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University of Auckland seeks new tech opportunities

University of Auckland seeks new tech innovation opportunities in Japan

Tuesday, September 24, 2019 – New Zealand entrepreneurs and researchers are set to benefit from a Memorandum of Understanding signed between Auckland UniServices, the commercialisation company of the University of Auckland, and The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) in Japan, to develop new technology innovation opportunities.

The signing ceremony took place on September 20 at Conrad Tokyo with New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Rt. Hon. Jacinda Ardern, in attendance. The MOU was signed by Dr Andy Shenk, representing the University of Auckland, and President of AIST Dr Chubachi Ryoji.

The agreement will enable the two parties to significantly increase technological cooperation in robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), advanced materials, and energy. The MOU aims to build a framework for close cooperation between students and researchers’ exchange and joint research projects.

Auckland UniServices chief executive Dr Andy Shenk says the collaboration will bring many more ideas and research to market readiness and beyond.

“We are excited to advance technological innovations with a research institute of the highest calibre and reputation. AIST will provide vital experience and contacts in the local market to give NZ entrepreneurs an edge when trying to leverage opportunities in Japan and other international markets. The exchange of knowledge will undoubtedly develop ground-breaking technology products that will create jobs and multi-million-dollar revenues for both nations,” says Dr Shenk.

“We were particularly keen to partner with AIST as they share a similar vision to UniServices in creating new technologies that not only improve the economy but also build a more sustainable and eco-friendly society.”

The University of Auckland is New Zealand’s leading university and is internationally diversified with staff and students from 110 countries. It is strongly research-led and its key faculties include Engineering, Science, and Medical and Health Science.

Each year UniServices works on some 1,200 projects with more than 300 New Zealand and global firms. In 2018, UniServices generated new research contracts worth $169.4 million, executed more than 84 patent licences and created 11 businesses to commercialise university research. Around $148 million was raised by UniServices’ spin-out companies in the last five years.

Notable companies that have spun out of the University of Auckland include:

• HaloIPT which was acquired by Qualcomm in 2011 and is developing wireless power transfer for electric vehicles (

• Soul Machines, a company that is humanizing the interface between man and machines (

• Tectonus – earthquake solutions for buildings (

• Vortex Power Systems – power generation from waste heat (

• Sapvax developing a novel chemistry platform for coupling immunogenic peptides to TLR2-agonist adjuvants to generate fully-synthetic, self-adjuvanting cancer vaccines (

• Energia Potior, transforming the future of aluminium smelting (


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