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have become synonymous with
Australia’s innovation history.
Inventor and surgeon Professor Graeme
Clark put the first implant into patient
Rod Saunders in 1978. Since then,
plastiCs rule our daily
lives but they are often made
from petrochemicals linked
to environmental damage. With
the urgency to find degradable,
non-polluting alternatives, Plantic
Technologies is emerging as
a key player in the market.
Plantic Technologies uses
starch derived from corn – a
renewable source material – which
is heated and put through a chemical
modification process called
hydroxypropylation to plasticise it.
“ The new material consists
of a sandwich of corn-based
product between two thin layers
of recyclable plastics, which
results in a product with ultra-high
gas-barrier film performance and
increased shelf life for meat, fish and
dairy,” says CEO Brendan Morris.
The company is now one of Australia’s
innovation success stories, having set up
resin, film and sheet bio-manufacturing
plants in Melbourne and Jena, Germany,
backed by an R&D investment of
more than $2 million per year.
It’s been a long process since the
CRC spin-off company was formed
in 2001, with several capital raisings
and a listing on the London Stock
Exchange in 2007 before privatisation
in 2010. Sales have been doubling
since 2012, thanks to new products.
Coles supermarkets have adopted
the range for their meat and dairy
trays, as have Profish Food in the
Netherlands, California’s Excelline
Foods, and Multivac in New Zealand.
The crucial point about Plantic’s
eco-plastic range is that its trays and
sheets can be directly substituted for
traditional materials in the supply chain.
Although most of their products feed
into supply chains in Australia and New
Zealand, the company’s sights are set on
America, as well as new Japanese and
Korean retailer channels. “ We’re certainly
not finished yet and we are working
towards a fully biodegradable version
of eco plastic,” says Morris.
Green and clean
leading the revolution
At a glance: Established in 2001,
Plantic Technologies is a bioplastics
manufacturing spin-off from the CRC
for International Food Manufacture
and Packaging Science. It now
employs more than 100 people.
Name: Plantic Technologies
R&D: >$2 million/year
Reach: Europe, USA, New
Zealand, plans for Asia
At a glance: Listed in 1995, Cochlear
Limited is one of Australia’s most
celebrated advanced manufacturing
success stories. It employs 2700
people in 25 countries with
manufacturing sites in Sydney,
Sweden, Belgium and the US.
Name: Cochlear Limited
R&D: $500 million in
5 years (to 2014)
Reach: Africa, Europe, USA,
Middle East, Asia-Pacific
as of 2012
Cochlear – the company that
commercialised the cochlear implant
has been developing hearing
products that improve the lives
of hundreds of thousands of
children and adults worldwide.
Today, Cochlear maintains
its market competitiveness
with aggressive R&D,
research arrangements with
100 universities, and a strong
leadership team. CRC partners
have also helped maintain Cochlear’s
position as world leader in implantable
technology. For example, the Contour
Advance Electrode array is now fitted
to more cochlear implant patients
worldwide than any other electrode
design in the history of the field.
In return, the CRCs have gained access
to a world-leading industry partner, and
have helped contribute a value to Cochlear
of approximately $120 million.
In April 2013, the CRC and Cochlear
relationship entered a new era: the
Australian Hearing Hub (AHH) at
Macquarie University officially opened
with an inaugural symposium managed
by the HEARing CRC. The AHH
will provide the CRC with a Sydney
base, as well as access to new facilities,
including the world’s only
(MEG) that can be used with cochlear
implant users to explore hearing centres
in the brain, and how they adapt to
cochlear implant hearing sensations.
They have also developed a new 3D,
real-world acoustic test environment.
“ This is a sensational example of
what can be done through partnership,”
says Associate Professor Jim Patrick,
Chief Scientist at Cochlear Limited.
“ The potential impact for hearing
health from this innovation worldwide
is enormous.” – Paul Hendy
Electrode is fitted
to patients around
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