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The winners of the fourth annual KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards were announced at the end of June 2016. The awards recognise the commercial success of scientific and technological ideas.

The awards are a unique opportunity to celebrate entrepreneurial spirit, research excellence and savvy business leadership. The winning research projects have been funded by government and showcase how scientific discoveries can lead to exciting products and services that contribute to the growth of New Zealand’s economy.

2016 finalists share what excites them about using science to power innovation in this video.

These are the 2016 KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards winners, along with links to YouTube clips describing their projects.

Norman F. B. Barry Foundation Emerging Innovator Award

Joint winners:

Baldwins Researcher Entrepreneur Award

Associate Professor Cather Simpson, The University of Auckland and The MacDiarmid Institute: From sensors to sperm sorting - lighting up New Zealand’s economy with lasers

MinterEllisonRuddWatts Research & Business Partnership Award

Scion and Sonae Industria: Woodforce – a high-performance wood fibre-reinforced plastic

PwC Commercial Deal Award

AgResearch: ZeaKal – agricultural biotechnology

ZeaKal is an agricultural biotechnology company focusing on increasing the photosynthetic capacity and efficiency of plants, allowing crops to harvest more sunlight, capture more carbon dioxide and translate this into higher seed and grain yields.

Nature of science

The quest to make real-life applications inspires and motivates many scientists.

2016 Supreme Winner

Associate Professor Cather Simpson: From sensors to sperm sorting – lighting up New Zealand’s economy with lasers

Associate Professor Cather Simpson is a physicist and chemist at The University of Auckland and an expert in lasers and photonics. She is not new to commercialisation success. In 2010, she founded the Photon Factory, with over $2.5 million in commercial contracts.

More recent ventures include Engender Technologies Ltd and Orbis Diagnostics Ltd. Engender Technologies Ltd has commercialised the use of microfluidic and photonic technology to make sperm sorting by sex more efficient. Orbis Diagnostics Ltd is also working to help the dairy industry with technology developed to carry out ‘point of cow’ analyses of milk composition, on the spot, in the milking shed. This is a great example of science working with industry right at the grassroots level.

Activity idea

This unit plan describes how students can design a disposable product as a sustainable alternative to an existing product using potato starch. This encourages students to develop their design and innovation skills in the context of increasing plastics use. They will also gain understanding of the challenges of developing sustainable alternatives.

Innovation examples on the Hub

Innovation is an important driver of economic and social development in New Zealand. The Hub features a wide range of exciting examples, including activities like this selective sheep breeding activity.

Useful link

The KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards celebrate the achievements of individuals, teams and organisations turning research excellence into economic or social gain.

Videos of the 2017 winners can be seen here.

    Published 23 September 2016 Referencing Hub articles