It took Territory inventor Sam Pattemore less than a decade to convert an idea into an invention and then into a product that could potentially transform infrastructure protection.
Mr Pattemore, who founded Palmerston-based manufacturer Corrosion Instruments in 2019, came up with a unit for measuring and detecting corrosion on critical sub-sea or underground infrastructure such as pipelines, wharf pylons, jetties and tunnels.
He says rustproofing infrastructure assets is often mandated by law and can be complex and expensive.
But the CI-Tx cathode protection device he invented measures cathode protection on assets and can deliver hourly condition reports and advise when a fault occurs.
“The customer’s alerted as soon as anything goes wrong, it enables preventive maintenance so it will reduce the costs of surveying, reduce the cost of asset maintenance and hopefully extend the life of the asset to ensure the cathodic protection is optimised and always applied,” he said.
Mr Pattemore’s idea was first noticed in the Darwin Innovation Hub’s Croc Pitch program in 2019, receiving a $150,000 start-up investment from Paspalis Innovation Investment Fund which allowed him to establish Corrosion Instruments.
Croc Pitch is an annual event hosted by the Darwin Innovation Hub and are seeking companies that will provide direct benefits back into Northern Australia.
After start-up, Corrosion Instruments then received a $110,000 co-investment from the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre, which Corrosion Instruments matched dollar-for-dollar, enabling the company to commercialise the CI-Tx just a few years after development.
First released onto the market in March, the company has already begun selling the units with little to no marketing.
It comes after the NT government followed a recommendation from the Territory’s Economic Reconstruction Committee to work with the Advanced Manufacturing Growth Centre to help NT businesses to develop “manufacturing infrastructure”.
Launched in 2021, the $7.5m Advanced Manufacturing Ecosystem Fund has co-invested in six NT projects so far, representing a combined commitment of $11.8m to growing manufacturing, with a 15:1 return on investment.
Projects funded under the AMEF require at least two collaborators from business, manufacturing and the supply-chain or research, with a dollar-value co-contribution from the business.
Including Corrosion Instruments, six AMEF grants have been delivered to companies in Alice Springs, Katherine and Darwin.
Other recipients include NT companies Diverseco, AirTip, Arctic Installations, Katherine Joinery and SteelineGRP.
AMGC managing director Jens Goennemann drove to Darwin from Sydney last week to check on product development at Corrosion Instruments and other NT advanced manufacturing co-investment recipients.
“Visiting makes me see and understand what project challenges, the company challenges that are faced in rural Australia,” Dr Goennemann said.
With $5.2m left for advanced manufacturing grants in the fund, Advanced Manufacturing Minister Nicole Manison urged Territory companies looking to develop their manufacturing base to apply.
“Two years since the launch of our partnership with AMGC, the Advanced Manufacturing Ecosystem Fund has helped grow the Territory’s understanding of manufacturing and supported businesses to expand their capabilities and create local advanced manufacturing jobs,” she said.
“We’ve backed six projects that together will create 100 new, highly-skilled jobs and generate $35m in the Territory economy over the next three years which is a brilliant return on investment.”