Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 

Beautiful science and business acumen win top prize

Media Release – FRIDAY 26TH NOVEMBER, 2010

Beautiful science and business acumen win top prize

A team of Victoria University of Wellington researchers who have used world-beating science to develop technology that is earning millions of dollars has won New Zealand’s most valuable science prize.

The 2010 Prime Minister’s Science Prize has been awarded to the Magnetic Resonance Innovation team that is led by Professor Sir Paul Callaghan. The team includes four of his former PhD students who have gone on to become internationally respected scientists in their fields. The team members come from both science and engineering disciplines and their initial work was carried out at Massey University, relocating to Victoria through the 2000s.

The team is: Professor Paul Callaghan, Professor in the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences at Victoria; Dr Robin Dykstra, Senior Lecturer in the School of Engineering and Computer Science at Victoria; Dr Mark Hunter, Research Fellow in the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences at Victoria; Dr Andrew Coy, a physicist and Chief Executive Officer of Wellington technology company Magritek; and Dr Craig Eccles, a physicist and Chief Technology Officer at Magritek.

The Prime Minister’s Science Prize combines recognition and reward, with the winning team receiving $500,000 of which $400,000 is earmarked for ongoing research. The prize is awarded for a transformative science discovery or achievement which has had an impact on New Zealand or internationally. Four other Prime Minister’s Science Prizes were also presented today.

Professor Callaghan began researching the use of magnetic resonance (MR) as a probe of soft matter more than 35 years ago. The technique uses radio waves and magnetic fields to detect how molecules organise, orient and move. Professor Callaghan is now the world expert in some areas of MR research and his fellow team members have also made significant international impact.

Discoveries by the team are widely used in medical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and materials science, have resulted in new imaging methods and research techniques and are opening up opportunities to use MR methods in agricultural and industrial applications. Innovations from the team are also being used to research climate change in Antarctica.

Together the team has published 250 scientific papers, holds three patents and has a citation ‘h-index’ (which measures the productivity and impact of published work) of 46 which is the same as many Nobel Prize winners. It has attracted top students back to New Zealand and brought many of the world’s leading MR researchers from other countries here to work alongside the local MR research group.

In 2004, technology company Magritek was formed by Victoria and Massey universities and the five scientists. Revenue from the company’s initial product, aimed at the tertiary education market, has financed new product lines including spectrometers, a rock-core analyser being sold to the petrochemical industry, and smaller, portable MR devices for industries such as food processing and medicine.

Magritek is growing fast. It now has more than 15 employees and has increased revenue by 50 per cent in each of the five years it has been operating, through international sales. Two members of the MR Innovation team work for Magritek and the other three continue to generate knowledge at Victoria which feeds in to new products and technologies the company can sell.

Professor Callaghan says the team formed Magritek because it wanted New Zealand to benefit from its work: “We’d proved that you could stay in New Zealand and be world-class scientists but where was the value to the economy in what we were doing? The next logical step was to show that you can produce excellent science while also being business savvy.”

Professor Sally Davenport who heads the Management School at Victoria University says the MR Innovation team has been remarkably successful at commercialising its technology.

“Becoming a multi-million dollar company within the first five years is quite astounding for a New Zealand high-tech firm. The strong linkage they have created between a successful company (Magritek) and a successful research team is a great exemplar which other New Zealand research teams should look to emulate.”

Professor Callaghan has received many honours and awards during his career, but says he is especially proud to have been awarded the Prime Minister’s Science Prize.

“It’s a wonderful thing to be recognised by your own country and to have your work seen as valuable. But the most exciting thing is that this prize goes to the whole team. We are different ages and bring different skills but all have been captivated by this area of research which not only has enormous applicability in industry, medicine and environmental science, but is also just beautiful science.

“The thrill of teamwork is one of the greatest things in science. We have inspired and motivated each other to make discoveries and achieve things that none of us could have done on our own.”

