Grant funding will support the initiative to create a novel and innovative product that will provide value in the global setting.

THE federal government, through the National Forest Industries Plan, Growing a Better Australia – A Billion Trees for Jobs and Growth and in conjunction with Forest and Wood Products Australia, has launched the 2021 National University Wood Challenge.

The challenge will award grants of up to $20,000 to each finalist team. The prize-money will be used to fund the building, testing and prototyping of valuable and innovative products created from wood and wood fibre residue.  

The challenge is aimed at using forest resources smarter and to enhance community understanding of forestry.

Within the Australian forest industry, there is a high volume of ‘lower value’ fibre that has great potential to be converted into high value products.

The ideas that the development grants will support are expected to be more blue sky and over the horizon in nature than traditional sector funding opportunities that generally require industry input and endorsement to proceed through current NIFPI and FWPA models.

This is a chance for the academic community to provide some insight into next generation processes and products that can be built from our current lower-value materials.

The goal of the challenge is to attract teams of university students and academics from a variety of disciplines, in order to increase the diversity of ideas and products proposed. Multidisciplinary teams with a mixed skill set are likely to deliver products that are better equipped to respond to market demands.

The judges are expecting a wide range of submissions … from platform chemicals made from forestry residues to create new polymers to potential additives for adhesive resins and fertilisers and soil enhancers. The challenge might even see proposals for enhancing the performance of existing products. 

Each team must have at least one member of the university’s academic staff and at least one student with a maximum of five team members, from the same university.

The grant funding will support the finalist team’s initiative to create a novel and innovative product that will provide value in the global setting. 

Entries will be judged by a panel of highly skilled forestry and business executives. The winning team will be announced in November with an additional $10,000 in prize-money to further develop their proposed prototype or project.  

The challenge entries are open for five weeks starting from June 18 until July 25 with the first round of judging commencing on June 26.