Semiconductor innovator BluGlass is our Australian Hero

Stuart Mason

NSW-based tech firm BluGlass has taken out the top prize at the InnovationAus 2023 Awards for Excellence, named the Australian Hero for its pioneering semiconductor development.

The InnovationAus 2023 Awards for Excellence were presented on Wednesday night at a black-tie gala dinner at the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney.

The Australian Hero award was presented on the night by the Tech Council of Australia’s head of policy, Ryan Black.

The Australian Hero is the top award of the night, and represents the best of the best, the cream of Australia’s tech crop.

“I can’t believe we’ve won it,” BluGlass chair James Walker said.

“It’s been a long journey. We’re very proud of what the team has created. It’s beyond belief.”

The BluGlass team feat. chief scientist Dr Cathy Foley

The winner was chosen from all of the entries across every category at the InnovationAus 2023 Awards for Excellence.

BluGlass Limited has been named the Australian Hero for its development and commercialisation of a new semiconductor technology that has been decades in the making.

Focusing on Gallium Nitride (GaN) technology, which has been used in electronics for decades, the company is pioneering Remote Plasma Chemical Vapour Deposition (RPCVD) for use in Defence, quantum and biotechnology markets.

These semiconductors can be used in manufacturing, advanced materials processing, robotics and artificial intelligence, among others.

GaN technology is growing fast around the world and is expected to reach $2.5 billion by 2025.

The company was formed in 2006 when the research underpinning it was spun out of Macquarie University, based on 10 years of research. The team then spent another 10 years developing the technology and then transitioning into a commercialisation phase.

“It took us a long time to work out what was the right commercialisation strategy,” Mr Walker said.

“And that journey really started four years ago, when we decided on a product strategy in a very unique market. That’s been our focus for the last four years. That led to product in market in January this year.”

BluGlass has an aim of powering the “smarter, cleaner, more efficient photonics of tomorrow with proprietary low temperature, low hydrogen, RPCVD manufacturing technology”. It now has 78 internationally-recognised patents in key semiconductor manufacturing jurisdictions.

It has now launched a full suite, end-to-end laser diode design, fabrication and packaging capability, and launched its US test facility in New Hampshire in 2020.

It also has a facility in Silicon Valley, while its head office remains in Silverwater, New South Wales.

In contrast to existing offerings, BluGlass’s semiconductors have a lower resistivity and higher efficiency, and can be made with custom wavelengths and flexible form factors.

After being recognised with the top award at the Awards for Excellence, Mr Walker encouraged other innovators to focus in strategically important areas where Australia has an advantage.

“Pick a sector that is going to change the world. Be passionate about it. And then obviously, you’ve got to work really hard and it’s not going to be easy, but that’s the way to go,” he said.

In October, BluGlass was the only Australian member named as a member of a new regional innovation hub set up by the US Department of Defense to produce semiconductors.

BluGlass is listed on the ASX and has a market capitalisation of more than $84 million. It has received about $92 million in investor capital and research and development tax incentive rebates, along with government grants and early-stage revenue.

The InnovationAus 2023 Awards for Excellence are proudly supported by Investment NSW, AusIndustry, Australian Computer Society, Technology Council of Australia, Agile Digital, CSIRO, TechnologyOne, IP Australia, METS Ignited and Q-CTRL.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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