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Autodesk supports clean technology

CAD vendor Autodesk has announced that it will support local clean technology companies with massively discounted software. The company is also the principal sponsor of the Australian Clean Technology Competition.

Australian and New Zealand SMEs that are developing clean technologies can join Autodesk's clean tech partner program and receive $US150,000 worth of the company's design software for $US50.

Jake Layes, Autodesk's head of sustainability and clean tech for Asia Pacific, told iTWire "Sustainability is at the core of our customers' needs" across various industries, and that the company can provide solutions to help create a better world.

Funding constraints early in a business's life can prevent access to advanced software that can be used to design and simulate such products, reducing the need for physical prototypes as well as the time needed for development.

One of the more famous examples of clean tech developed with the assistance of Autodesk's technology is electric vehicle maker Tesla Motors.

A local example is Canberra-based Nexus eWater, which has developed the Nexus reHeater, which uses a heat pump to transfer heat from grey water back to the hot water service, cutting water heating costs by up to 75%. The system is about half the cost of a solar hot water system, CEO Craig Richmond told iTWire, yet it has similar performance and works in any weather, even when a solar system would be covered by snow.

The company has also developed the Nexus reCycler, a mechanical device for treating grey water to 'near potable' quality for use in the garden or in toilets.

The two functions can be combined in a single unit.

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Mr Richmond said the Autodesk software would make it possible to investigate the potential for stress fractures in components prior to physical testing.

Nexus eWater was a semifinalist in the US clear tech competition last year (the company is active in California), and Mr Richmond encourages other companies to join the Autodesk program.

Innovators and startups working in clean tech can apply to join the program, and Autodesk is also working closely with universities and students in this field, Mr Layes said.

The Australian Clean Technology Competition puts local companies working in this area "on a pedestal," said Marc Newson, the Commonwealth Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education's clean technologies supplier advocate.

Participants in the 2012 event gained "a genuine commercial benefit from the competition," he said, with 90 overseas contacts being established.

Entrants in 2013 will go through an initial judging round to whittle the number down to 30. Those companies will coaching and mentoring for two months before the six finalists are selected.

Five of them will receive industry-specific awards (renewable energy, food and beverage, manufacturing, built environment, and mining) and the sixth will be named the overall winner of the Australian competition and may go on to the global competition.

Up to 30 of the companies will be involved in a trade mission to China and Singapore to meet potential investors and customers, Dr Newson said.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.