UQ Business School competition a matter of life or death

12 Oct 2009
Three business ideas hoping to score $100,000 at UQ Business School's Enterprize Pitch Day on Friday could save lives if they can be successfully commercialised. A fire safe shelter that would have saved lives had it been available during the Black Saturday bushfires (Encase), a cooling technology to reduce potentially life-threatening heat stress (CoolMe), and a new treatment for one of the world's most common cancers (Warrapharm) will be among those pitching for the $100,000 prize. The Encase team was motivated by the deadly bushfires that killed 173 people to develop a fire safe shelter that can provide protection from flames, ember attack, smoke, and radiant heat. Encase CEO Andrew Thomas said the team had designed the new fire safe shelter from scratch. "Most of the shelters currently available on the market have tried to adapt another structure like a water tank and so have built in limitations to their effectiveness," he said. "By starting with a blank page we've been able to overcome many of the traditional limitations such as one-way entry and disability access." While the Encase team has taken on a growing environmental threat, Warrapharm has set its sights on a medical problem and is developing a new treatment for colorectal cancer. The Warrapharm team has reformulated two of the most effective chemotherapy drugs for colorectal cancer to significantly reduce the side-effects that can interrupt treatment and compromise disease management. Warrapharm Team leader Dr Gavin Dixon said with close to a million patients diagnosed globally each year, better first line treatment would potentially save lives, improve the quality of life for patients, and save tax payers money. Also addressing a biological problem - potentially fatal heat stress - is CoolMe Technology. CoolMe has developed a cooling jacket that can be worn under protective clothing or used to accelerate recovery after exposure to heat stress. The other teams competing for the $100,000 prize are DataMovie (visualisation tool that can make sense of large amounts of data), OAK Carbon (advanced engineering super-material), ToughSkin (new polymer material that can extend the life of, and in some instances replace, steel and concrete), and Tritium (electric drive train technology for hybrid cars). The seven teams will give it their best shot when they pitch their ideas in front of the Enterprize judging panel and an invited audience including venture capital and angel investors.