Innovation honoured at KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards

Assoc Prof Cather Simpson (Supplied)
Assoc Prof Cather Simpson (Supplied)

Twelve of New Zealand's most innovative projects competed for top awards in Auckland on Thursday night.

The KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards attracts the latest technology as well as marketing and business enterprises, and this year there were some intriguing entries.

Innovation honoured at KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards

Dr Carla Meledandri (R) and Dr Daniel Holland (L) (Supplied)

The Norman F. B. Barry Foundation Emerging Innovator Award was jointly awarded to University of Canterbury's Dr Daniel Holland, and University of Otago and the MacDiarmid Institute's Dr Carla Meledandri.

Dr Meledandri was recognised for her work with using silver nanoparticles to treat and prevent dental disease.

Dr Holland received the award for his work using maths and measurements together for economic benefit.

"These were two of the strongest pitches in the years since the KiwiNet Awards have been in place," the judges said.

"Both are different in their own way and the judges believe they will do well in future years."

Innovation honoured at KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards

Assoc Prof Cather Simpson (Supplied)

The Baldwins Researcher Entrepreneur Award was presented to Associate Professor Cather Simpson from the University of Auckland and the MacDiarmid Institute for designing lasers to sort sperm for livestock, which enables to industry to breed more selectively.

The judges say the success Assoc Prof Simpson has had over the years helps lead scientists and engineers to innovate.

"Cather inspires the next generation of scientists with her entrepreneurial competence and enthusiasm."

She was also awarded the BNZ Supreme Award, for overall excellence in all core areas of research commercialisation.

Innovation honoured at KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards

Scion and Sonae's Woodforce (Supplied)

Scion and Sonae's Woodforce, a wood fibre-reinforced plastic, was awarded the MinterEllisonRuddWatts Research and Business Partnership Award.

It was a difficult decision between two "incredibly impressive" finalists.

"They have managed to put together their skills of business and research in a highly complementary fashion. Scion has a deep understanding of the whole supply chain to significantly influence how the market operates. Wood replacing oil is impressive and has potential to make major disruptive impact."

Another difficult category was the PwC Commercial Deal Award, which went to AgResearch ZeaKal.

"ZeaKal showed more substantive progress in their ability to pull together national and international funders. Additionally they have successfully engaged local industry in what could be considered a challenging area which if solved could provide significant benefits to NZ."

Lead judge and KiwiNet Investment Committee member Dr Andrew Kelly says the high standards of entries in the competition continued to rise.

"It was notable that more sophisticated commercialisation processes are being used; such as public private partnerships and long term research business collaborations. The sheer level of entrepreneurial talent was also impressive."

John Jassen, BNZ Head of Agribusiness, says they were pleased to be celebrating the innovation and success.

"Today's winners have developed some clever high-tech innovations that will create a range of new businesses and contribute to a high achieving New Zealand."