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Innovator of the Year

Congratulations to the 2021 SA Innovator or Innovation Team of the Year finalists.


Professor David Lewis and Associate Professor Jonathan Campbell, Flinders University


3RT (Recycle, Reduce and Reuse Timber) has created new, internationally patented technology that can turn low value plantation timber into sustainable, high quality and affordable hardwood. The company’s products have the same wide dimensions, visual appeal and warmth of natural timber without impacting old growth native forests.

3RT’s technology creates a pathway for new manufacturing jobs, both in rural areas and for the high-quality timber supply chain with wood finishers who produce tables, chairs, and architectural features. The technology offers potential to reduce carbon footprint by using 3RT products in place of steel and concrete in buildings of the future.

Designed and manufactured in South Australia, the product offers consumers all the benefits of natural timber, with the confidence that material is accredited and sourced sustainably.

Associate Professor Justin Chalker

Flinders University


Dr Justin Chalker has invented a portfolio of green technologies that support the business activities of Clean Earth Technologies (CET).


His innovations are the basis for several products and services offered by the company, including novel materials that capture toxic mercury pollution, clean methods for gold extraction from ore and e-waste, and precisions fertilisers for agriculture. With mercury pollution still encountered across multiple sectors, these novel materials for capturing toxic metal is critical for ensuring environmental and human health.


Dr Chalker’s mercury-capture technology – a benign method to extract and recover gold from ore and electronic waste – forms the basis of an e-waste recycling process commercialised by CET. Their aim is to commission the first recycling facility in Australia that processes printed circuit boards, recovering valuable gold and re-purposing plastic and fibreglass as additives in novel construction materials.


For CET’s agriculture business, Dr Chalker invented novel coatings and vehicles for slow-release fertilisers. After recent field trials, the technology promises to help reduce wasteful nutrient runoff that can harm the environment.

Dr Chia-Chi Chien

OminiWell Pty Ltd


Dr Chia-Chi Chien is a bioengineer and biomedical researcher who is dedicated to establishing novel bioanalytical platforms for drug translation into clinical trials.

During her PhD studies, Dr Chien recognised an unmet need in translating animal models to clinical trials and believed an advanced model system of recreating human organs and tumour microenvironments would allow researchers to monitor changes while going through in-depth drug testing and treatment (novel/repurposing/existing drugs, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and radiotherapy).

In 2013, and whilst working in Australia, her work transitioned into a new field for developing innovative cell culture technology. Her scientific enquiries are underpinned by a 2015 Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (ARC DECRA) and a five-year Foundation Fellowship from the Future Industries Institute at the University of South Australia.

In 2020, Dr Chien founded OminiWell Pty Ltd where she developed novel biotech platforms of in vitro diagnostic technology to speed up drug discovering processes for cancer treatment and clinical translation. Ultimately, the vision is to make an impact on personalised medicine by recreating individual organs that can test cancer treatments within two weeks, benefiting researchers, oncologists, and clinical patients.

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