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Winners for bio-tech competition announced

March 18 20054

Winners for bio-tech competition announced

A machine that monitors the exercise schedules of physiotherapy patients, a landfill cap which helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and a novel treatment for stroke victims are among the winning ideas in The University of Auckland’s Inaugural Chiasma I-Volve Challenge.

Chiasma, an initiative aimed at addressing the need for well-rounded, enterprise-savvy biotech scientists in New Zealand, is an innovative programme designed by students for students.

The Chiasma I-Volve Challenge, a unique biotech ideas competition, invites students to present a two-page description of a novel biotech idea. All entries were judged by leading scientists and the top three entrants received a total of $6500 at an awards ceremony at the University.

Guest speaker at the awards ceremony, Professor Ross Clark, founder of NASDAQ listed biopharmaceutical company Tercica, says he is encouraged by the concept.

“The University of Auckland is a world-class centre for discovery and innovation. It is very encouraging that students at the University have taken the initiative to form Chiasma as a link between the University and the biotech industry.

“This illustrates that they understand the importance of translating University-based innovation into an enterprise culture. Such initiatives, by tomorrow's leaders, highlight the bright future of New Zealand’s biotech industry,” says Professor Clark.

Chiasma CEO Priv Bradoo says the aim is to foster biomedical innovation, and while the ideas may not be the next million dollar business, I-Volve encourages students to think beyond the lab.

“I-Volve is unique because it creates a space where you are pushing new ideas. It is encouraging healthy, creative thinking and promoting an enterprise culture – and we need both to grow the biotechnology industry as well as the economy.

Chief Judge Professor Joerg Kistler says the judging panel was delighted with the quality of the entries and selecting the winners was not an easy task.

“It was exciting to see such a wide range of novel ideas being presented by students, and it shows that there is a lot of talent that can contribute to the development of the knowledge economy in New Zealand,” says Professor Kistler.

At the awards ceremony, winners presented their ideas as a 55-second elevator pitch.

Students can also expand their ideas and enter it into spark*, The University of Auckland’s entrepreneurship challenge.

“With I-Volve our aim was to start the thinking. Through spark*, students can turn their two-page concept into a proposal for a commercially viable project and who knows where their ideas will take them,” says Priv.

Winning Ideas

1st equal ($3000)

Bioflexion: a product that is capable of accurately measuring the extent and frequency of exercises.

Entrants: Matthew Lim, Alexander Howard, Kieran O'Brien

Microbially enhanced landfill cap for the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions

Entrants: Soriya Em, Catherine Wong, Kelvin Lau

3rd ($500) A novel treatment for stroke and cardiovascular ischemia

Entrants: Sussane Frank, Colin Green, Sheryl Feng, Stephanie Cheung


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