Sydney tech firm Samsara Eco has taken out the top award at the InnovationAus 2022 Awards for Excellence, winning the Australian Hero category for its pioneering infinite recycling technology.
The InnovationAus 2022 Awards for Excellence were presented on Thursday night at a gala black-tie dinner at the Cutaway in Sydney’s Barangaroo district.
The Australian Hero award represents the absolute best of the best, with the winner chosen from the best entries from across all the categories at the awards, comprising 38 finalists across 11 categories.
Samsara Eco took out the prestigious award for its use of cutting-edge technology to end the major climate problem of plastic pollution.
The Sydney-based company has developed a plastic-eating enzyme that can break plastic back down to its core molecules, meaning it can then be used by manufacturers to produce brand new plastic items. This effectively creates an infinite recycling cycle.
The enzyme was developed with the Australian National University and allows for the reuse of its monomers in producing food grade plastics with the same characteristics as virgin plastics.
The company was founded by Paul Riley, who also serves as CEO, in 2018. It recently closed a $54 million Series A found round which it will use to build its first plastic recycling facility in Melbourne. It aims to reach full-scale production at this facility next year.
After winning Thursday night’s top award, Mr Riley it was incredibly important to recognise and celebrate Australian innovation.
“There are some major challenges that we’re facing as humanity. And we need to recognize innovation to ensure that we can deliver outcomes against those,” Mr Riley said.
The Samsara Eco chief said it was “incredibly satisfying” to see the company’s deep technology come to life and contribute to a global mission of reducing waste. He’s confident similar companies will follow as Australia’s innovation ecosystem grows.
“What was what was lacking before in the ecosystem is now there. The support of venture capital, the supportive government is always important. And I think we’re well on the way now to be able to deliver even more innovation than we’ve currently got.”
Winning the Australian Hero Award caps off a busy month for the ANU spinout including the $54 million raise and progress towards its first commercial facility, expected to facilitate “the infinite recycling” of 20,000 tonnes of plastic from 2024.
“We’re incredibly proud to win the Australian Hero Award. It’s very exciting for our company, very exciting for the [Samsara Eco] technology. We’re expecting this to make a real difference to the world.”
Investors in the Series A round included Breakthrough Victoria, Main Sequence Ventures, the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and Woolworth Group’s W23.
Woolworths has also made a deal to acquire 5000 tonnes of Samsara Eco’s polyester product.
Samsara Eco buys or sources waste plastics from facilities around Australia, and uses its enzymes to break these products back down to their core building blocks, which can then be used to make new products.
Mr Riley has three decades of senior experience and a track record in venture capital and private equity business building, performance turn around, equity and debt raising and driving transformational change at the board level.
The InnovationAus 2022 Awards for Excellence were supported by: Investment NSW, AusIndustry, Australian Computer Society, Technology Council of Australia, Verizon, Mimecast, Microsoft Australia, Digital Health CRC (DHCRC), Agile Digital, METS Ignited, Innovation Manufacturing CRC (IMCRC), CSIRO, and Q-CTRL.