After a record number of entries, Invest Northern Rivers (INR) has announced the winner of the 2008 INR Technology and Innovation Awards, and Ballina inventor Bill Howell from Cycloplas has won the Country Energy Northern Rivers Inventor of the Year award.

Bill has developed a technology to convert unwashed and unsorted waste plastic into a value added product.

Cycloplas Waste Plastic Solutions addresses the challenge of recycling dirty, unsorted plastics (including plastic bags).

It has the potential to not only decrease plastic in landfills, but turn a costly waste item into a profitable product.

“Bill Howell’s Cycloplast invention is unique in the way it transforms previously unusable plastic and liquid chemical waste into a range of viable products,” says Doug Hackett, Country Energy’s community relations adviser for Far North Coast Region and a judge in the awards.

“This invention has significant environmental benefits as it will greatly reduce the amount of plastics that are used in landfill.

“The new end-products are also recyclable, which creates a continuous cycle of environmentally safe and reusable materials.”

Invest Northern Rivers presented two additional merit awards. 

The winner of the Northern Rivers Smart Innovators Merit Award, sponsored by Combustion Advertising, is Andrew Cottle of Window Weather Systems in Banora Point.

His invention, Window Weather Guards, is an ‘air-in, rain-out’ system for sliding windows to keep out rain while allowing the free flow of fresh air into a house or commercial building without compromising security.

The winner of the Northern Rivers Smart Innovators Investment Readiness Award, sponsored by Ethical Investor, is Greg Trevena from Refreshed Investments in Byron Bay for his Lemon Myrtle Multi Purpose Liquid.

This natural concentrated liquid cleaning product has the potential to replace harsh chemicals and bleaches currently used in cleaning products.

Invest Northern Rivers also singled out another three finalists for special commendation, including another Ballina inventor, Phil Chapman, of Undercover Canvas in Ballina, who has invented a self-supporting boat shade cover; Klara Marroszeky, of Morrowby Futures in Nimbin, has invented affordable hemp masonry construction materials; and Alcy Infinity, of Timesavers International in Tregeagle, has developed the CyberForceField Suite, a software system that protects computers from viruses and threats without interfering with computer performance.

Bill takes home the prize of $10,000 for further commercialisation of the technology, while the two merit award winners receive $1000 to use in developing their business.

All six of the top entries will be invited to an executive management coaching workshop provided by Southern Cross University.

The prizes were presented in a ceremony this morning in Lismore with a keynote address by Fiona Waterhouse, the co-founder and director of Sustainable Venture Partnerships.

“As a major sponsor, Country Energy has been very pleased to see the high standard of entries in this year’s awards,” Far North Coast regional general manager Brian Glawson said.

“The range of interesting and innovative entries shows what great potential exists across the Northern Rivers and we hope our involvement is a catalyst for these people and others with big ideas to develop them and take them to the market.”

PICTURE: Award winners and sponsors, (seated, from left) – Andrew Cottle (Winner Smart Inventors Merit Award), Bill Howell (Winner, Country Energy’s Northern Rivers Inventor of the Year Award), Greg Trevena (Winner Investment Readiness Award); (standing) – Award Sponsors – Margot Sweeny (Chair, Northern Rivers Regional Development Board), Professor Paul Clark (Vice Chancellor, Southern Cross University), Michael Walsh (Ethical Investor), Mike Hely (Country Energy), Ean Jones (Combustion Advertising).