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NZ universities leaders in creating wealth

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Figures show NZ universities leaders in creating wealth


AUCKLAND 29 October 2006: The market value of companies started by New Zealand universities grew more than four times between 2003 and 2005, according to figures compiled by Ernst & Young – to a total of more than $430 million.

The findings, when applied to overseas benchmarks by the University Commercialisation Offices of New Zealand (UCONZ), showed that New Zealand universities are matching or significantly outperforming overseas benchmarks:

- Per dollar invested, New Zealand universities produced more than twice the number of new companies than the United States average, and over 50% more than Canada.

- New Zealand universities produced patent applications on a par with US performance and 30% more efficiently than Canada, with New Zealand’s leading number of invention disclosures signaling strong future growth.

“These figures show exponential growth in some areas and confirm New Zealand is getting very good value for money from investment in university research,” said Dr John Chang, CEO of Canterprise Limited, which is a member of UCONZ.

Research, Science and Technology Minister Steve Maharey welcomed the results, saying: “Developments in universities to set up organisations that commercialise intellectual property are part and parcel of a modern university setting. The government applauds this rapid success.”

Dr Chang said the gains confirmed by the results may only be the beginning. “Most new companies and many licensing ventures are still at an early stage, so in many ways the best is yet to come,” he said.

“This is especially so as our spinout companies are substantial and high-quality. They are built on solid, core science and have potential for global impact.”

Because university research has a very high multiplier effect the actual gains to the economy go well beyond the direct figures quoted.

A recent NZIER report on the economic impact of the University of Auckland showed that for every dollar generated by university research another seven dollars of new value was created in the regional economy.

UCONZ launched in late 2005 to bring the commercialisation offices of all the country’s universities together and establish closer links with government and commercial research partners.

“By coming together in UCONZ, we are taking another key step forward in increasing the benefits of successful commercialisation for the whole of New Zealand,” Dr Chang said.

Currently different UCONZ members are involved in a range of activities including: licensing technology used by Samsung and Intel in making microchips; a revolutionary in-home power saving device at the centre of a $300 million deal in Europe; bringing a potential new treatment for Parkinson’s to clinical trial; marketing patented products in agricultural technology, and taking new battery technology and a treatment for asthma through to market.

The range of economic benefits for New Zealand arising from the universities’ commercialisation activity as detailed by Ernst & Young include:

- Between 2003 and 2005 the market capitalisation of companies founded using intellectual property developed by New Zealand universities grew from $76m to over $430m.

- The universities’ commercialisation organisations raised over $100m in capital for spinout companies, and

- The number of people directly employed by these new companies grew almost 200% from 198 to 356.

While UCONZ has been working with the Government and industry since its inception in 2005, the publication of these results marks the organisation’s first public release of material and reflects its commitment to acting as a catalyst for further growth, Dr Chang said.

Ernst & Young Partner Jon Hooper says while the results are an impressive start, he expects the numbers will continue to grow significantly as many of the companies are still at an early stage.

"In three years the university commercialisation offices have produced 23 start-up companies, with a combined market capitalisation of $430 million. Many of these companies have global potential and have already attracted significant interest from local and overseas investors."

ENDS

UCONZ members are:

Auckland UniServices Limited (The University of Auckland)

AUT Enterprises Ltd (Auckland University of Technology)

Canterprise Limited (University of Canterbury)

Lincoln Research and Innovation Office, (Lincoln University)

Commercialisation Office (Massey University)

Otago Innovation Limited (University of Otago)

Victoria Link Ltd (Victoria University of Wellington)

WaikatoLink Limited (The University of Waikato)

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