Lignin barrier coating gets closer to market



qutbluebox is working closely with QUT researchers – Associate Professor Les Edye and Mr Albert Tietz – industry and early stage investors to take a new, environmentally friendly waterproof coating to the marketplace.

With recent seed funding from Black Sheep Capital, we’re now in a position to further optimise the formulation and take it through pilot testing and industrial-scale trials. At the same time, we’re also engaging with multinationals and Australian-based companies interested in adopting the coating technology.

So what’s exciting about this product? Well, it’s made from lignin, which is a naturally occurring bi-product from the pulp and paper industry lignin. Not only does this give the coating ‘green credentials, there’s also lots of it available, it’s inexpensive and 100% recyclable and renewable. Existing coatings are either wax or petroleum-based and they’re not recyclable.

bluebox began working with the research team in 2012 to progress this project from an idea (initially based on using sugar cane) to a commercially-valid product. We invested about $250,000 in proof-of-concept funding to enable the researchers to the revise the formulation and scale it up into commercial quantities for commercial trialing.

Where to next? Well, we’re very hopeful that this coating solution will hit the market relatively soon.


QUT researcher Albert Tietz has been a key force behind developing the coating.

CSI – we’ve got a new laser for you!

Crime Scene

qutbluebox and crime scene investigation isn’t a link that most people would normally make. We’re hoping that will change thanks to QUT’s Dr Emad Kiriakous.

Dr Kiriakous is an analytical chemist and a lecturer in forensic science. Before his career at QUT he spent 10 years in forensics and homeland security. Knowing first-hand the dangers that confront forensic scientists in the field, Dr Kiriakous decided to develop a device that allowed unknown, and potentially hazardous substances to be analysed from a distance. He wanted something that was simple fast, easy to deploy outside the lab and cost-effective (that’s code for ‘cheap as possible’).

Working with two physicists, Dr Kiriakous developed a new laser device that can analyse concealed substances in normal light and from a distance. He’s optimistic the device will even work from 20 metres away.

Dr Kiriakous is using a proven technology known as Raman spectroscopy.

“Raman has unique features suitable to forensics,” says Dr Kiriakous.

“Working in forensics, you need to identify hazardous substances but you really want to be as far away as possible. “I realised I could work with Raman spectroscopy to develop a device that was very accurate and allowed you to analyse unknown substances remotely.

“What’s really great about Raman is that it can analyse substances dissolved or covered in water. Raman gives you a unique fingerprint technique for each component. Each material has it’s own profile.”

There’s a UK company also using Raman and they’ve got products on the market. However, the big difference from the QUT device and everyone else’s is that Raman normally only works in the dark and up close. QUT is the first to get it to work in daylight and without the laser touching the surface of the container it’s analysing.

qutbluebox was impressed by Dr Kiriakous’ research and we’ve already put $128,000 into developing the device. It came through initial proof-of-concept trials but it’s still sitting on the bench. So we’re talking with industry and potential investors to try and get the laser into the market.

If we’re successful, it won’t be just forensic scientists looking to use the laser.

Our analysts believe the device has a range of applications:
• Medicine – to scan patients for conditions such as cancer
• Mining – determine the metals in soil/rock profiles (to mine or not to mine)
• Security – easily scan packages, suitcases and bags for drugs or explosives
• Pharmaceutical & Food industries – remotely monitor the quality and composition of products without having to stop production.

Read our full media release.

Social Media we’ve got you analysed

Darryl Woodford & Katie Prowd.jpg

If you’re serious about building your brand and your business, you’ve got to have skin in the social media game. There’s no question about it. But, and there’s always a ‘but’, leveraging this beast to your commercial advantage can be challenging to say the least.

That’s why the qutbluebox team was immediately interested in QUT’s Dr Darryl Woodford and Katie Prowd’s research into social media analytics. Our Board recently approved a second proof-of-concept investment for the pair to build a next generation social media analytics tool. We’ve now invested around $100,000 in the technology.

Darryl and Katie are now madly developing a website dashboard for the tool, which has the potential to deliver crucial consumer intelligence. Their new platform will combine academically grounded methodologies and algorithms to take social media analytics to the next level. While still delivering all the basics we’ve come to expect from social media analytic tools, it will allow businesses to better understand their audience and the ways they engage with brands accounts and content, and can serve as a social media control room for real-time monitoring of major events and campaigns.

The website could be open for business as early as 2015. In the meantime, Darryl and Katie are having discussions with several companies interested in trialing the platform.

Read our full media release.

Innovation Challenge winner, Tanda, to fast track R&D

After winning first prize in the 2014 qutbluebox Innovation Challenge, start-up Tanda is planning to reinvest the money into fast tracking R&D to give them a better shot at the international market. Tanda co-founder Tasmin Trezise explained what the company has in store.

“We’re stoked to win the Innovation Challenge. The $60,000 prize money is going to make the world of difference to Tanda. In short, we’re going to reinvest the money into R&D and technical development. This includes developing an app, which will allow us to take our product to a global market. This will give us a real shot at shaking up the entire industry.

“Technology ages quickly and if it wasn’t for bluebox and QUT, we wouldn’t have been able to put this into motion until early 2016. We’re already growing Tanda at an incredible rate, but now we’ll be able to scale a lot faster.

“To put this in perspective, less than two years ago we were all studying at QUT. In the 18 months since launching Tanda, we now have 5000 employees in Australia clocking in every day using our software.

“Aside from the benefits to Tanda, winning the Innovation Challenge also meant a lot to us as QUT alumni. To have this level of endorsement from QUT has been incredibly encouraging. We all met at QUT and the early stage development for Tanda happened while we were still at university. What’s more real world than developing a solution and taking to market? We wouldn’t have been able to do that without QUT.

“Mostly, I really want to celebrate and encourage more QUT students connecting with others to flesh out their crazy ideas. There’s no better opportunity than uni to meet like-minded people and give it a go, you’ll never know where you are going to end up.

“We’re always happy to help any aspiring entrepreneurial QUT student. If there are any developers or business students looking for work experience in a growing start-up, definitely drop us a line.”