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A new era in business innovation and commercialisation

A new era in business innovation and commercialisation

AUT University is making a public stance that research and education will shape the future of New Zealand business success with the appointment of Dr Rosanne Ellis to the role of Director – Research Strategy and Management.

Dr Ellis’s role will be pivotal in bringing together researchers, industry, funding agencies, fundamental and applied research, and government to create products and services that will inform policy decisions and provide real world solutions for end users.

Dr Ellis’s international career has provided her with experience in “de-risking investment”, meaning if a New Zealand company cannot find expertise to progress their business ideas, Dr Ellis will find them a match from her extensive contacts and use her business knowledge to help obtain funding.

“AUT, like New Zealand businesses, is young, dynamic and vibrant with research that can be applied to modern day problems. I want to make sure New Zealand companies are connecting with the best experts locally and internationally. Making the connection and seeing Kiwi companies succeed through the application of research and knowledge to solve real world problems is my passion,” says Dr Ellis.

“As part of that you have students working on projects who in-turn become employees, creating a win-win for the academic environment, teaching and industry. I want to ensure that what is being taught is relevant to industry to produce top graduates.”

Dr Ellis has a PhD in aquatic ecotoxicology, linked to the impacts on pulp and paper work on fish in the fresh water environment. Her studies took her to Germany and then Switzerland, where she worked at a small start-up. After five years in Europe, providing risk and environmental management consultancy services, Dr Ellis returned to work in New Zealand.

Dr Ellis has held business development and commercialisation roles with Industrial Research Ltd (now Callaghan Innovation) and URS NZ Ltd, working with clients across a diverse range of industry sectors, as well as local and central government agencies. Dr Ellis led the Foundation for Research Science and Technology’s Global Expert service – connecting New Zealand companies with local and international experts to overcome various business challenges.

Dr Ellis believes that a key challenge for New Zealand is not having local companies that can invest in large Research and Development (R&D) projects.

“The UK, for example, has science parks that have a university at the heart and big companies clustered around it. With 90 percent of New Zealand business being an SME, our long term ability to invest in R&D is just not on the same scale. An additional impact is that our government is not in a position to provide significant R&D funding support to industry compared with other countries.

“To offset this problem we need to help manage and grow research income from all external agencies, industry and government by creating a research culture based on strong partnerships and collaborations, and work with academics to ensure what they are doing is of value and importance to all.”

Dr Ellis begins the next chapter in her career with AUT on 4 August 2014 in a key leadership role with the primary responsibility being the management of AUT’s research, contestable research grant and contract processes, and the development of a whole-of-university research strategy around engagement with all external research stakeholders, including other universities, Crown Research Institutes, government departments, funding agencies and industry partners, both nationally and internationally.


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