Australian Invention of the Year Award Winners Announced


June 4, 2004

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Joint winners of the Australian Design Awards' Invention of the Year Award 2003 were announced last week in Melbourne. Tim Straatmans received the honour for his Coconut Net in conjunction with Ron Kukler, whose invention of an environmentally friendly diesel engine injector delivers a 97% percent reduction in emissions as well as a 30% power increase.

Queensland based Tim Straatmans set out to solve a problem with his award winning invention - put a stop to a natural predator that causes extensive property damage and injures or kills more people than sharks each year - the falling coconut.

Mr Straatmans personal awareness of this danger - his mother received severe injuries when a coconut landed on her foot - has led to the design of a net-like object that clips on to the tree just under the fronds. The net traps the falling coconut and guides them into a basket, which can be emptied at the owners' discretion. The net is also built to blend into the structure of the surrounding tree so as not to look obtrusive.

The product is also likely to attract interest from councils and those responsible for public land management - in Queensland it is estimated that councils collectively spend more than $1 million annually to combat the problem.

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Ron Kukler has spent 30 years as a combustion engineer, before he had a specific need - he wanted a lightweight diesel engine for a high-speedboating application and available motors were too heavy, too noisy, too expensive, or vibrated too much, and they were all imported. So he decided to create his own. [Full Story]

About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, (Australia's largest Telco), (Australia's largest employment site),,, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
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