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Australian Government backs NSW spinal R&D.

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Media Release The Hon Ian Macfarlane, MP

2 August 2006

AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT BACKS NSW SPINAL R&D Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane today announced Sydney-based Columna as one of 12 New South Wales companies sharing in $11.3 million following the latest round of Australian Government innovation funding.

Across Australia, more than $35 million was announced for 40 projects under the Commercial Ready and Commercialising Emerging Technologies (COMET) programs.

“Columna’s partial disc replacement system will be the first minimally invasive surgical cure of its kind for chronic lower back pain,” Mr Macfarlane said.

“Chronic back pain and its causes are the sixth most prevalent health problem in Australia, but current treatments have only limited ability to halt deterioration - let alone restore the spine.

“Columna’s system works by replacing the core of degenerated spinal discs. It has the potential to improve quality of life for a large number of Australians and the Federal Government is right behind the company as it develops this new technology.”

Contact: Columna Pty Ltd, Dr Ashish Diwan 02 9588 9622

Other NSW companies awarded funding this round include: • Romar Engineering Pty Ltd, of Sydney - awarded a $449,915 Commercial Ready grant to develop new technology involving liquid silicone processes which will benefit the automotive, manufacturing and biomedical industries. [Contact: Mr Neil Wilson 02 9644 5022 ] • Dtecht Pty Ltd, of Sydney - awarded a $2,694,178 Commercial Ready grant to develop a

technology-based fraud prevention system that will help curb multi-million-dollar error and fraud losses to Private Health Insurers, consumers and taxpayers in Australia. [Contact: Mr David Eastwood 02 9220 8208 ] • IPV Pty Ltd, of Gosford - awarded a $64,000 COMET grant to help commercialise its integrated freezer-to-oven automated food service system. A COMET business adviser will help with a business plan, market research and capital raising. [Contact: Gerard Gerlach 02 4324 9306]

A list of the latest innovation grants and information on the Commercial Ready and COMET programs can be found at, or phone the AusIndustry hotline 13 28 46, or email

Media Contact: Kirsty Boazman, 02 6277 7580 or 0412 171 444.