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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.

    The KiwiNet Awards celebrate successful innovation in New Zealand. To explore the concept of innovation further in a New Zealand context, students could use this activity on unpacking innovation.

    Related content

    Take a look at some of the previous winners of the Kiwinet Awards in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

    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.

    Check out the KiwiNet website and their YouTube channel to view videos of the winners and finalists, information about the award categories, biographies of the judges and more.

      Published 23 September 2016, Updated 8 May 2019 Referencing Hub articles