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Suckling first chair of university-industry body

24 March 2006
- for immediate use

ATTENTION: Editor, Chief Reporter, Business Editor

Suckling first chair of university-industry advisory body

The vast commercial experience of prominent New Zealand businesswoman Sue Suckling is being drawn on to help build a “culture of enterprise” in biotechnology at Lincoln and Canterbury universities.

On 8 March the Minister for Tertiary Education, Dr Michael Cullen, announced the award of $2.4 million from the Tertiary Education Commission’s Growth and Innovation Pilot Initiatives programme for a joint Lincoln University/Canterbury University project called “Building a University Enterprise Culture”.

The funding will be used to bring in private sector biotechnology science entrepreneurs to interact with students and researchers; enhance courses to prepare students for the commercial world; and to appoint entrepreneurial research experts to help identify commercial potential in research projects.

This week (w/c20 March) Ms Suckling, a former Business Woman of the Year and foundation Chair of the State Owned Enterprise AgriQuality Ltd, was elected the first Chair of the project’s Joint Industry Advisory Board.

The Lincoln/Canterbury University project is one of 12 tertiary sector projects included in the latest Growth and Innovation Pilot Initiatives round, in which nearly $11 million in funding has been allocated.

The Growth and Innovation Pilot Initiatives scheme supports pilot projects between tertiary education organisations and businesses. It is based on the Government’s belief that if New Zealand is going to be transformed into a high wage, knowledge based economy it must encourage greater collaboration between the tertiary education sector and industry.

Tertiary Education Minister Michael Cullen says the Government’s aim is to encourage tertiary education organisations and businesses to build connections, share knowledge and expertise and develop entrepreneurial and commercial skills.

The Industry Advisory Board under Sue Suckling will work with Lincoln and Canterbury universities specifically in the area of biotechnology.

Ms Suckling says that New Zealand is peculiarly well sized to make a university-industry initiative like this work.

“There are tremendous existing networks and linkages between industry and the universities,” she says. “People tend to know one another and to have worked with one another in different contexts.

“There’s huge good will too, that goes both ways, with individuals happy to facilitate their organisations to work together to benefit New Zealand as a whole.

“We have a strong sense of ‘belonging’ in New Zealand so that those in positions where they can make a beneficial difference, and are able to put the time in, are willing to do so.

“The whole goal is to benefit what I call ‘New Zealand Inc.’ and that’s what we plan to do with the Growth Industry Pilot Initiative.”

Industry representatives on the Advisory Board are: Sue Suckling; Dr Richard Garland, CEO, NZ Pharmaceuticals Ltd; Bruce Foulds, CEO, Keratec Ltd; Dr Mike Dunbier, foundation CEO of Crop and Food Research Ltd, a director of Dairy Insight Inc, and Chair of the Board of the National Centre for Advanced Bio-Protection Technologies; and Jim McLean of Genesis Research and Development Corporation Ltd. University representatives are Dr Chris Kirk, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Lincoln University and Professor Ian Town, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Canterbury. Project Leaders are Dr Garth Carnaby at Lincoln University and Dr Bill Swallow at the University of Canterbury.


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