From curiosity to commercialisation of nanocomposite polymer with $1.4 million in funding

(Nanowerk News) A quest to explore new research fields brought Darren Martin to Queensland 12 years ago, little realising his work would go on to impact on areas as diverse as wastewater treatment, high-performance engineering and sporting goods.
Professor Martin had a background in developing polyurethane materials for biomedical applications such as pacemakers and was looking for “new possibilities” when he joined The University of Queensland (UQ).
Professor Darren Martin
UQ Professor Darren Martin.
TenasiTech, the start-up company formed based on Professor Martin's ensuing research, has recently received $1.4 million in additional funding to begin developing a range of products with three multinational industry partners for use in non-competing applications.
TenasiTech, formed by UQ's main commercialisation company UniQuest to develop and commercialise Professor Martin's technology, has received $925,000 in State Government funding and $475,000 in follow-on investment from pre-seed investor Uniseed.
This funding will help broaden the scope of Prof Martin's research group at the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN) and UQ's School of Chemical Engineering as it works to develop polyurethanes with specific, and valuable, performance improvements for industry partners.
In collaboration with TenasiTech and the three industry partners, Professor Martin will develop prototypes of wastewater treatment equipment, next-generation engineering components and the world's most advanced high performance sports equipment.
The work has a focus on processing and structure-property performance of novel nanocomposite polymers.
It means polymer chemists and materials scientists in the research group develop polyurethanes and test for properties such as strength, flexibility and overall application performance.
“The Queensland Government funding is recognition for hard work, and also a great opportunity to fully translate our ideas into three product applications, with the prospect of more to follow,” Professor Martin said.
“My fantastic team has developed substantial know-how to the point where we now have world's best practice at a commercial scale.
“I didn't become a scientist just to publish papers and teach.
"While I enjoy both, I think innovation and taking ideas through to products is in my blood.”
“Scientific curiosity has always motivated me.
"The idea of applying nanotechnology to polyurethanes was very appealing.
“But my main motivation is people.
"Accepting and appreciating a spectrum of personalities and talents, and stitching them together into a functional team that hums along beautifully – now that's satisfying!"
Source: University of Queensland
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