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Solar-powered research takes out top prize at Ignite
14 November 2019

Suneeti Purohit from Swinburne University of Technology has won the AMP Amplify Ignite competition for 2019 for her initiative to revolutionise the steel processing industry with solar power.

Lorna Howlett from the University of Technology Sydney received the people’s choice prize, voted by the live audience, for her research into regenerating coral on the Great Barrier Reef.

The AMP Ignite competition is open to PhD researchers from across Australia, who have game-changing ideas. This year, sixteen finalists were selected to receive professional coaching and mentoring to learn how to pitch their research in only 150 seconds, in ways that truly engages the audience.

Ignite was first launched ten years ago, to help foster Australian innovation and entrepreneurialism, and bridge the gap between academia and corporate businesses.

The finalists presented to hundreds of people from the business and academic community, and the winning pitch was selected by a panel of judges representing Hallis Recruitment, PwC, Lakeba Group, and AMP. 

Pictured, above: AMP Amplify Ignite 2019 winner Suneeti Purohit (Swinburne University of Technology) 

The judges chose Suneeti as the winner, who received $10,000 to progress her research, based on the enormous potential environmental impact of her work.

“For every tonne of steel we make, we produce twice the amount of carbon dioxide,” said Suneeti.

“I’m trying to lower the amount of carbon emissions in steel production by up to 50%, which will make a significant difference to the planet. This is achieved by using heat from the sun to melt and bend steel, working directly on mining sites.”

The People’s Choice winner, Lorna Howlett, received an additional $1,000 for her idea to regenerate coral on the Great Barrier Reef.  

“The ocean produces 50% of the world’s oxygen, and coral reefs are one of the most vital ecosystems within our ocean,” said Lorna.

“Our team has invented a new device called a Coral-clip which allows us to plant over 100 corals in an hour, and each will have the chance to grow and become a new coral colony.”

Each of the sixteen finalists received $1,000, bringing the total prize pool to $27,000.

This year’s finalists came from ten universities, and represented the fields of technology and data, medicine and health care, and the environment and sustainability.

Pictured, above: AMP Amplify Ignite 2019 'People's Choice' winner, Lorna Howlett (University of Technology Sydney) with AMP Chief Operating Officer, Craig Ryman.

Pictured, top of page: AMP Amplify Ignite 2019 contestants