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On a weekend when many of us were focused on the Wallabies and their World Cup date with the All Blacks at Eden Park, Auckland, it is timely that we think about some other champions in our midst, which don’t get the national accolades they deserve.

Back in 1995, the then-Small Business Minister, Chris Schacht, in announcing the franchisee of the year, made reference to the fact that we Aussies don’t recognise our business champions like we do our sporting heroes.

The memory of his point, well made, came back to me when I was gobsmacked at the calibre of the four finalists in the University of Queensland Business School’s $100,000 ENTERPRIZE competition last Thursday, which I hosted in Brisbane.

Let me recap so you can understand just how smart this country’s entrepreneurs are.

The first business was a company called AquaHydrex that has created a process to make hydrogen, at a time when energy issues and its costs have forced a carbon tax on us, at a fraction of the cost of prevailing methods.

Then there was a team called Cloevis that has created processes to stop corrosion and eradicate the associated smell in sewer pipes, potentially increasing the life of millions of kilometres of pipes around the world from 10 years to something over 50 years or even more.

By the way, both of the above businesses would have significant carbon footprint reduction implications, let alone a very measurable cut in costs to the affected industries and governments in the pipe-laying game.

Then there was a two-man team called HaystackHQ that has created an internet-trawling tool for searching for patents and analysing complex patent data worldwide, which delivers results much more quickly and cheaply than current labour-intensive, second rate processes.

And then there was the winner, Calpain Therapeutics, which aims to bring to market a world-first drug to delay the onset of cataracts or slow their progression. The eye drop drug that could be dispensed each night targets the protein in the tissue of the eye, which causes the cataract clouding of the eye’s lens. Most cataracts develop as people get older but they can also be caused by diabetes, eye injury, exposure to ultraviolet light from sunlight, long-term use of steroid medication, smoking and heavy drinking.

The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness estimates that almost 18 million people are blind from cataracts. Many of those are in the world’s poorer regions. Currently, the only treatment for severe cataracts is surgery with more than 200,000 operations performed in Australia each year and about 3.4 million a year in the United States. There are often long waiting lists in public hospitals for the surgery.

The night, being inspired by these exceptional Australians, brought home to me how much more our governments — federal, state and local — need to do to encourage the lateral thinking and business development of the army of entrepreneurs out there.

It is staggering that a university has had the leadership inclination and rocks to dig deep to offer $100,000 to bring the best of the best of our budding business success stories out to show off their wares. It’s a pity that our political leaders don’t do enough to encourage our business heroes of tomorrow.

If you’re looking to work on your business rather than being stuck in it, book in for a complimentary business assessment today with Switzer Business Coaching.

Important information: This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. For this reason, any individual should, before acting, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to the individual’s objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

Published on: Monday, October 17, 2011

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