Queensland-based Aquarius Technologies teamed up with Griffith University through the STEM+ Business program and fast tracked R&D into their Ultima water monitoring technology.

Challenge

Queensland-based Aquarius Technologies develop and manufacture controllers for water treatment industries. Their Ultima product provides a user-friendly, high-tech suite of water monitors. Manufactured in Australia, Ultima controllers are now being exported globally.

A previous AusIndustry Research Connections grant had supported a research project with Griffith University to further develop Ultima’s capabilities, however Aquarius Technologies required additional support to sustain research and development of their technology.

Solution

With a PhD in Chemical Engineering at Griffith University, Dr Ehsan Eftekhari has a specific research interest in nanoparticles. His extensive experience in their design, fabrication, synthesis, characterisation and application, combined with his relationship with both Griffith and CSIRO throughout his PhD studies, made Ehsan an attractive partner for the STEM+ Business project that looked at using carbon nanodots for water monitoring.

Supported by the SME Connect team, a STEM+ Business project connected Aquarius with Ehsan who became the primary researcher in Aquarius’s project with Griffith.

Results

By fast-tracking their research with Griffith University, Aquarius quickly saw the promising opportunities for water sensing offered by carbon nanodots, and became aware of the strong commercial opportunities in developing an in-stream, real-time phosphonate sensing system using this technology.

Ehsan is expected to scale up his time with Aquarius to 100% EFT as pilot and field-scale tests are carried out. During his time on the STEM+ Business project, Ehsan worked with a range of Aquarius staff including the General Manager, Sergio Koulakov and Sales Manager, Dr Ben Mosayebi, and was exposed to a broad range of skills including leadership, project management, communications and commercialisation. This experience has enhanced his research career as an academic with experience as an “innovator for the real world”.

With the support of the STEM+ Business program Griffith University has maintained a critical mass of nanomaterial researchers and expertise in its Queensland Micro and Nanotechnology Centre which has developed an international reputation in advanced materials research for sustainable development.

“Due to the unpredictable nature of R&D it is easy to be distracted from administration and business activities when you are trying to resolve a research problem. The STEM+ Business program provides much needed project management certainty. It allows us to carry research activities in parallel with our current business activities.”

— Sergio Koulakov, General Manager Aquarius Technologies Pty Ltd

“I see this project as being able to deliver a big change in technology and the industry, and it has been a truly valuable experience to follow this growth from concept through to R&D and commercialisation.”

— Ehsan Eftekhari, Researcher, Griffith University

This program is supported by the Science and Industry Endowment Fund (SIEF) .

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For further information and to apply, please get in touch with our dedicated STEM+ Business Manager.

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