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$3.3 million R&D grant for innovative Brisbane company.



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Media Release The Hon Ian Macfarlane, MP

26 February 2004

$3.3 MILLION R&D GRANT FOR INNOVATIVE BRISBANE COMPANY A Brisbane medical research company has today been offered a $3.33 million R&D Start grant to develop a new pathology specimen processing system which will cut down error rates in laboratories and increase the accuracy of a patient’s test information for doctors.

Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane today surprised Ai Scientific staff with his announcement of the grant offer while touring the company’s Clontarf headquarters with local Federal Member for Petrie, Teresa Gambaro.

“This is one of the largest recent grants to be awarded under the highly competitive R&D Start program. It’s further recognition of the outstanding work Ai Scientific has been doing for the past 20 years, supplying cutting edge lab instruments here and overseas,” said Mr Macfarlane.

“In the field of modern medicine, pathology tests play an increasingly important role in diagnosing illness. Millions of blood and tissue samples and tests are carried out each year so it’s vital that the sampling is not mixed up. Ai Scientific’s work is reducing that risk,” he said.

Ai Scientific, with the help of Australian Government innovation support, has become an internationally recognised supplier of automated blood and urine sample management systems which go a long way towards eliminating processing errors.

The company’s Pathfinder technology, which was developed with the help of a $680,000 R&D Start grant, is installed at 49 sites in Australia and Italy. It is a machine controlled by state-of-the-art software which logs all specimens received by a pathology laboratory, identifies the tube type and calculates the volume in the tube and sorts it into workstation racks.

It is a system which provides a degree of certainty to an area where an error could prove to be very costly and accuracy could be life-saving.

“Like many business success stories, this one began with a good idea - in a garage more than 20 years ago. Today the company’s an internationally recognised supplier of automated sample management systems for industrial, environmental and medical laboratories, employing 60 people world-wide,” Mr Macfarlane said.

Last year 105 companies across the country were awarded more than $98 million in grants and loans through the R&D Start program. 18 of those were Queensland companies who received funding totalling almost $11 million.

“Over the same period, the Australian Government provided almost $7 million to 155 innovative companies across the nation under the Commercialising Emerging Technologies (COMET) program. This included $2.3 million to 57 Queensland companies,” Mr Macfarlane said.

For more information about Australian Government business assistance programs, or a list of recipients, visit www.ausindustry.gov.au or call the AusIndustry Hotline on 13 28 46. CMR04-044

Media contact: Kirsty Boazman, 02 62777 580 or 0412 171 444