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Turning clever science into commercial value

2015 KiwiNet Awards finalists turning clever science into commercial value

Hamilton, NZ, 30 April 2015 – Finalists for the third annual KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards, designed to celebrate commercialisation success within New Zealand’s universities and Crown Research Institutes, have been announced.

The clever science innovations that have crossed the divide between the research and business worlds include multi-story buildings from renewable resources, big data software, a sustainable alternative to polystyrene, flavour in hops, CT colour cameras that look inside the human body for better diagnosis, response to the PSA outbreak, an expert forensics DNA software system, and marine toxins enabling better global seafood safety.


“The 2015 Awards have uncovered more inspiring success stories of talented researchers pushing business to the frontiers of high-tech innovation. These unsung heroes of the research community are quietly making an enormous contribution to business innovation across a diverse range of sectors. Their work is delivering a new wave of products, services and processes that help to underpin strong economic growth in New Zealand built on cutting edge innovation.” says KiwiNet General Manager Dr Bram Smith.

The 2015 KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards Finalists are:

Researcher Entrepreneur Award

• Dr Ron Beatson, Plant & Food Research: New Zealand’s Hops Man – developing specialty hops

• Prof Andy Buchanan, University of Canterbury: Multi-story buildings from renewable resources

• Prof Phil Butler, University of Canterbury: Creating a colour CT imaging industry for NZ

• Dr Stephen J. Sowerby, University of Otago: Facilitating academic culture change with an applied science exemplar


Minter Ellison Rudd Watts Research & Business Partnership Award

• The Biopolymer Network (BPN) and Barnes Plastics: ZealaFoam™ - a sustainable alternative to polystyrene

• Institute for Innovation in Biotechnology at The University of Auckland and Comvita New Zealand Ltd - accelerating innovation by promoting research projects and producing commercially relevant outcomes

• Plant & Food Research and Zespri - A science and industry response to PSA outbreak

PwC Commercial Deal Award

• Cawthron Institute: Cawthron Marine Toxins - Enabling Better Global Seafood Safety

• Plant & Food Research: Revolutionising plant variety commercialisation - An evolution from transactional plant sales based royalties to participation in commercial success

• ESR: STRmix™ - An expert software system which allows analysts to resolve more DNA mixtures

• University of Waikato: 11 Ants Analytics - Big data software creating international interest


The BNZ Supreme Award will be presented to the entry which demonstrates overall excellence in all core areas of research commercialisation. A People’s Choice Award will also be presented.

The KiwiNet Awards judging panel comprises Dr Andrew Kelly, Executive Director at BioPacificPartners, professional director and Angel Association Chairman Dr Ray Thomson, director and executive advisor Helen Robinson, the founding CEO of TZ1, and Rob Heebink, R&D Executive at Gallagher Group.

Lead judge Dr Andrew Kelly says, “It’s remarkable to see such strong commercialisation stories come through year after year from our relatively small country. When KiwiNet set up these awards, it was to encourage and celebrate such activity because it’s so vital to our country’s growth - it’s great to see that it’s working.”

Paul Stocks, Deputy Chief Executive of MBIE's Science, Skills and Innovation Group, says commercialisation of research is important to New Zealand "Research commercialisation can be a driver of economic growth, which benefits all New Zealanders. KiwiNet is helping to create greater commercial outcomes from our publicly-funded research, and MBIE supports their collaborative approach.”

The Kiwi Innovation Network (KiwiNet) (www.kiwinet.org.nz), is a consortium of 15 universities, Crown Research Institutes and a Crown Entity established to boost commercial outcomes from publicly funded research. KiwiNet partner organisations include WaikatoLink, Plant & Food Research, Otago Innovation Ltd, Lincoln University, AUT Enterprises, AgResearch, University of Canterbury, Callaghan Innovation, Viclink, Landcare Research, Cawthron Institute, ESR, NIWA, Scion and GNS Science. Principal support is provided by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE).

The Awards are the pinnacle of KiwiNet activities designed to build awareness and inspire research commercialisation success. Sponsorship support is provided by BNZ, Minter Ellison Rudd Watts, PwC, MBIE and Sciencelens photography.

BNZ director – value chain, Jason Lewthwaite says KiwiNet bridges an important step in New Zealand’s economic future by enabling New Zealand innovators to develop successful export businesses.

“It is imperative that as a country we not only possess the capability and fortitude required to develop great ideas, but we take the next step and launch these products onto the international stage.

“By understanding our international customers and developing bespoke products for these markets New Zealand businesses can bridge the value gap between commodity and value-add products. Supporting this growth is what being the bank for New Zealand means to us."

All finalists will deliver a presentation in the final stage of judging on 17 June in Auckland. Winners will be announced at a reception that evening.

– ENDS –


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