Victoria University's Furneaux wins supreme award at 2017 KiwiNet awards
By Jonathan Underhill
July 13 (BusinessDesk) - Victoria University’s Richard Furneaux has won the BNZ supreme award at the 2017 KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards for his work on carbohydrate chemistry innovation.
Furneaux, who began his career as a synthetic chemist, now leads a team of 40 scientists as director of the Ferrier Research Institute at Victoria University, whose successes include the first New Zealand-developed drug to gain registration since the 1980s and a breakthrough synthetic vaccine to treat cancer, allergies and autoimmune diseases, according to the KiwiNet website.
Among his achievements was Richard was his involvement in the synthesis of forodesine hydrochloride, the active ingredient in an anti-lymphoma drug Mundesine, which has just been approved in Japan,. That makes it only the second New Zealand invented drug compound to become a registered drug product, according to a statement on the website.
"Furneaux's scientific nous and entrepreneurial spirit has generated tens of millions of dollars of economic activity for New Zealand over the past 25 years—a direct result of his own, and his team's, research endeavours," it said.
The supreme award is given in recognition of overall excellence in all core areas of research commercialization. Furneaux also picked up the Baldwins researcher entrepreneur award.
Canterbury University’s Geoff Rodgers won the Norman F. B. Barry Foundation emerging innovator award for his work on seismic damping for buildings and joint implant diagnostics.
KiwiNet said mechanical seismic dampers Rodgers developed "to dissipate kinetic energy of seismic waves penetrating a building structure" are in use at a hospital complex in Christchurch. He is also developing a new method for early detection of wear and tear of hip joint implants that monitors the sound vibrations transmitted from a patient's hip replacement implants.
Auckland University, Orion Health and Waitemata District Health Board shared the MinterEllisonRuddWatts research and business partnership award and UniServices won the PwC commercial deal award for Soul Machines - humanizing the interface between man and machines.
The awards recognize commercialisation successes at NZ universities and Crown Research Institutes.
"The quality and sophistication of presentations rises every year and applicants are really demonstrating how commercially savvy they are," said lead judge Andrew Kelly, executive director at BioPacific Partners.
(BusinessDesk receives assistance from Callaghan Innovation to cover the commercialisation of innovation.)