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UC researcher takes top prize at 2015 KiwiNet Awards


UC researcher takes top prize at 2015 KiwiNet Awards

18 June 2015


University of Canterbury civil engineer Professor Andy Buchanan has won three awards at the annual KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards in recognition of his innovative work into the development of a new system to construct multi-storey buildings using timber.

Professor Buchanan, Emeritus Professor of Timber Design at UC, was presented with the Researcher Entrepreneur Award, the People’s Choice Award and the BNZ Supreme Award.

The KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards are designed to celebrate commercialisation success within New Zealand’s universities and Crown Research Institutes. The 2015 winners were announced in Auckland last night.

The Researcher Entrepreneur Award is presented to an entrepreneurial researcher who has made an outstanding contribution to business innovation, or has created innovative businesses in New Zealand through technology licencing, start-up creation or by providing expertise to support business innovation.

Professor Buchanan was one of four finalists in the Researcher Entrepreneur Award category. Among them was fellow UC academic Professor Phil Butler, whose company, MARS Bioimaging, is developing a colour x-ray scanner which could revolutionise medical imaging.

The BNZ Supreme Award is awarded to the entry that demonstrates overall excellence in all core areas of research commercialisation, and the People’s Choice Award recognises the presenter who has been voted by their peers as showing research commercialisation excellence that is well presented and inspires others.



Emeritus Professor Buchanan has undertaken pioneering research at UC which has led to the development of a new system of constructing earthquake-resistant, multi-storey buildings using post-tensioned structural timber, referred to as Pres-Lam (pre-stressed laminated timber).

This research by Professor Buchanan and his team has initiated a step-change in the perception of structural timber, allowing direct competition with concrete and steel for large span and multi-store buildings. He is also involved in commercialising these timber building products with industry partners.

University of Canterbury Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Steve Weaver said he was thrilled Professor Buchanan had been recognised for his world-class research.

“Professor Buchanan’s innovative work has led to resurgence in the use of timber in multi-storey buildings and this award is fitting recognition of the impact his work has had in the field of structural engineering worldwide.”

Finalist and UC physicist Professor Butler has founded two technology companies – MARS Bioimaging Ltd and Medical Laser Developments Ltd.

MARS Bioimaging stemmed from Professor Butler’s involvement in an international science collaboration led by CERN to develop a colour x-ray detector. The company is currently in the process of developing a human colour x-ray scanner that could provide colour images of the internal structure of the body, enabling better diagnoses.

Professor Weaver said Professor Butler’s work has huge potential to revolutionise the medical imaging industry and his nomination as a finalist in the Researcher Entrepreneur Award category recognised the impact his research could have on health services worldwide.

“Both Professor Butler and Professor Buchanan are leaders in their fields and the recognition they have received through these awards shows that researchers at the University of Canterbury are making innovative contributions that are of benefit to New Zealand and its people.”

KiwiNet - the Kiwi Innovation Network - is a consortium of 15 universities, Crown Research Institutes and a Crown Entity established to boost commercial outcomes from publicly funded research.


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