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Innovative projects move closer to the market

Innovative projects move closer to the market

A crime scene DNA test kit, a faster means of testing water quality and a species-specific rat poison have gained investment from a Government scheme that bridges the gap between generating new knowledge and creating an 'investor-ready' commercial prototype.

The Pre-seed Accelerator Fund (PSAF), managed by the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, has just invested $770,000 in three new projects as part of its single project application process.

The objective of the PSAF is to accelerate the commercialisation of new knowledge that arises from research carried out by the public sector and not-for-profit private sector research organisations. The eligible projects will receive up to 33% of the overall cost from the Foundation.

The Foundation's Manager of Economic Investments, Kerry Martin, says the Fund complements the Foundation's existing Technology for Business Growth scheme, which helps businesses develop innovations - but is not available for public sector organisations.

"This investment provides support for public sector organisations to help them focus on the skills required for commercialisation that will accelerate wealth creation from research and development.

"The applications for this most recent investment round were of high quality and we are confident that those chosen for investment will go on to become profitable ventures."

* The Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) has received investment to develop a prototype soil-DNA 'fingerprinting' kit that will compare and analyse the microbial DNA found in soil samples. ESR believes the kits have the potential to become a standard forensic tool; for example in the comparison of soil found at a crime scene with soil found on a suspect's shoes. The kits also have the potential to be applied for mainstream purposes such as biosecurity (Anthrax detection in soil) and environmental monitoring.

* Lincoln Ventures Ltd is to develop a commercial prototype for an instrumentation system that uses microorganisms to quickly measure organic pollution in water, called MICREDOX(r). The system consists of an electronic measuring instrument and a biological consumable, packaged in an easy to use format and is around 100 times faster than current tests on the market. Besides wastewater testing, the technology has other promising applications, such as antibiotic susceptibility testing.

* Landcare Research New Zealand Ltd is aiming to produce a stream of rodenticide (rat poison) products that will be able to specifically target rats and remain safe for other animals such as birds, cats and dogs. There is a significant global market for rodent control products, especially those that are less environmentally harmful, such as Landcare's proposed products. There are estimated to be more than five billion rats worldwide, causing billions of dollars worth of losses through damage to field crops and stored food, as well as the transmission of disease to animals and humans.

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