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School Wins Biotechnology And Inventor Funding

Tuesday 13th August 2002

Business School Wins Biotechnology And Inventor Funding


The University of Auckland Business School will receive $446,900 from Industry New Zealand for two innovative projects promoting biotechnology and helping inventors take their ideas to market.

The projects are further confirmation of the Business School’s leading role in developing the research and ideas needed to grow a knowledge-based economy and society.

Industry New Zealand’s Enterprise Culture and Skills Activities Fund announced last week it is granting $400,000 to a “developing entrepreneurship in biotechnology industry innovation” project project, led by Associate Professor Shantha Liyanage.

The project will run for two years, starting next month, and is targeted at school and university students, secondary school teachers, and public and private sector employees.

A programme for inventors, overseen by Associate Professor Marie Wilson, research director of The Icehouse, the incubator affiliated with the Business School, will receive $46,900 from the same source.

The Government has identified biotechnology as one of the key sectors in future economic drivers of the knowledge economy.

High quality science graduates are needed to help bring this about, but attracting school students into science subjects is difficult, says Dr Liyanage.

“Schools, universities and business need to encourage students to take up science, so that we can create the lifelong learning paths needed for innovation to thrive. The best time to encourage the development of innovation skills is when students are still young.”

The project aims to provide students in 20 Auckland region schools with a basic knowledge of biotechnology innovation and some direct industry exposure through “on the job” participation. The project will then be extended to another 20 schools throughout the country.

Training will be offered to up to 30 secondary school teachers — of biology, chemistry and technology — and some 200 university-level students will also be targeted.

Industry training programmes will help up to 150 industry employees learn best practice models of managing biotechnology innovation.

A learning network fostered by the project will draw together businesses, research institutions, students, teachers, universities and the public, while a biotechnology innovation roadshow will tour the concept to schools around the country.

Several leading biotechnology companies are working with the Business School on the project, including Genesis Research & Development, Protemix and Invitrogen. Discussions are being held with other potential private sector partners, and the aim is to take the project nationwide.

International partners include leading academics at the University of Queensland and Yale University.

The second Business School initiative to receive Industry New Zealand funding, the programme for inventors, entails workshops teaching Auckland-based inventors how to assess and bring their ideas to market.

Resources initially developed for the Auckland region will subsequently be available to inventor groups throughout the country. Over three months, participants will be taught marketing, prototyping, production, distribution, patenting and development of business plans.

This builds on the expertise developed in the Business School and The Icehouse, which was set up a year ago by the Business School and eight corporate partners.

“We are already working within the University to increase entrepreneurial activity,” says Dr Wilson.

“With the help of Industry New Zealand, this new programme will allow us to reach out to another group of innovators who are historically ill-equipped to bring their ideas to market.

“Too often bright ideas fail to make money and create jobs because their originators have trouble developing them into viable commercial businesses. The workshops aim to help break those shackles,” says Dr Wilson.


Ends

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