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Three Plant & Food Research finalists in 2018 KiwiNet Awards

Three Plant & Food Research innovations and scientists are amongst the 12 stunning finalists selected for the fifth annual KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards, which celebrate impact from science through successful research commercialisation within New Zealand’s universities and Crown Research Institutes.

KiwiNet Awards finalists (From left to right, top to bottom): Dr Philip Elmer, Dr Andrew Kralicek, Amarasate® extract (an extract of hops), and calocurb™ .

The 2018 Plant & Food Research finalists are:

Norman F. B. Barry Foundation Breakthrough Innovator Award: Dr Andrew Kralicek, Science Team Leader – Molecular Sensing, Consumer & Product Insights, for his research on harnessing insects’ receptors for commercial sensing. His technological breakthrough led to the development of a proof of principle prototype showing that insect odorant receptors can be used for the detection of miniscule amounts of volatile compounds. Possible commercial applications range from human health, pest and disease detection, food quality and defence technologies.

Baldwins Researcher Entrepreneur Award: Dr Philip Elmer, Team Leader – Integrated Disease, Plant Pathology, for his work on biological tools to control plant disease and reduce pesticides. His tools address a range of diseases including botrytis, a major disease affecting many crops, particularly wine grapes. He has introduced the GrapeFutures programme that created tools used by 75% of NZ wine growers to enhance sustainable disease control practices. He has also led the development of a new bio-bactericide for Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae (Psa) control, due to be released to kiwifruit growers in time for Spring 2018.

PwC Commercial Impact Award: Plant & Food Research for the development of Amarasate® extract, a 100% plant-based, world-first weight management extract. Amarasate® extract was found to be the most effective compound (out of more than 900 plants screened) to trigger the Bitter Brake™ – an evolutionary response whereby bitter compounds trigger a ‘stop eating’ signal in the brain. When coupled with patented capsule technology, the Amarasate® extract progressed through clinical trials and demonstrated that bitter compounds support a feeling of fullness or satiety. calocurb™, containing the Amarasate® extract, has recently been released in New Zealand and the USA by licensee Lifestream International.

The Kiwi Innovation Network (KiwiNet) is a consortium of 16 universities, Crown Research Institutes and a Crown Entity established to boost commercial outcomes from publicly funded research.

Winners of the KiwiNet Awards will be announced on 5 July.

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