relying on disability support payments.

3. Bionomics Limited Product: BNC105

bioCompany: Bionomics Limited

Headquarters: Adelaide, SA


Curing cancer is the Holy Grail of medicine. While we’re not there quite yet, Adelaide-based Bionomics Limited is blazing a promising new trail on the tumour treatment front.

The company’s in-house chemistry team isolated a compound – BNC105 – that acts to shut down blood supply to cancer tumours, starving the tumour of nutrients. BBC105 represents a new method to attack cancer tumours and initial tests indicate that cancer cells appear unable to become resistant to BNC105.

The method promises reduced side-effects and faster treatment over conventional chemotherapy, which flushes the blood supply of a patient and effectively kills many cells – both cancerous and non-cancerous. BNC105, which is a Vascular Disruption Agent, acts specifically on the tumour while leaving the healthy cells alone.

In January 2008, Bionomics initiated Phase 1 human clinical trials of BNC105, in line with US FDA regulation. The company is anticipating that BNC105 will be ready for manufacture and sale to the world market within seven years and is hoping to partner with a major pharmaceutical company to expedite this process.

4. Snapit Ampoule Opener

snapitCompany: River Logic Pty Ltd

Headquarters: Brisbane, QLD


The best product ideas are very often developed when someone encounters a specific problem for which there is an inadequate or no solution in the market.

Glen Riverstone was worked as a registered nurse in a hospital emergency room for nine months after graduating from university. In the heat of a busy resuscitation, he cut himself opening a glass ampoule containing adrenaline. He did some research and discovered that glass ampoules are one of the leading causes of medical sharps injuries. After cutting himself twice more, and finding no adequate safety solution, he told a colleague, “I should invent something to open those silly ampoules and retire!” Nine months later, he made his first sale.

The Snapit Ampoule Opener (SAO) reduces the risk and occurrence of sharps injuries from glass ampoules in the medical, cosmetic, diagnostic and veterinarian industries. It does this by eliminating the need to handle glass ampoules when snapping them open. A silicone ‘O’ ring housed inside a cylindrical tube expands and then locks onto the glass ampoule lid. The lid can then be levered off. It remains secured until ejected by the user using a spring forced plunger that runs through the cylindrical body.

The SAO is reusable, making it cost-effective – it doesn’t need to be replaced very often and also reduces the incidence of injury to medical staff. And protection from a cut means protection from the risk of blood born infection and contamination

In Australian hospitals alone an estimated 10,000,000+ ampoules are opened each year. The SAO is now being exported to 10 countries, with further expansion planned.

5. TummyShield

TummyShieldCompany: Tummy Shield Company Pty Ltd

Headquarters: Taren Point, NSW


It wasn’t so long ago that people didn’t wear seat belts, and no one thought much of it. A sustained public education campaign built public awareness, changed habits and significantly reduced the incidence of death and serious injury resulting from motor vehicle accidents.

However, seat belts cause an additional problem for pregnant women. The belt may prevent them flying through the windscreen, but the resulting abdominal bruising can injure the unborn child or even cause miscarriage.

George Baladi was travelling by car with his pregnant wife when the car had to stop suddenly. “She had some bruising on her tummy from the seat belt,” says Baladi. “Our baby seemed normal at birth, but we quickly realised something was wrong. We conducted many tests and visited several specialists. The answer was the same – that our baby had sustained some kind of brain injury. When we told the neuro-specialist about the incident, his reply was, ‘That probably did it.'”

Baladi began work to find a solution to this common and serious problem. The result? The Tummy Shield, which directs the pressure exerted by the seat belt away from the abdomen to the hips and thigh area in the event of a collision or sudden braking. It gives pregnant women the confidence to wear a seat belt.

The Tummy Shield has been exhibited in a Chinese exhibition and Baladi has assigned agents in the USA, Canada, UK and NZ.

It’s another remarkably simple idea, and more evidence that the best product innovations are developed by people who have endured a pain personally and want to spare others from similar inconvenience or hardship.

6. Portable Retinal Camera

retinalCompany: Vision Instruments

Headquarters: Hobart, TAS


It is a sad reality that millions of people around the world still contract serious diseases that are preventable. This is especially the case in remote areas and in the developing world, where basic diagnostic screening and early treatment are largely absent.

Most eye diseases, when caught early, are curable. But if left undiagnosed, they often lead to partial or complete blindness.

Tasmanian company Vision Instruments (VI) responded to a call by Professor Hugh Taylor for the development of a low-cost portable retinal camera to help reduce loss of sight from preventable eye disease worldwide. The resulting camera makes it easier to capture digital images of the eye retina for screening for eye disease. It is half the size and weight of existing cameras and is “ruggedised” to survive transport and use in remote areas and the developing world. It also features automatic focusing to facilitate use by inexperienced para-medic staff.

