Engineering and technology feature prominently among the cutting-edge products and programs recognised in this year’s Australian Financial Review (AFR) list of the 50 Most Innovative Companies.
The annual list of the top 50 Most Innovative Companies was whittled down from more than 1000 nominations. Winners were judged by innovation consultancy Inventium based on criteria such as uniqueness, problem solving and evidence of impact.
Top overall innovation and top product innovation were awarded to the NRMA Fireblanket, a prototype wireless sensor network that provides an early warning system for bushfires and comes with tracking and predictive capabilities. This secured the number one spot for M&C Saatchi, whose innovation design consultancy Tricky Jigsaw produced the Fireblanket in partnership with the insurance company. The two teamed up with CSIRO’s Data 61 engineering, design and data science research centre to continue testing and evaluation of the prototype.
Second place and best innovative program went to Planet Innovation for a low-cost, compact fluorescence detector that can be used by medical practitioners to confirm a flu diagnosis. Planet Innovation was in first place on last year’s list for the Nplex portable diagnostic device platform, which combined a polymer test membrane with high performance smart phone camera optics.
Global engineering companies Aurecon and Lendlease also made the list. Aurecon was ranked fifth for its flood-resilient detachable ferry gangways. The gangways are fitted with floatation tanks that cause them to automatically detach from their moorings during flood conditions, and swing into a sheltered position behind the pontoon.
Lendlease came in at number 14 for its Virtual Superintendent (VS) geospatial database. VS analyses information from multiple sources, including weather data, drones, site plans and services, and issues warnings of plant issues and potential hazards. It also uses the data to increase understanding of vehicle use and staff behaviour.