The MR Innovation team plans to use the $400,000 of prize money tagged for ongoing development of its technology to establish a PhD scholarship to allow exceptional New Zealand graduates to undertake research in the field of magnetic resonance science or engineering.

The 2010 Prime Minister’s Science Prizes were presented to winners by the Prime Minister on Friday, 26th November, at The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron Clubrooms,101 Curran Street, Herne Bay, Auckland.

To find out more about the Prime Minister’s Science Prizes visit: www.pmscienceprizes.org.nz

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

RNZ: Porirua Most Expensive Region To Rent, According To Trade Me

A rental website shows this town is now New Zealand's most expensive region to rent a house, ahead of Wellington and Auckland cities. More>>

ALSO:


Stats NZ: Nearly 1,000 More Big Businesses Now Than Two Decades Ago – Media Release

There are now 2,690 big businesses in New Zealand employing more than 100 staff – nearly 1,000 or 58 percent more than 20 years ago, Stats NZ said today. Over the 20 years to February 2020, the total number of enterprises in New Zealand increased ... More>>

ALSO:

RNZ: Housing Boom Could Get Worse, Economist Warns

Economists are calling on the Reserve Bank to reinstate lending restrictions, warning the housing market is spiralling out of control. More>>

ALSO:

Westpac: Sets Out Plan To Go Cheque-Free

Westpac NZ has announced details of its plan to phase out cheques, after signalling in May that it would be supporting a move to other forms of payment. Cheques will cease to be available as a means of payment after 25 June 2021. Westpac NZ General ... More>>

ALSO:

NZTA: Major New Zealand Upgrade Programme Projects Go To Tender

Two major New Zealand Upgrade Programme projects are beginning tenders for construction. The New Zealand Upgrade Programme is a $6.8 billion investment to get our cities moving, to save lives and boost productivity in growth areas. The first Auckland ... More>>

Reserve Bank: RBNZ Seeks To Preserve Benefits Of Cash

The Reserve Bank – Te Pūtea Matua is taking on a new role of steward of the cash system “to preserve the benefits of cash for all who need them”, Assistant Governor Christian Hawkesby told the Royal Numismatics Society of New Zealand annual conference ... More>>

ALSO:


CERT NZ: Malicious Computer Virus Targeting New Zealanders

CERT NZ, the government agency which supports organisations and individuals affected by cyber security incidents, says a recent surge of increasingly sophisticated malware attacks is affecting everyday New Zealanders as well as large organisations. The ... More>>

ALSO:

Economy: NZ Small Business Recovery Continues In September

Xero, the global small business platform, today released its Small Business Insights (XSBI) for September revealing an uptick in small business jobs and year-on-year revenue growth in New Zealand. Nationwide, the average number of jobs in the small ... More>>

ALSO:


Courts: Businessman Eric Watson Sentenced To A Four-Month Jail Term

New Zealand businessman Eric Watson has been sentenced to a four-month jail term in the UK for contempt of court, TVNZ reports. More>>

OECD: Area Employment Rate Falls By 4.0 Percentage Points, To 64.6% In Second Quarter Of 2020

The OECD area employment rate – the share of the working-age population with jobs – fell by 4.0 percentage points, to 64.6%, in the second quarter of 2020, its lowest level since the fourth quarter of 2010. Across the OECD area, 560 million persons ... More>>

Spark: Turns On 5G In Auckland And Offers A Glimpse Into The Future Of Smart Cities

Spark turned on 5G in downtown Auckland today and has partnered with Auckland Transport (AT) to showcase some of the latest in IoT (Internet of Things) technology and demonstrate what the future could look like for Auckland’s CBD with the power of 5G. 5G is ... More>>

Stats NZ: Monthly Migration Remains Low

Since the border closed in late-March 2020, net migration has averaged about 300 a month, Stats NZ said today. In the five months from April to August 2020, overall net migration was provisionally estimated at 1,700. This was made up of a net gain ... More>>