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Seven Australian innovators have been presented with AVALON 2019 Innovation Awards worth some $45,000 by the Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon. Steve Ciobo MP. The winners include an SME whose Sapphire Crystal clock has ‘fast-forwarded’ Defence’s Jindalee radar upgrade by 20 years and a young innovator using 3-D printing technology to build extremely complex rocket motor nozzles that will reduce space launch costs by up to 25%.

The Minister also presented the three Innovation Pitchfest Prizes today, for Best Innovation, Best Pitch and Most Relevant to the Aerospace Domain.

The Innovation Awards program was created by Aerospace Australia Limited, organiser of AVALON 2019 – the Australian International Air Show and Aerospace and Defence Exposition. The Innovation Pitchfest is organised by the Defence Science Institute at the University of Melbourne. The first Innovation Awards were presented six years ago at Avalon 2013 and since then some $350,000-worth of SME Innovation Grants and Young Innovator Awards have been presented.

The Awards and Pitchfest prizes were presented on Wednesday 27 February in a ceremony at the Avalon 2019 Theatrette. The winners are:

  • AVALON 2019 National Civil Innovation Award: InnovAero Pty Limited (WA)
  • AVALON 2019 National Defence Innovation Award: Defence Innovations Pty Limited (VIC)
  • AVALON 2019 Defence SME Innovation Grant ($15,000): Cryoclock Pty Limited (SA)
  • AVALON 2019 Young Civil Innovator Award ($15,000): Mr Graham Bell, Monash University & NextAero Pty Limited (VIC)
  • AVALON 2019 Young Defence Innovator Award ($15,000): Mr Jimmy Toton, RMIT University and DMTC Limited (VIC)
  • AVALON 2019 Innovation Award for Space Operations and Technology: Inovor technologies Pty Limited (SA)
  • AVALON 2019 Innovation Award for Autonomous and Unmanned Systems and ISR: Cryoclock Pty Limited
  • AVALON 2019 Innovation Award for Training: Toll Helicopters, The ACE Training Centre
  • AVALON 2019 Innovation Award for Aeronautics and Counter-Drone Systems: InnovAero Pty Limited

In addition, three Award contenders won a High Commendation.

“Our Innovation Awards were the first, and remain the only, such awards to recognise and reward the creativity, achievements and sheer excellence of innovative Australian companies and individuals in the aerospace industry,” said Avalon 2019 CEO Mr Ian Honnery.

The fact that entrants were so eager to submit entries for the Avalon 2019 Innovation Awards is a reflection of both the quality and ambition of Australian companies and the growing prestige of these awards, Mr Honnery added.

The National Award winners were presented with engraved glass boomerangs, symbolising the inventiveness of Australia’s first peoples and their unique contribution to aeronautical history. The boomerangs were designed and made by Wathaurong Glass Arts, an indigenously owned and managed cooperative in Geelong.

The winners of the SME Innovation Grant and the Young Innovator Awards were presented with cheques for $15,000 each as rewards for their efforts and a small financial contribution to further innovation and the development of professional skills.

“Our purpose as a foundation is to promote the development of Australia’s industry capacity in the fields of aerospace, defence, maritime and IT so we’re putting our money – literally - where our mouth is,” said Mr Honnery.

“That the awards have been won by such high-quality candidates speaks for the quality of the individuals, companies and organisations making up Australia’s civil and military aerospace industry,” he added.

National Civil Innovation Award:
The judges recommended this go to InnovAero Pty Limited of O’Connor, WA, for developing the BigEye aerial camera system. BigEye is the world’s best-in-class aerial camera system which when used in conjunction with the bespoke processing technology developed by sister company Spookfish Limited provides: Industry-leading resolution/altitude performance - less than 5cm pixel size captured from 10,000ft; Industry-leading accuracy with much better than 20cm RMS location accuracy for features on the ground straight from the processed imagery without the requirement for external adjustment; Industry-leading capture rate with up to 2,500sqkm per day per system at that resolution and accuracy. InnovAero has achieved export sales already worth some $30 million and its partner company, Spookfish, has been acquired by a US aerial surveillance specialist for $140 million.


National Defence Innovation Award:
The judges recommended this go to Defence Innovations Pty Limited of Mulgrave, VIC, for developing the wireless Non-Intrusive-Flight-Test-Instrumentation (NIFTI). This represents a breakthrough and quantum leap in flight test instrumentation because it is lighter, cheaper and quicker to install and remove than a conventional flight test instrumentation package. Ordered by the RAAF and proven in supersonic flight testing, NIFTI uses stick-on sensors that communicate with an on-board Data Acquisition gateway using WiFi. It is possible to instrument a supersonic aircraft with a NIFTI package in a matter of hours (instead of weeks), and then remove the NIFTI installation in less than an hour to return the aircraft to frontline service. Its domestic and export market potential are both significant.


