The second KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards were held in 2014, at the Viaduct Events Centre in Auckland. Jenny Mangan and Meredith Ross, Science Learning Hubs team members, attended the finalists’ presentations and came away excited by the vibrancy and diversity in New Zealand’s innovation sector.
In this article, you can read about the winners and finalists in each KiwiNet Awards category. Follow the links at the end of the article for videos about the winners and finalists and coverage of the awards on television and social media.
What the finalists had to do
Over the course of the day, the KiwiNet Awards finalists (12 in total) each gave a short presentation about their work. They had the opportunity to describe the story behind their technology or innovation, to explain how their research-industry collaboration worked (where appropriate) and to outline their progress on the path to commercialising a product. Following their presentation, each finalist was questioned closely by the panel of judges – Dr Andrew Kelly, Ray Thompson and Helen Robinson.
If you're not making mistakes you're not making anything.Alistair Jerrett (Plant & Food Research)
AJ Park Commercialisation Collaboration Award
According to the kiwinet.org.nz website, the Commercialisation Collaboration Award “recognises the outstanding new collaborations formed between multiple research organisations working together to build national scale around a technology platform or address a business need”.
Titanium Technologies New Zealand (TiTeNZ) was the winner in this award category. TiTeNZ is a collaboration between the University of Waikato, Callaghan Innovation, GNS Science, Auckland University, the Titanium Industry Development Association (TIDA) and others. Its aim is to create a world-class, New Zealand-based platform in titanium powder metallurgy.
The presenters – Ian Brown (Callaghan Innovation) and Warwick Downing (TIDA) – described several titanium products that TiTeNZ has helped to develop, from a safety knife for the Team New Zealand America’s Cup syndicate to an artificial dog jawbone and a firearm suppressor.
The other finalist in this category was a Landcare Research and TBfree New Zealand collaboration. Together, the two organisations are working to eradicate bovine tuberculosis (TB) in New Zealand.
Researcher Entrepreneur Award
This award celebrates individual researchers who have either created innovative businesses or contributed strongly to business innovation.
Alistair Jerrett (Science Group Leader, Plant & Food Research) won the Researcher Entrepreneur Award. For 15 years, Alistair’s research has been devoted to finding new ways to harvest fish commercially – techniques that are humane, avoid bycatch of smaller fish and deliver fish that are rested and in excellent condition.
During his presentation, Alistair described the new harvest technology that he and others have developed – an ‘underwater aquarium’ that brings fish to the surface without the use of nets.
The other finalists in this category were Iain Anderson (Auckland University and StretchSense) for his work on artificial muscle technologies and Ian Yule (Massey University) who has developed the C-Dax Pasture Meter and other technologies to give farmers detailed information about their crops and pastures.
Minter Ellison Rudd Watts Research and Business Partnership Award
With this award, KiwiNet recognises that a strong working relationship between business and a research organisation can be of significant commercial value to New Zealand.
The winners of the award were Tait Communications and the Wireless Research Centre (WRC, University of Canterbury) for their long-standing partnership and their co-development of wireless communication technologies.
Fred Samandari (WRC) and James Kyd (Tait) described how closely Tait and WRC work together and explained that the partnership has made it possible for Tait to expand its business into new markets (including overseas markets).
The other finalists in this category were:
- Heilala Vanilla and Massey University, who work closely to develop premium value-added products from Heilala’s vanilla beans
- Precision Seafood Harvesting (Plant & Food Research, Ministry for Primary Industries and industry partners), who collaborate to develop technologies to transform the way that New Zealand fishes
- Plant & Food Research and ETEC Crop Solutions, who have worked together to develop new pheromone-based technologies to control insect pests in New Zealand.
Commercial Deal Award
The Commercial Deal Award recognises excellence in research commercialisation.
The winners of the Commercial Deal Award were GlycoSyn and Callaghan Innovation, for their work on kifunensine – a crucial ingredient in the manufacture of an enzyme-replacement therapy. Paul Benjes and Tony Davidson (GlycoSyn and Callaghan Innovation) described how GlycoSyn developed and patented a manufacturing process for kifunensine. As one of the few providers worldwide of pharmaceutical grade kifunensine, GlycoSyn generates millions of dollars of revenue annually – after all, on a per-gram basis, it is 20 times more valuable than gold!
The other finalists in this category were Springfree™ Trampoline, for the commercial success of their innovative trampoline (40,000 units now sold worldwide per year), and the C-Dax Pasture Meter (C-Dax and Massey University), which is sold worldwide and can benefit the average New Zealand dairy farm by $57,000 per year.
People’s Choice Award
The People’s Choice Supreme Award recognises overall excellence in research commercialisation. It was voted on by KiwiNet Awards attendees, after all the day’s presentations were complete.
The winner of the People’s Choice Supreme Award was Precision Seafood Harvesting (PSH), who are working to change the way New Zealand fishes. The consortium of Plant & Food Research, Ministry for Primary Industries and industry partners are developing humane fishing technologies that minimise bycatch and deliver rested fish. Alistair Jerrett, winner of the Research Entrepreneur Award, is a key member of the PSH team.
BNZ Supreme Award
The BNZ Supreme Award recognises overall excellence in the core areas of research commercialisation. It was awarded to Tait Communications and WRC, who also won the Minter Ellison Rudd Watts Research and Business Partnership Award.
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.