We usually think of Boundary Street as West End’s retail centre, so it may be surprising to learn that Qlicksmart one of Queensland’s award-winning exporters operates upstairs from a thrift shop along the strip.

Qlicksmart, established by Australian medical professionals Dr Neville Henry (AM) and Dr Michael Sinnott, was recently awarded Exporter of the Year at the Queensland Export Awards. The Premier of Queensland’s Export Awards are Queensland’s highest recognition of export achievement.

BladeFlask EVO Scalpel Blade.

Qlicksmart was recognised as the top exporter in the International Health category for this year’s awards. This award recognises the outstanding international success in health and wellbeing.

The idea for the company emerged in a Brisbane hospital emergency room in 1998 in response to the risks associated with sharp injuries from scalpel blades. Since then, its flagship product, the BladeFLASK, has become the world’s pioneering single-handed blade remover and sharps container, aiming to mitigate injuries and bloodborne diseases.

With success in hospitals and clinics, Qlicksmart has expanded its range to cater to the needs of Operating Theatre nurses, introducing new safety products across various surgical environments. The company has collaborated with healthcare inventors, resulting in products like the SnapIT, an ampoule opener ensuring safety for staff and patients, and the CheckCLIP, a medication identification clip to reduce medication errors.

Dr Sinnott said this month’s award validated years of work. “And to think that a medical device company based in West End has survived for 25 years is incredible.”

“Much more than that, that we were making healthcare staff around the world safer. And our belief is that that flows onto improved patient safety.”

“But the thing that trumps all that is the pride we have in our staff. We treat each other with respect and how that flows on. One of the things that occurred to me a few years ago is that the West End in Primary School says we all smile in the same language. And we do that. We are a very multicultural organisation.”

Dr Sinnott said he retired about five years ago and attributes current successes to the company’s ‘three stars’: General Manager Dr Chamindika Konara, Finance Operations Manager Sarah Liu, and Purchase Manager Aika Alexandrou.

The Qlicksmart team, Finance Operations Manager Sarah Liu, General Manager Dr Chamindaika Konara, and Purchase Manager Aika Alexandrou holding her baby.
Finance Operations Manager Sarah Liu, General Manager Dr Chamindika Konara, and Purchase Manager Aika Alexandrou holding baby Keaji.

Dr Konara was presented with the Women in International Business Award at the Premier of Queensland’s Export Awards. She is modest about the achievement, attributing it to the whole team’s work.

“I was just the recipient, but because of everyone who works here as a team”.

Dr Konara says it recognises the company’s diversity.

“Qlicksmart has recently established an employee benefit program, probably one of the leading schemes for our industry”.

Dr. Konara grew up in Sri Lanka and studied in Singapore and then at UQ. She said she applied to various medical device companies before starting as an intern at Qlicksmart about eight years ago. She held several positions in the company before taking on the General Manager role.

“I was 27 when I was given the role of General Manager. Because of how I look and how I sound, there is not a day that goes by where I’m not somewhat discounted. I think Michael and Neville took a big risk by giving me that position. So, it means a lot to me on a personnel level and also to be recognised for the work that we do as a team and the diversity we include.”

Dr. Konara has a background in both engineering and business. She is heading a diverse team, and under her guidance, the company has experienced substantial growth in export sales and overall profits.

Qlicksmart’s two biggest markets are the US and Europe, and its exports now reach over 50 countries, a significant rise from five years ago.

Dr. Konara’s contributions extend to education and advocacy, promoting safety protocols in the medical field through conferences and educational campaigns. She has played a vital role in establishing strong partnerships with export associates in a predominantly male-dominated sector.

“I think as Michael says, we work very hard as a team. The Premier said Queensland has more exports than New South Wales and to be part of that bigger role for the state and for the country means so much to be recognised on the national and local platform.”

Dr. Konara said the company’s primary focus is medical staff and patients, and they work closely with  Staff and Patient Safety, also founded by Michael Sinnott, to develop guidelines and standards to improve staff safety.

Aika Alexandrou is from Japan but settled in New Zealand when she was 15. She came to Australia at 22 to study for a Bachelor of Commerce in accounting and finance. She now manages Qlicksmart’s production of products, managing relationships from manufacture to shipment and warehousing.

“From my personal perspective, I think the award is not just recognition of the work that we do here currently, but also the work that the past employees involved in working with us have done in the past many, many years, “Ms Alexandrou said.

For Finance Operations Manager Sarah Liu, the award signifies the culmination of extensive work and reflects the leadership of Dr Konara over the past three years.

Qlicksmart team celebrations with a Halloween theme.
Qlicksmart team celebrations, Dr Neville Henry (AM) and Dr Michael Sinnott at back.

The team celebrated their remarkable wins at a Halloween-themed event, adding a playful touch to the celebration.

In a final word, Michael Sinnott said, “We wouldn’t be where we are now without the collective efforts of these three women who have paved the way for our success.”