A small nanopatch designed to eliminate the need for flu and vaccine jabs may play a part in developing a new kind of relationship between New Zealand and Australia.
Developed by Professor Mark Kendall, group leader of the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology at the University of Queensland, the nanopatch - smaller than a postage stamp and currently undergoing clinical trials - may ultimately mean vaccines can be administered pain free without having to use needles.
The nanopatch is a tiny piece of silicon and when applied delivers vaccine to just below the top layer of the skin, an area abundant in immune cells.
While Kendall's work will have needle-phobic people rejoicing, it is also an example of the kind of inspiration and knowledge New Zealand businesses are keen to tap into as part of incentive programmes for high achieving staff.
Kendalls research - and that of many others like him in Australia - is creating a new experience with our neighbours across the ditch and helping to meet demand from New Zealand companies for what is being called "knowledge exchange" with Australia.
Tourism Australia's country manager New Zealand, Jenny Aitken, says there is a growing interest among New Zealand firms for staff incentive programmes to incorporate an educational component aligned with industry sectors.
"Not only does it add value to the programme," she says, "but it also delivers a strong return on investment as it encourages knowledge exchange, enables staff to create and build relationships, and ultimately improves staff engagement."
Aitken says Australia lends itself as the perfect incentive destination for New Zealand companies: "Not only does it offer unique experiences, excellent food and wine and beautiful landscapes, it also leads the way in sectors such as food and agribusiness, health and science, professional services, infrastructure, resources and energy, and advance manufacturing.
Another ground-breaking development attracting the interest of New Zealand companies is work on an artificial heart by Australian researcher Daniel Timms. He has developed the BiVacor device, a small titanium shell small enough to fit inside a child's chest yet powerful enough to support an adult.
About half the size of other artificial heart devices, it works like a fan by perpetually propelling blood forward through a small spinning disc levitating in a magnetic field.
Timms, who first imagined such a device while completing a PhD at the Queensland University of Technology, is working with the BiVacor team on pre-clinical testing at the Texas Medical Centre in Houston.
With only 4000 donor hearts available each year, Timms hopes the device could be the answer for the tens of thousands of people around the world who desperately need heart transplants.
In 2015 the BoVacor was implanted into a sheep at the Queensland university's medical engineering research facility. Six hours later the sheep was standing and eating.
Other innovations being developed by Australians cover a wide range of industries and fields, some of which include:
• Entrepreneur Ros Harvey who is using the Internet of Things and Innovative technology to help agribusinesses improve productivity and reduce waste – research poised to make a huge impact on how food is delivered from farm to table.
• Australian rocket scientist Dr Paddy Neumann has invented technology that could revolutionise space travel by recycling space junk for fuel – a process to be tested on the international space station.
• Australian company Seeing Machines is using tracking technology to detect when a driver is drowsy or distracted to help save lives on the road, in mines and on railways. Its driver safety systems are to be used to augment self-driving vehicle technology.
• Emma Johnston, ecologost and ecotoxicologist at the University of New South Wales is using cutting-edge tools to ensure vulnerable underwater worlds remain healthy for generations to come.
For New Zealand companies wishing to add an educational element to their incentive programme, Aitken recommends working with Australia's convention bureaux "who all have a close relationship with their local key industry sectors and are able to assist those looking to expand their networks as well as attract speakers and presenters."
# Reports of the various research programmes mentioned in this article were first published on www.australiaunlimited.com