This page belongs to: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science 2022

2022 Prize for New Innovators

Associate Professor Brett Hallam 

UNSW’s Asociate Professor Brett Hallam has received the 2022 Prize for New Innovators, for the commercialisation of his innovative technology that has dramatically improved the performance of solar cells.

His work has boosted the performance of the global energy economy. 

His discoveries have improved the performance of solar cells by 10%, a significant increase in the field.

In 2021, technologies founded by Associate Professor Hallam have provided benefits to Australian consumers of approximately $500 million and $17 billion globally. These figures are rapidly increasing as the industry continues to expand. 

Watch a video about his work

My name is Brett Hallam.

I'm an Associate Professor specialising in Solar Engineering in UNSW Sydney.

Australia is a world leader in using rooftop solar.

More than 30% of houses have solar panels and this is a fantastic achievement.

Ironically, when we put solar panels out on our rooftops or in the field, they can lose some of their performance when exposed to sunlight.

I lead the research team here on how to stop this degradation in solar panels, and this is following on from work that started during my PhD, supervised by the late Professor Wenham.

My work is focused on developing new technologies to make solar panels cheaper, more efficient and more reliable.

We have developed a world-first technology here at UNSW, using light and heat to activate hydrogen and use that hydrogen to neutralise defects in solar cells that we put into solar panels.

This process is known as hydrogen passivation.

This technology has been patented and commercialised worldwide and now features in more than 95% of solar panels being installed in Australia or around the world.

This technology provided benefits to Australian consumers of around $500 million, globally around $17 billion.

My goal now is to help address some of the biggest problems as we continue to deploy renewable energy technologies like solar at scale.

This is really important as the solar industry continues to expand by at least a factor of ten over the next decade.

What I love about my job is working with an amazing team and seeing how they grow as the technology grows.

To receive the Prize for New Innovators is really exciting, and I'm extremely honoured, and in particular because it's from the technology we developed during my PhD with the late Professor Wenham.

I hope my work can help inspire other researchers as they continue to grow and fall in love with science.

Dr Pip Karoly   

The University of Melbourne and Seer Medical’s Dr Pip Karoly has received the 2022 Prize for New Innovators.

Dr Karoly’s discoveries are improving the lives of millions of people living with epilepsy through never-before-seen seizure forecasting technology.  

As a founding member of Seer Medical, Dr Karoly led the development of a mobile app for people living with epilepsy, enabling them to monitor and manage seizures at home. This has greatly improved quality of life, autonomy and productivity for millions of epilepsy sufferers.   

Her research efforts have greatly advanced global understanding of epilepsy.

The commercialisation of her discoveries has had additional benefits for Australia’s economy, where the cost of epilepsy is estimated to be $12.3 billion each year.   

Watch a video about her work

My name's Pip Karoly and I'm a senior research fellow in the University of Melbourne and a data scientist at Seer Medical.

Epileptic seizures, even small events, are a major problem in people's lives.

Not knowing when a seizure will happen can cause a lot of anxiety and risk for people.

Activities that we take for granted, such as driving, exercising, or swimming, even a hot cup of tea can become dangerous.

During my Master's project, I worked with an inspiring team of people who were combining engineering, neuroscience and clinical neurology to solve fascinating medical problems and developing brain implants.

During the final year of my PhD, that same team of people came together to found Seer Medical.

Seer's vision is to develop technology to help people with epilepsy to better manage their health.

We have launched a mobile and wearable app to forecast the risk of people's seizures.

So you can think of this app as being a little like the weather forecast on your mobile phone.

Each day you can look and see what the chance of rain is and whether you need to bring an umbrella that day.

Similarly for people with epilepsy, they can see their potential risk of having a seizure and plan their activities around it.

The seizure risk app is publicly available and our preliminary work with users is showing many of them find it helpful to manage their anxiety or day-to-day lives.

The forecasting app is based on my research discoveries into long term cycles of seizure risk, which affect most people with epilepsy and are unique to their seizures.

The next step with the app is to run clinical trials of seizure risk forecasting, both in Australia and the US, to understand how to best target this technology to improve quality of life for people with epilepsy.

A really rewarding part of my work is being able to span right from research through to clinical translation and work directly with the users of this technology.

The Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science are a wonderful example to show Australians how science and discovery can bridge into innovation and real-world applications.