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Government supports innovation through COMET program

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The Australian Government’s Commercialising Emerging Technologies (COMET) program offers advice on how to get your product into the marketplace.

Elizabeth Lewis-Gray is a member of the Australian Government’s Innovation Australia board which is responsible for administering the Government’s innovation programs and Chair of the COMET Committee.

Lewis-Gray is keen to encourage early innovators in the mining sector to seek help and business funding through the program.

The COMET program is targeted at the early stage innovators who need assistance with business management and commercialisation skills.

There are many new innovations in the mining sector that could benefit from this program, particularly where the company founder has more of a technical than management background.

It can also provide assistance to companies, where appropriate, to raise capital on a success fee basis.

Lewis-Gray co-founded Ballarat-based Gekko Systems, a high growth locally grown business that has focused on developing, manufacturing and distributing innovative mineral processing equipment and related services.

Two examples of mining industry companies that have received grants under the COMET program are Scanalyse and Clearguard.

Perth-based Scanalyse developed MillMapper, software that provides a 3D computer model of the interior of a crushing and grinding mill, which reduces ore to suitable and consistency for further processing.

Scanalyse commercialised the MillMapper with a help of a $64,000 grant under the COMET program.

The software is a tool to keep a close watch on the liners in the mill. Liners wear out, and replacing them is a costly ongoing process, so it is important to schedule maintenance based on precise data.

MillMapper maps the interior of the mill which is then uploaded to Scanalyse’s head office for data processing and analysis.

A 3D model and report can then be downloaded by mine site staff to assist in decision making.

The second company, Clearguard, has solved a problem that has faced the refining industry since the industrial revolution.

With the support of a $64,000 COMET grant, Clearguard developed the autorodder, an instrument which can be installed in hostile environment to ensure tapping points stay clear.

Tapping points are used to measure level or pressure inside pipes and tanks used in processes such as refining alumina from bauxite or paint pigment from mineral sands.

Hans Sauer and Carl Pettersson, who developed the autorodder, said it was surprising that many different methods of drilling blocked tapping points had been used over the years, but no one thought of a way of just keeping the tapping points clear in the first place.

Hans and Carl said that without the COMET grant and advice from the COMET business adviser, they would not have been as successful in researching or marketing the product.

COMET is a merit-based grants program which supports early-stage growth companies, spin-off companies from research organisations and individuals to increase the commercialisation of innovative products, processes and services.

More details are available at AusIndustry.

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