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$1 million R&D competition winner announced

Media Release
17 August 2009

Strictly embargoed until 6:30pm, 17 August 2009

$1 million R&D competition winner announced

Professor Peter Gluckman, Chief Science Advisor to the Prime Minister, today announced that New Zealand owned Resene Paints Ltd had won Industrial Research Ltd’s (IRL) What’s Your Problem New Zealand? competition.

Resene will be awarded up to $1 million in IRL R&D services to develop waterborne paints based on resins made from up to 80 per cent sustainable ingredients, breaking the long term reliance on gas and oil for high performance paints.

Resene Managing Director Nick Nightingale says “This competition presented an amazing opportunity for Resene to team its commercial experience with world leading science and revolutionise an industry. We’re committed to sustainable developments and we took a bold idea to the judges and showed them how it can be realised with IRL to ensure the financial benefits continue to flow to New Zealand.”

The announcement was made at a ceremony in Auckland this evening to celebrate the award winner and recognise the other nine finalists from a field of more than 100 entries.

Over the last six months What’s Your Problem New Zealand? has sought to raise the profile of R&D and encourage New Zealand firms to improve long term productivity and profitability through increased R&D investment.

Professor Gluckman commended IRL for reaching out to the business community.

“New Zealand has a fine heritage of scientific achievement. This initiative shows how scientists who are leaders in their field can collaborate with companies that are leaders in the marketplace to create solutions that solve some of the most intractable problems facing New Zealand industry today.”

IRL Chief Executive Shaun Coffey congratulated the winners and finalists.

“I take my hat off to all the finalists and of course extend my warm congratulations to Resene. This competition has put entrants through a multi-stage application process and required significant time and effort, over and above their day to day operations.

“What’s Your Problem New Zealand? has demonstrated to all of us at IRL that there is a real desire in the New Zealand business community across all sectors to utilise R&D to add value and raise productivity.”

Shaun Coffey said What’s Your Problem New Zealand? had already gone a long way to achieving its goal of raising the profile of R&D.

“Collectively IRL has been working hard to better engage with industry across a diverse range of sectors over the last few months. This competition has shown that IRL is prepared to put its money where its mouth is and the response from industry has been overwhelmingly positive.

“We look forward to working with not just the winner but also the other nine finalists and many of the other applicants over the coming months.”

A judging panel, led by competition Chief Judge and President of the Royal Society of New Zealand Dr Garth Carnaby, assessed the proposals put forward by the ten finalists against the following criteria:

• An accurate description of the business’ vision and direction, its target markets and market positioning.
• Clear definition of the technology problem or R&D need of the New Zealand company.
• Identification of key IRL capabilities required to develop the novel solution.
• Description of the impact, e.g. financial, spillover and / or economic benefits the $1m solution will have on the business.
• Identification of the additional resources within the company to take the novel solution into growing markets.

Dr Carnaby said he was impressed by the calibre of the entries. "A particularly intriguing aspect of the competition was the creativity generated by exposing the IRL scientists to the industry needs directly rather than via a third party. This interface is the likely source of inventions which neither party can achieve working alone."

Intellectual property firm, A J Park, is a sponsor of the competition and worked with the finalists to ensure that each had a strategy in place to protect their IP.

“We were impressed by the entries and we commend the finalists for being receptive to putting an IP strategy in place early in their project’s development. By assessing the IP issues at an early stage, businesses can address IP obstacles and enhance their own IP protection,” A J Park managing partner Greg Arthur said.

The ten finalists were Dynamic Controls, Fisher & Paykel Appliances, Glidepath, Gallagher Group, Group3 Technology, Mars Petcare NZ, Pacific Edge Biotechnology, PowerShield, Pultron Composites and Resene.

IRL is currently engaged with all the finalists with the view to assisting them to progress their proposals where possible.


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