Principal: Ageing, Disability and Partnerships

Twenty-seven exceptional women have been announced as finalists in the 2018 Winnovation Awards with TACSI Principal Kerry Jones a finalist in the Social Impact category.

The finalists are working on projects including addressing the global problem of tyre recycling, using virtual reality to help train the defence force, and developing a novel non-invasive prenatal screening technology.

Women in Innovation SA president Nicole Swaine said the extraordinary and inspirational award entries were an example of the outstanding work being carried out by women in South Australia.

“When our board and judging panel read through the entries, we were overwhelmed by creative and complex work being shared with us,” Ms Swaine said.

“These are women working across science, tech, education, business, government and more – and each has recognised a problem in their field, and dedicated themselves to solving it.”

“We can all be immensely proud of the talent and commitment that’s being displayed here.”

“These projects don’t just apply to South Australia – many have international implications.”

The finalists across 10 categories are:


Anika Johnstone Anika co-designed MOD. (a STEM-focused museum) with young adults aged 15-25 to create a space for them to be, and be inspired, about science, technology, engineering and maths.
Jen Frith and Kylie Green Jen and Kylie have created Belonging, a Music Theatre Camp. This is an inclusive, two-week long day camp in the January holidays for 8-19-year-olds, addressing the fundamental human need of belonging.
Kari Seeley Funding is always a challenge in the Arts. As General Manager of No Strings Attached Theatre of Disability, Kari is building performance and employment pathways in the Arts by securing performance opportunities for South Australian actors who live with disability, through creative funding solutions.


Professor Yan Zhuge What to do with end-of life tyres is a growing global problem. Yan is a Professor in Structural Engineering at UniSA and works in recycling used tyres into high-value building materials for structural engineering applications.
Assoc Professor Nikki Stanford Steel production is responsible for 7% of the world’s CO2 emissions. Associate Professor and Research Leader at UniSA’s Future Industries Institute, Nikki’s innovation is green steel – optimisation of direct strip casting for production of economically viable and environmentally friendly, novel alloys.

Emerging Innovator

Allison Nikula Allison is founder of CareApp, a digital health App that removes silos of communication by giving care recipients, care teams, loved ones and care providers the power to create an amazing community. CareApp brings families and care networks together, sharing information including images, from different locations, and in real-time.
Priyanka Nigam Priyanka has devised Augment Space, a cloud-based platform using alternate and emerging reality tours that are easy to scale across businesses. Its 3D tours enhance the buyer experience and make it much more interactive. It’s now one of the four companies that are integrated with
Leia Graf Traditional training for the Australian Defence Force can involve physical simulation, which requires expensive and often bulky replicas, or desktop-based training. Leia’s innovation uses Virtual Reality to create Serious Games that are immersive and realistic, allowing Defence personnel to learn and practice potentially dangerous tasks in a safe and controlled virtual environment.

Innovation & Intrapreneurship In Government

Dr Bernadette Eckermann As Innovation Specialist with SA Water, Bernadette provokes and supports thinking and doing differently across the organisation, to enable it to solve problems that matter to customers and community. This includes setting a framework for 1500 plus employees, and elements such as an ‘innovation series’ bringing in thought leaders to challenge the organisation’s thinking.
Dr Tahnya Donaghy Tahnya pioneered nation-leading data sharing legislation and established the Office for Data Analytics so that information can be shared across-government, within a safe and secure framework, to help vulnerable people.

Maths & Data

Dr Tina Du Tina is leading a 3-year interdisciplinary project “Collaborative Information Seeking and its Application in Tourism”. This uses data-driven approaches to develop innovative guidelines for understanding and supporting information-seeking behaviour in international tourism, particularly China.


