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Rights: Kiwi Innovation Network Limited
Published 23 July 2015
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The Biopolymer Network is a New Zealand-based research company focused on producing bio-based products such as sustainable packaging and ingredients for industry.

The Biopolymer Network is a collaboration of three CRIs – Plant & Food Research, AgResearch and Scion. In 2015, the Biopolymer Network was nominated with a commercial partner, Barnes Plastics, for their ZealaFoam product in the KiwiNet Minter Ellison Rudd Watts Research and Business Partnership Award.

Dr Nigel Larsen, Science Group Leader at Plant & Food Research, and Steve Ranford, a senior scientist with AgResearch, explain the research focus of the Biopolymer Network.

Transcript

Voiceover
The Biopolymer Network is a New Zealand-based research company focused on producing bio-based products and processes for commercial applications.

Steve Ranford
The Biopolymer Network is a collaboration of three organisations – Plant & Food Research, AgResearch and Scion – and it’s involved with materials science essentially.

Dr Nigel Larsen
Talking about our interest in molecules that come from plant sources, like grains and pine trees, for example – they can be sustainably produced, and you can keep growing crops year after year.

Steve Ranford
These biomaterials can be used as the building blocks for replacing some of the materials that are not so good for the planet, and we can turn them into useful materials to replace those that have a useful life and then can degrade easily afterwards.

Voiceover
The Biopolymer Network is creating a range of bio-based products that have strong commercial potential.

Steve Ranford
Functional packaging is one area. Personal care is another area. Gelling products.

Dr Nigel Larsen
A really good example of a versatile plant material would be barley. We can end up with a gel-like material that can be used as the base for personal care products, and we’ve been developing those in conjunction with at least two New Zealand cosmetics companies.

Steve Ranford
You’ll end up with products that – some of them look like flyers, some of them have to have some more work done on them perhaps, some of them won’t fly at all.

Dr Nigel Larsen
But that is one of the major drivers for us, because it’s easy for us to spend a lot of time doing research and then finding that something is not of use to industry at all because it costs too much to make.

Steve Ranford
The commercial partner will do some test marketing, because they need to get some direction to feed that back to us. So it becomes a chain of events from the marketplace to the innovators. The innovators are all listening to the feedback and bouncing off each other. You’ll have AgResearch staff coming over to Plant & Food Research and up to Scion and finding a solution to a particular problem that one of the innovators is trying to overcome.

Dr Nigel Larsen
It provides an opportunity for New Zealand companies to be first on the ground with new sustainably based industries.

Acknowledgement
Video courtesy of Kiwi Innovation Network Limited
© Kiwi Innovation Network Limited, 2015