Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search

 

Turning brain scanning on its head with smaller MRIs

Turning brain scanning on its head with smaller MRIs

WELLINGTON, NZ – 29 November 2018 – Wellington researcher Ben Parkinson has received a boost from KiwiNet to help commercialise his game-changing compact superconducting magnets for smaller, next-generation, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) systems.

The new magnet technology will enable more portable systems to be developed, such as helmet-style systems for brain scanning, opening up new possibilities for how and when MRI systems can be used in both clinical and non-clinical settings.

Parkinson, a senior engineer at Victoria University of Wellington’s Robinson Research Institute, was awarded a place in the KiwiNet Emerging Innovator Programme to progress his cryogen-free low temperature superconductor (LTS) magnets that only require water and electrical connections to stay cool when used in an MRI system. This contrasts with existing larger MRI magnet technology that requires liquid helium to stay at a low enough temperature to work and produce high quality images.

Parkinson says, “I’m really pleased to have successfully developed this first prototype. We think it’s the first time a New Zealand team has manufactured a cryogen free LTS magnet, and our team at Victoria University of Wellington is now one of a handful of teams with this capability internationally.”

Through the Emerging Innovator programme, Parkinson also travelled to Brazil to progress a commercial opportunity with a Brazilian technology company who are now using his existing high-temperature superconductor (HTS) magnet technology in a compact MRI system for use in emerging industrial applications in the South American market.

Dr James Hutchinson, CEO of KiwiNet, says: “The ability to build LTS magnets opens up a number of new business opportunities for lower cost superconducting magnets. It’s fantastic to see the commercial traction Ben has made with his Brazilian commercial partner already through the programme, and we expect to see new applications follow as the partnership develops.”

Parkinson has also developed a prototype helmet-style MRI magnet, in a half-scale version, for a highly novel brain imaging system project being led by the Centre for Magnetic Resonance Research at the University of Minnesota. Parkinson is a participant in the significant project, which is being funded by the National Institutes of Health.

He says, “The KiwiNet programme has allowed me to complete an important de-risking step in the development process for the National Institutes of Health project and we’re now ready to build the full-scale helmet-like prototype, which completely excludes the shoulders and has a window through the magnet to help reduce patient claustrophobia.”

Hutchinson sees enormous market potential in this new portable MRI system. “This project presents a real opportunity to move MRI brain imaging from the confines of large imaging suites to essentially anywhere with electrical power. This opens up a world of new possibilities for neurological research.”

Viclink, the commercialisation office of Victoria University of Wellington, has worked closely alongside Parkinson. Dr Anne Barnett, Viclink’s CEO, and senior commercialisation staff have helped rapidly progress patents for the brain imaging magnet, as well as support other commercialisation activities.

Dr Barnett says, “Working alongside KiwiNet and other partners, we were able to help Ben secure his partnership with a Brazilian company that will supply both technology for his new MRI system and access to relevant markets. We’re wrapping expert support around him to make sure he maximises the potential of his intellectual property position and commercial opportunities.”

Parkinson says the experience has enabled him to think differently about his work. “It’s no longer just about how clever the science is; commercialisation is about knowing which problems you’re solving, who wants your technology, and how it can be developed and sold in the market to make an impact.”

Dr Hutchinson says, “Ben doesn’t just have a clever idea, he has what it takes to work closely with industry and commercial mentors to develop his technology. We need more scientists like him, striving to transform their cutting-edge discoveries into new marketable products and services that will change the game for New Zealand.”

The KiwiNet Emerging Innovator Programme is open to early career researchers based at universities and Crown Research Institutes across New Zealand. Programme recipients receive expert legal advice from KiwiNet corporate partner MinterEllisonRuddWatts and IP advice from Baldwins, as well as funding from the Norman Barry Foundation, which owns the Quality Hotel Parnell Limited.

John Smith, Chairman of the Norman Barry Foundation, “Our goal is to make a positive impact in New Zealand. Projects like Ben’s really demonstrate the value of supporting these young researchers to take their clever new ideas to market.”