Defence SME Innovation Grant:
The judges have recommended this go to Cryoclock Pty Limited of Adelaide, SA, for developing the “Sapphire Clock” product range. This award-winning technology provides signals that are up to 1,000 times more precise than any other commercial system: it is so precise, it gains or loses only one second over 40 million years. The Sapphire Clock has been incorporated into the Jindalee Operational Radar Network (JORN), whose upgrade aims to improve its ability to detect slow moving objects among significant background clutter, enabling JORN to see smaller objects, travelling slower, at much greater range. The impact of the Sapphire Clock in improving end-to-end radar sensitivity and resolution is such that it has been likened by Defence to “jumping the project forward by 20 years in just one day”.


Young Civil Innovator Award:
The judges recommended this Scholarship be awarded to Mr Graham Bell of Monash University and the co-founder and CEO of NextAero Pty Limited, Melbourne, VIC, for his ground-breaking work using 3-D printing to create an Aerospike rocket motor nozzle that has the potential to reduce the cost of space launch by up to 25%. The Aerospike nozzle essentially turns the traditional bell-mouth rocket motor nozzle inside out and provides greater efficiency, especially at lower speeds, but requires highly complex internal cooling channels to prevent overheating. Mr Bell and NextAero with resources from Monash University have employed 3-D printing technology to create the extremely complex internal shape required for an aerospike nozzle and have successfully tested it in Australia.


Young Defence Innovator Award:
The judges recommended this Scholarship be awarded to Mr Jimmy Toton of RMIT University, the DMTC Limited and Sutton Tools, all Melbourne-based, for his work employing 3-D Printing in the fabrication of cutting tools for very hard materials such as Titanium and Stainless Steel. Utilising 3-D printing technology will allow for significant productivity increases by producing complex and specialised cutting tool geometries that aren’t possible through traditional production processes, with optimised materials and internal cooling channels, while achieving superior performance outcomes. The aim is to increase the productivity of cutting tools used by Australian companies to manufacture high-technology components for aircraft such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, reduce the cost of creating components in Titanium and Stainless Steel and so increase Australian industry’s global competitiveness.


AVALON 2019 Innovation Award for Space Operations and Technology:
The judges recommended this be awarded to Inovor Technologies Pty Limited, of Adelaide, SA for developing a novel nanosatellite platform and a unique Space Situational Awareness (SSA) application. The nanosatellite platform consists of all subsystems required to support a payload in space, including the primary structure, the power system, pointing control, mission control and health monitoring systems. All are manufactured in Australia. The SSA mission, Project Hyperion, is a constellation of nanosatellites operating in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), looking away from Earth to monitor the high value Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) and Medium Earth Orbit (MEO). A unique machine learning based SSA detection and tracking algorithm enables high precision SSA by a small, low cost satellite. This enables a highly sought-after capability – the ability to persistently track a rogue or even potentially hostile GEO or MEO object of interest. Currently there is no system capable of doing this. 


AVALON 2019 Innovation Award for Autonomous and Unmanned Systems and ISR:
The judges recommended this be awarded to Cryoclock Pty Limited of Adelaide, SA, for developing the “Sapphire Clock” product range.

AVALON 2019 Innovation Award for Training:
The judges recommended this be awarded to Toll Helicopters of Bankstown, NSW, for creating the Aeromedical Crewing Excellence, or The ACE Training Centre, a purpose-built training centre that offers world class training facilities and highly realistic mission simulation technology with a focus on technical and non-technical skills for helicopter pilots, aircrew and specialist personnel, such as air medical teams. Training facilities include a Full Motion Fight Simulator, Complete Aircrew Training System, a HUET simulator and wet and dry winch simulators. The training delivered to Toll aircrews, NSW Ambulance and ACT Ambulance medical crews, as well as operational and clinical crews from other Australian States, sets a new benchmark in the domestic market and follows international best practise by utilising the most modern training programs, techniques and the latest simulation technology.


AVALON 2019 Innovation Award for Aeronautics and Counter-Drone Systems:
The judges recommended this be awarded to InnovAero Pty Limited For developing the BigEye aerial camera system.


High Commendations:
High Commendations are awarded at the Judges’ discretion. Three entrants received High Commendations at Avalon 2019:

  • Deakin University in the Avalon 2019 Innovation Award for Training, for developing the Universal Motion Simulator (UMS) haptically enabled motion platform
  • It’s Rocket Science Adventures in the Avalon 2019 Innovation Award for Training, for its novel and innovative approach to encouraging school students into the STEM education streams
  • Defence Innovations Pty Limited in the Avalon 2019 Innovation Award for Aeronautics and Counter-Drone Technology for developing the NIFTI Non-Intrusive Flight Test Instrumentation System.


For further information please contact:

Gregor Ferguson
Executive Manager, Industry development
Aerospace Australia Ltd
PO Box 4095

Tel: 03 5282 0550
Fax: 03 5282 4455