VI is trying to minimise the selling price of the camera by direct marketing and through creative teaming arrangements with providers in the developing world. The point is to provide access to these cameras for as many communities in need as possible. After it has consolidated its position in the Australasian market, VI is looking at exporting its Portable Retinal Camera to India and the rest of the developing world.

7. Prepaid – Call Credits NEVER Expire

Company: Savvytel

Headquarters: Sydney, NSW


A majority of Australian mobile phone users are on pre-paid plans – they buy phone credits before they use them. To cash in, the big telcos implemented a system where call credits expire after a determined period of time (for instance, at the end of each month rather than rolling over).

So Savvytel created a point of difference and began offering call credits that don’t expire (until you use them). It’s a simple innovation, but an effective one. Consumers get what they pay for, whenever they choose to use it. Obviously, a favourite with our mavens.

8. Mediseus Temporal Bone Simulator

mediusCompany: Medic Vision

Headquarters: Melbourne, VIC


How temporal bone drilling is taught to surgical residents is probably not something most people spend time contemplating. However, when you understand how this has been done traditionally, the value of the Mediseus Temporal Bone Simulator becomes immediately apparent.

Drilling on temporal bone (located near the human brain) is currently taught using expensive bone specimens from cadavers or on real patients. Neither option provides thorough, risk-free training. Cadavers are costly and usually in short supply, while patient-based learning interjects an element of risk and malpractice concerns.

To overcome this difficulty, Medic Vision developed the Mediseus Temporal Bone Simulator, software and hardware technology using haptics (touch-enabling technology, also called force feedback) to simulate the feeling of the drilling procedure used in traditional surgery. This is combined with a 3D virtual microscope and curriculum modules, designed with the help of surgeons.

The simulator allows students to practice an unlimited number of times and be skill-tested in a controlled, repeatable virtual reality environment. The user receives a report of progress for each completed simulation session, meaning it can also be used to competency test trained surgeons.

9. Glow in the dark evacuation system

Glowing ExitCompany: Skycore Group (trading as Allure Glow)

Headquarters: Melbourne, VIC


Prominent terrorist attacks in recent years have led many organisations to reconsider their evacuation procedures. Everyone has seen the harrowing images of people trapped in burning buildings on 9/11 or of the London commuters struggling to find their way above ground following the Underground bombings in 2005.

Aware of this new reality, Skycore Group developed an evacuation system – Allure Glow – which consists of a number of products that can be used individually or collectively to provide a guidance path to safety, illuminating the way without the assistance of power.

Allure Glow emits its own light via the stimulation of the molecules when exposed to a light source and or heat. During the day, or when the objects are exposed to UV or ambient light, they are charged and the electrons become excited and the energy is converted into light. Products include stair treads, house numbers, signs, tapes, paint, just to name a few.

Previous glow products were produced either by using radioactive material or by combining two chemicals together. The glow that these two methods produced were not only detrimental to health but also only lasted a short period of time. Allure Glow products are safe, environmentally-friendly and produce a glow that can be visible in excess of 18 hours.

The market for Allure Glow is enormous. It’s suitable for every conceivable environment and has the added benefit of being environmentally friendly, making it an easy OHS choice at a time when organisations are looking for effective green alternatives.

10. Cone-HeadTM


Cone HeadCompany: Cone-Head Technology

Headquarters: Brisbane, QLD


The inspiration for Cone-Head technology came in 1992 when Donald Morgan picked up his daughter’s helmet and pressed his thumb into the foam liner of the helmet. He couldn’t leave an impression in the foam – the foam liner was as hard as brick. It just so happened that Morgan had spent the 1980s as a helmet researcher, so he was uniquely qualified to design a new and improved inner helmet liner.

He devised an innovation that incorporates low-density foam cones within the thickness of the high-density foam liner, which enables the shock-absorbing foam liners in helmets to absorb an impact force more effectively.

Basically, the cone-headTM liner to acts like a crumple zone around the head. On impact, the cones will initially crush or compress, allowing the liner to absorb an impact force more effectively when compared with single-density hard foam liners in helmets. The initial crushing helps to reduce the deceleration of the head.

In the past, if helmet manufacturers softened the liners in helmets to absorb an impact more effectively, the helmets didn’t pass safety standards. Embedding low-density cones within the thickness of the high-density foam allows the licensed manufacturer to soften the liners in helmets to produce a safer helmet and also meet standards.

Morgan’s cone-headTM technology won national acclaim when it was named the 2007 Grand Final winner of ABC television’s New Inventors show. The technology has since been licensed by a major overseas helmet manufacturer – Strategic Sports Limited based in Hong Kong.

>> Smart 100 profiles – 11-20