climate for innovation

Creating the right climate for innovation

The Darwin-based inventor of new solar power technology will use the $100,000 he won in the first Croc Pitch innovation challenge to bring his world-first product to market.

Keith Jury says his original PV swimming pool control system worked very well. But the redesigned version will be even better.

The SolFlow PV Direct system can filter, heat and chlorinate a pool, and has a range of add-on features, including water management.

It uses only three rooftop solar panels and a small control box, compared with the 16-18 panels needed by mains-powered systems.

An advanced PV Direct hybrid controller enables solar and mains electricity to work together as needed.

“The product does everything the owners of swimming pools have ever wanted,” says Keith. “And its far less expensive than any other system.”

Keith won $50,000 from the Northern Territory Government’s popular Business Innovation Support Initiatives grants programs, which is administered by the Department of Trade, Business and Innovation.

And a further $50,000 from the Paspalis Innovation Investment Fund.

“The money from the Government and Paspalis is extremely important in helping finish off the redesign.”

Croc Pitch, which was held at the new Darwin Innovation Hub in the Paspalis Centre, saw entrepreneurs present their ideas and answer questions from an expert panel.

“It was very tough – I had a few minutes to explain a decades work.”

SolFlow now has a chance to win $1 million from Australian venture capital firm Right Click Capital at the StartCon startup and growth conference in Sydney at the end of next month.

Keith and business partner Graham Wilkins have invested $1.7 million in developing technology designed to help manage the energy flow in solar power systems over the past five years.

“It’s been a matter of, don’t buy a property – invest the money in our products, don’t go on holiday – invest the money. We’ve put everything into this.”

Graham is a design engineer and works from Adelaide.

But Keith moved to Darwin six years ago because he felt the pool control system needed to be tested “in the real world”.

“Electronics don’t mind the cold weather – in fact, it likes it. But it doesn’t like heat and humidity.

“We thought we had everything right until we tested it in Darwin’s extreme weather conditions. And we quickly learnt that we had to make changes.

“So Darwin has been great in helping us perfect our product. If something survives in Darwin, it can survive anywhere.

“We’ve fitted the system for select customers in Darwin and they have been very kind and understanding. We’ll soon be ready to release it to the market”.

The two big thinkers are using their solar photovoltaic direct technology to develop a range of innovative technology for homes and business.

Croc Pitch was held as part of October Business Month’s Innovation Week, which included the launch of the Government’s Business Innovation Strategy.

The strategy aims to ignite, inspire and intensify a culture of innovation among NT businesses.

Ignite: create and strengthen connections, collaborations and strategic partnerships with innovators, businesses, educational institutions, NGOs, industry bodies and investors.

Inspire: unlock innovation and entrepreneurial talent through tailored events, support services and programs.

Intensify: supporting innovators and entrepreneurs to access the funding and the support they need to achieve commercial success.

For more information or to view the strategy, visit: innovation.nt.gov.au

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