By Sophie Boot
The first grant under a new fund to help scientists turn their clever ideas into commercial realities has been awarded to the developer of a "biological electronic nose".
Dr Andrew Kralicek, leader of the molecular sensing team at Plant & Food Research, was awarded a $20,000 grant by the KiwiNet Emerging Innovator Fund.
Mr Kralicek has developed biosensor technology which combines insect receptor proteins with man-made sensors to detect compounds in minute concentrations. The technology could be used to monitor air or food quality, detect pests or disease, or for security purposes.
He will work with Auckland-based Aeroqual, which designs and sells air-quality monitoring products.
Aeroqual's chief technology officer Geoff Henshaw said the technology was of significant commercial interest.
The Emerging Innovator Fund was set up by KiwiNet and the first grant was funded by the government's innovation agency, Callaghan Innovation, with the Norman FB Barry Trust financing 10 further grants of $20,000 each. The grants are designed to link researchers with commercial mentors.