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Science Media Centre: Funding For R&D In New Zealand – Expert Reaction

Research, Science and Innovation Minister Dr Megan Woods has today announced $401.3 million funding for research and development through Budget 2020 and the COVID Response and Recovery Fund. The fund includes $150 million for an R&D loan scheme, ... More>>

ALSO:

Maritime NZ: NZ Joins Global Initiative Keeping Ports Open And Freight Moving

New Zealand has joined an international port authorities’ global initiative for safe and efficient movement of goods and shipping during the COVID-19 crisis. World-wide, 56 port authorities have agreed how they will work together facilitating maritime ... More>>

ALSO:

National: National Backs Businesses With $10k JobStart

National will provide a $10,000 cash payment to businesses that hire additional staff as part of our commitment to keeping New Zealanders in jobs, National Party Leader Todd Muller and Finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith have announced. Our JobStart ... More>>

ALSO:

DIY Law: Government Exempts Some Home Improvements From Costly Consents

Homeowners, builders and DIYers will soon have an easier time making basic home improvements as the Government scraps the need for consents for low-risk building work such as sleep-outs, sheds and carports – allowing the construction sector ... More>>

ALSO:

Media Awards: The New Zealand Herald Named Newspaper Of The Year, Website Of The Year At Voyager Media Awards

The New Zealand Herald has been labelled a “powerhouse news operation” as it claims the two biggest prizes – Newspaper of the Year and Website of the Year – along with many individual awards at the 2020 Voyager Media Awards Website of the ... More>>

ALSO:

ASB Bank: ASB Takes The Lead Again With New Low Home Loan Interest Rate

ASB has moved again to support its customers, cutting a number of home loan rates, including the two-year special rate to a new low of 2.69% p.a. Craig Sims, ASB executive general manager Retail Banking says the reduced rate will be welcome news for many ... More>>

ALSO:

Nathan Hoturoa Gray: The Problems With Testing And Case Statistics For Covid-19

To begin to understand disease transmission in a country requires adequate testing of your population with properly vetted, accurate tests. As the world struggles to find what 'adequate percentage' of the population is necessary, (estimates predict ... More>>

ALSO:

RNZ: Fletcher Building To Lay Off 1000 Staff In New Zealand

The construction company will cut around 10 percent of its workforce as it struggles with the fallout from Covid-19. More>>

ALSO:

Can Pay, Won't Pay: Cashflow Moves Urged

Government Ministers are asking significant private enterprises to adopt prompt payment practices in line with the state sector, as a way to improve cashflow for small businesses. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Why We Should Legally Protect The Right To Work From Home

For understandable reasons, the media messaging around Level Two has been all about “freedom” and “celebration”, but this is not necessarily going to be a universal experience. When it comes to workplace relations, Level Two is just as likely to ... More>>

ALSO:



New Zealand Government: Supporting Kiwi Businesses To Resolve Rent Disputes

The Government will legislate to ensure businesses that suffered as a result of the COVID-19 response will get help to resolve disputes over commercial rent issues, Justice Minister Andrew Little announced today. More>>

ALSO:


Science Media Centre: Understanding 5G Concerns – Expert Q&A


Recent attacks on cell phone towers have brought concerns over the rollout of 5G technology into sharp relief.
While scientific research has consistently shown that the technology does not adversely affect human health, public concerns about its impact have spread around the world, fueled in part by growing misinformation online. The SMC asked experts to comment... More>>

ALSO:


Trade: Record Monthly Surplus As Imports Dive

Imports in April 2020 had their biggest fall since October 2009, resulting in a monthly trade surplus of $1.3 billion, Stats NZ said today. “This is the largest monthly trade surplus on record and the annual goods trade deficit is the lowest ... More>>

ALSO:


Media Blues: Stuff Chief Executive Buys Company For $1

Stuff chief executive Sinead Boucher has purchased Stuff from its Australian owners Nine Entertainment for $1.
The chief executive was returning the company to New Zealand ownership, with the sale is expected to be completed by 31 May.
"Our plan is to transition the ownership of Stuff to give staff a direct stake in the business as shareholders," Boucher said in a statement.... More>>

ALSO:

RNZ: Bar Reopening Night 'much, Much Quieter'

Pubs and bars are reporting a sluggish first day back after the lockdown, with the fear of going out, or perhaps the joy of staying home, thought to be a reason for the low numbers. More>>

ALSO:

Stats NZ: New Zealand’s Population Passes 5 Million

New Zealand's resident population provisionally reached 5 million in March 2020, Stats NZ said today. More>>

NIWA: Seven Weeks Of Clearing The Air Provides Huge Benefits: Scientist

Seven weeks of lockdown has provided evidence of how pollution can vanish overnight with benefits for the environment and individuals, says NIWA air quality scientist Dr Ian Longley. Dr Longley has been monitoring air quality in Auckland, Wellington ... More>>

ALSO:

Government: Milestone In Cash Flow Support To SMEs

A significant package of tax reforms will be pushed through all stages in Parliament today to throw a cash flow lifeline to small businesses. More>>

ALSO: