Australia’s Top Inventors

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Australia’s Top Inventors

Australians love to talk about innovation, and when we do, we tend to cultivate the tall poppies rather than cut them down. We know we should admire our inventors, because they are valuable assets to our society, and the innovation process, from start to finish, is difficult.

On occasion, innovation translates into a patentable invention and a patent publication pops into the patent system. Each patent right represents the hard slog of an idea developed by an inventor to the point of a product or service that has a potential for a return on investment. Who are these Australian inventors working year in and year out to create new and interesting things, and how can we all learn from them? Are they the key to driving Australia’s entrepreneurial future? They are the mentors amongst us.

To find the Australia’s top inventors at the cutting edge, we looked in the patent records for Australian entities that have been busy filing patent applications over the last 10 years and we extracted the inventor names. We looked for the influential inventors who are not only filing for patent rights, but whose patents are at the forefront of technology development globally in multiple technology sectors. These inventors are sitting on valuable and varied patent rights that pack a punch.

Australia’s Top Inventors

Here are the top Australian inventors selected by the criteria detailed in the Appendix. Let’s celebrate these entrepreneurs. We extend an invitation to the top nine we have identified to get in touch with us so we can connect you with the local start-up community who are looking for your brand of enthusiasm and assistance. Well done.

Top aussie inventors
We asked Larry Marshall, the CEO of CSIRO, to comment on Ian Maxwell: “Ian is a rare combination of brilliant inventor and great business person reminiscent of Sandra Lerner, the co-founder of CISCO.”

1.      Ian Maxwell has 11 globally influential inventions in the patent system that together have posed an obstacle to over 450+ other patent rights. Ian is a Technology Entrepreneur and Investor. He is currently CEO of BT Imaging, Chair of Instrument Works and Co-Founder of Accordia IP and Ian Maxwell Consulting. He is also Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology at the UTS. He has a PhD in Chemistry and has either founded or worked at Memtec, Allen & Buckeridge Venture Capital, Redfern Photonics (Venture Capital), Sydney University Polymer Centre, Eindhoven University, DuPont, James Hardie, Viva Blu, Enikos, Wriota and RPO.

2.      Gordon Wallace, AO, has 6 globally influential inventions in the patent system that together have posed an obstacle to almost 300 other patent rights. Gordon is a leading scientist in the field of electromaterials. He has developed new approaches to fabrication that allow material properties discovered in the nano-world to be translated into micro structures and macroscopic devices. Currently, Gordon is the Executive Research Director at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science and Director of the Intelligent Polymer Research Institute and the Australian National Fabrication Facility (Materials Node), both headquartered at the University of Wollongong.

3.      Alexander Virr has 6 globally influential inventions in the patent system that together have posed an obstacle to 270+ other patent rights. Alexander is currently the Chief Technical Officer of PAFtec, a Sydney based company that specialises in innovative and quality respirator design and manufacturing. Prior to joining PAFtec, Alexander was the Engineering Section Leader at Resmed. In addition to his corporate commitments, Alexander is the Director of Virtex Innovation Pty Ltd, a design consultancy that provides engineering design and management, design reviews and mentoring of young engineers.

4.      Kemal Ajay is the aspirating Smoke Detector Development Leader at Xtralis, a privately held firm that manufactures smoke detection, gas detection and video surveillance security products for the early detection, visual verification, and prevention of fire and intrusion threats.

5.      Micah Atkin is a highly motivated research and development manager who has been privileged to help develop new products and grow the businesses of many high tech life-science startups, SMEs and multinationals.

6.      Richard Hoare is currently the Design & Innovation Director at Breville Group Limited, an Australian manufacturer and marketer of small home appliances, founded in Melbourne in 1932.

7.      Angus Gidley-Baird is associated with Biosceptre a UK headquartered biotech with a major presence in Sydney developing next-generation cancer therapeutics.

8.      Ben Van Der Linde is the Manufacturing Manager of Aglo Sytems a company that provides commercial, retail and industrial LED lighting solutions Australia wide.

9.      David Scrimshaw has founded and managed a number of successful Australian companies including Demain International and Ozito Industries Pty Ltd.

10. Position Vacant: Insert your name here?

Our criteria left position 10 vacant; watch this space.


We used the Derwent Innovation patent database hosted by Clarivate Analytics (formerly Thomson Reuters). Data retrieved 24 August 2017 from DWPI and DPCI Enhanced Derwent Data (String: “(PRC=(AU) AND DPCI>=(10) AND DPB>=(20070101)) NOT CO=(inc) NOT CO=(corp) NOT CO=(llc)”). We looked for inventions filed by Australian companies (AU tag in the Assignee/Applicant field): total records 1765. We exported the inventor data for analysis.

In order to qualify for further analysis, the inventor had to meet these basic requirements:

1.      Prolific patenting: To have been named on at least 5 patent rights since 2007 (inventor is named on number of patent rights > 5).

2.      Exceptionally influential: Each of those at least 5 patent rights had to have posed an obstacle to another invention in at least 10 different instances (invention has a DPCI* citation count > 10).

In order to sort the inventors, we weighted the total number of inventions (sorted by total number of influential inventions in the dataset).

Other criteria:

3.      Removing self-citations: At least some of the citations for each patent right had to be “Examiner” generated and not “Applicant” generated (to remove self-citations) (% of Examiner Citations = 100%).

4.      Posing a novel obstacle: At least some of the Examiner generated citations had to be X citations for “novelty” or “inventive step absent combination” (% of X citations > 0%).

5.      Technological diversity: The inventor had to have filed patents in at least 3 distinct technology sectors (A, B, C, D, E, F, G) as indicated by the International Patent Classification (IPC) codes assigned to the invention (IPC > 3).

Top Australian inventors

*we used the Clarivate Analytics Derwent Patent Citation Index (DPCI®), which is a superior citation analysis tool.

Citation analysis using DPCI®: A patent can be granted for an invention that is (amongst other things) new and not obvious. As a patent application passes through the patent system it will be examined by the Patent Office for (amongst other thing) how new and non-obvious it really is. During that examination process, an invention may be found to be similar (X/Y) or the same (X) as technology already available in the published literature. The patent application under examination may attract some “Examiner citations” from the published art that are effectively obstacles to the patent applicant going on to achieve patent protection. The citations accrue against an invention. The citations are de-duplicated by DPCI® to ensure that there is no double counting as multiple family members of an invention pass through the patent system.


  • by Nicola Maxwell, Principal, Head of Engineering, Registered Patent Attorney
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