Dr Renly Lim A research fellow at the Quality Use of Medicines and Pharmacy Research Centre, Renly created Village Drama Against Malaria – a unique science-art program to fight the world’s deadliest animal. Since 2013, Renly has been part of a research team studying villages in western Cambodia. They learned villagers did not entirely trust their work, so developed a captivating travelling program of workshops and performances with a theme of malaria control and elimination.
Mandi Dimitriadis A teacher and educational leader across many settings, Mandi is now at Makers Empire. Her innovation is a complete solution for developing primary school aged students’ design thinking capabilities using 3D design and printing technologies.
Jennifer Stokes Students who take bridging or enabling pathways to university have often experienced interrupted educational journeys and negative prior experiences. In response, Jennifer has designed Digital Literacy: Screen, Web and New Media, a course offered through UniSA College. Students are excited about their learning and creating advanced projects including apps, games, websites, augmented reality and virtual reality content.

Rural Regional & Remote

Michele Lally As a part of a paddock-to-plate farming family, Michele recognised they were not the only farmers that were experiencing difficulty in getting stock slaughtered viably. Australian Micro Abattoirs was the innovation – a solution that encompasses all requirements needed to deliver a fully licensed, small-scale abattoir on farm, reducing the gap between producer and consumer.
Dr Katherine Tuft Katherine manages the Arid Recovery Reserve, a 123 km2 predator-proof fenced reserve. It’s a living laboratory for testing ecosystem recovery techniques and innovative technologies to enable endangered species to thrive across the outback. She is working with other groups to help establish more fenced refuges.
Mary Retallack Mary is an agricultural scientist and third-generation viticulturist. Her innovation is the identification of native insectary plants which can be used to boost populations of predatory arthropods, and provide natural biological control of insect pests in production landscapes – for free.


Dr Chia-Chi Chien A Research Fellow at UniSA’s Future Industries Institute, Chia-Chi’s innovation is a microfluidic 3D tumour-on-a-chip: a platform for recapturing the complexity of tumour microenvironments.
Dr Katherine Tuft Katherine manages the Arid Recovery Reserve, a 123 km2 predator-proof fenced reserve. It’s a living laboratory for testing ecosystem recovery techniques and innovative technologies to enable endangered species to thrive across the outback. She is working with other groups to help establish more fenced refuges.
Eimy De Barros Eimy is creator of SABROSITO healthy desserts – an alternative for celiacs, diabetics, fitness and lactose intolerants in one bite. These are low carb / low Gi / keto / high protein treats made with premium ingredients, helping to address growing health problems in the community.

Social Impact

Professors Fiona Arney and Leah Bromfield Fiona and Leah are Co-Directors of the Australian Centre for Child Protection at UniSA. Their innovation is Target Group to Outcomes (TGO©), a new approach to ensuring and maximising the impact of programs and services aimed at preventing and responding to child abuse and neglect.
Kerry Jones Kerry’s innovation is a systems change incubator redesigning the way we live as we age. Collaborative initiatives will demonstrate new ways to live and provide care, and solutions will include changes in policy, commissioning, services, practice, peer networks, civic movements and more.
Kiri Hagenus Imagine as a child never being taken to a museum, the zoo, the city or the library, or having your parents speak to you about all the different jobs your relatives do. These issues are faced by too many families and children in Australia. Children’s University Australasia is an innovative way to create learning opportunities, so that educational pathways and career goals outside of these norms are seen as achievable.


Dr Mary-Louise Rogers Leading the only dedicated MND Research Laboratory in SA, Mary-Louise has developed a novel urine test to determine if drugs are working in clinical trials of motor neurone disease treatments.
Dr Marnie Winter Marnie’s work is in the development of a novel non-invasive prenatal screening technology to enable the detection of complex fetal genetic abnormalities with a blood test during pregnancy. This approach could allow for the early detection of genetic abnormalities and the detection of life-threatening pregnancy complications such as pre-eclampsia.
Felicity Hamilton While working as a Patient Safety and Quality Consultant, much of Felicity’s time was spent preparing for accreditation which did not add value to the patient experience. Recognising the problem was widespread, she created a software solution: ONEVAULT. This software helps health care, age care and NDIS providers streamline their clinical governance systems with online software to save money and get 24/7 Accreditation Ready.

Since 2014, the annual Winnovation Awards have recognised and encouraged innovative women in South Australia. The awards were established by Women in Innovation, a board of volunteer professionals.

Winners will be announced at an awards night at the National Wine Centre on Thursday 18 October. Tickets are available here.