Solar cell inventor Stuart Wenham has won the top prize at the 2009 Inventor of the Year awards hosted by New South Innovations, UNSW's technology commercialisation company.

Professor Wenham is a world-leading solar cell inventor who heads UNSW's ARC Photovoltaic Centre of Excellence. In a career spanning more than a quarter of a century, he has invented or co-invented eight suites of solar cell technologies that have been licensed to solar cell makers around the world, including Suntech-Power, BP Solar and Samsung. These companies have annual production volumes valued at hundreds of millions of dollars in an industry that is now the world's fastest-growing energy sector.

Eleven UNSW inventors were short-listed as finalists across four inventor award categories - biomedicine, science and engineering, the environment, and information and communication technology. The winners of each award category were nominees for the overall Inventor of the Year award.

In June Professor Wenham will head to the US to receive the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' William Cherry Award for outstanding contributions to the advancement of photovoltaic science and technology. In addition to the Inventor of the Year award, Professor Wenham also won the environment award.

UNSW Professor Philip Hogg won the biomedicine award for devising a drug that could stop tumours by "starving" them to death. Known as GSAO, it stops cancer cells from proliferating by preventing the growth of new blood vessels. The drug is in clinical trials with Cancer Research UK.

Professor Veena Sahajwalla won the science and engineering award for her polymer-injection technology that is diverting rubber and plastic from waste streams and recycling them into steel. Australian steelmaker OneSteel has licensed the technology from NewSouth Innovations and successfully trialled it at its Sydney and Melbourne electric-arc furnace steelmaking plants.

Professor David Taubman won the information and communication technology award for his image and video compression software. Known as KakaduTM the program permits the rapid transfer of massive image and video files.

The NSi Inventor of the Year awards reward innovative technologies of UNSW researchers and students that benefit the community and the environment. This is the first year of the awards, which carry a total prize pool of $20,000. One hundred and twenty leaders from business, media and research organisations attended the 23 April awards event. The gala evening was held at UNSW's John Niland Scientia Building and emceed by James O'Loghlin, host of ABC TV's The New Inventors.

Read the full story on the NSi website.

Media Contact: Dan Gaffney, NewSouth innovations | 0411 156 015 |