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Novatein Scientist Wins IAward For Research

Novatein Scientist Wins Innovators Award For Bioplastics Research

Dr. Johan Verbeek has won a Bayer Innovators Award for his research on turning sustainable or waste products into new materials – with a reduced impact on the environment.

Dr. Verbeek, a senior lecturer at the University of Waikato’s School of Science and Engineering, and the lead scientist for Novatein, was the winner of the Agriculture and Environment category.

The awards acknowledge New Zealand’s leading innovators – those who use their knowledge and commitment to improve the lives of New Zealanders and the wider world.

The judges were impressed that Dr. Verbeek’s research on turning low value or waste animal protein into biologically-derived plastics or bioplastics and biocomposites is being commercialised.

The judges said, “New Zealand produces a large amount raw animal blood and turning it into goods made from plastic polymers is the basis of a viable industry.”

A new company, Novatein Limited, has been established by WaikatoLink, the commercial arm of the University of Waikato, to patent and commercialise Dr. Verbeek’s innovative process. The company is expected to have the new biodegradable product on the market within five years.

WaikatoLink CEO Mark Stuart said,"Novatein has the kind of high-growth global market potential that we look for in new technologies. The key to commercialisation is to attract investors for ideas that have just come out of the lab.”

"Novatein is one of seven investments Endeavour Capital has made in WaikatoLink companies. It's testament to the good relationship we've built with them. They know that we have a good, robust process for screening research ideas for commercial potential."

Novatein’s technologies are patent protected and offer compelling competitive advantages compared to traditional processes using traditional petrochemical-derived feedstock’s or diverted primary production, such as corn.

Around 1.5kg of bioplastic can be produced from 1kg of blood meal, a waste product from the meat industry. The end products range from packaging through to consumer products.

There is a growing global demand for sustainable, biodegradable and recyclable plastic products due to an increased environmental awareness.

Dr David Saul the principal scientist at ZyGEM, another WaikatoLink spinoff company, was a finalist in the Research and Development category of the awards.

The six category award winners in the Bayer Innovators Awards are:

· Agriculture and Environment: Johan Verbeek, University of Waikato
· Science and Health: Olaf Diegel, AUT University
· Design and Engineering: Chris Mardon and Tom Mackenzie, Energy Mad
· Information Technology and Communications: Mike Carden and Mark Hellier, Sonar
· Manufacturing: David Percy, Pertronic
· Research and Development: Ray Avery, Medicine Mondiale

ENDS

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