KiwiNet Awards recognise NZ innovation

Scientists and business people are increasingly teaming up to produce some of New Zealand's most innovative export products. To celebrate their success the Kiwi Innovation Network will tonight hold its second annual awards.

Canterbury University's professor Keith Alexander wanted to develop a safer trampoline for his children. He figured he might be able to sell a few dozen. Now more than 40,000 spring-free trampolines are exported every year.

"I am surprised at the success of the trampoline. At first I was thinking in terms of perhaps I could sell 30 a year in New Zealand, that would be good," says Dr Alexander.

Other finalists in the KiwiNet Awards include a technology that allows new uses for titanium in the aerospace and marine industries, and a product that allows fishing boats to only catch the right-sized fish.

Plant and Food Research helped develop that one, as well as the use of pheromones to disrupt the mating of insects, so they can't destroy fruit crops.

The KiwiNet Awards celebrate products developed from research by universities and Crown research institutes.

"We are really good in this country at innovation, but we just don't get it right often enough on the commercial, the next step," says awards judge Andrew Kelly. "So this award is all about trying to promote, recognise, reward, put on a pedestal, the examples we have of good commercialisation."

StretchSense has already made the leap from the lab to profitability. University of Auckland associate professor Iain Anderson says the product uses stretchable sensors to monitor the movement of the body for the sports and healthcare industries.

"We are talking to a couple of big players, but the bottom line is that we are in the black. We are making money," says Dr Anderson.

It's hoped these companies will earn export dollars and inspire the next generation of innovators.

3 News

source: newshub archive