Collagen beauty product, aluminium-ion battery among Kiwi innovation award finalists

An Auckland company has capitalised on the multi-billion dollar Korean beauty market and the magic ingredient? Marine collagen derived from fish skin.

They're just one of the finalists in next week's KiwiNet awards celebrating the very best of homegrown innovation.

Blink and you'll miss it. This is the high-tech Kiwi-made skincare product taking the Korean beauty world by storm.

Developed over more than a decade, the ActivLayr fibre is 500 times thinner than human hair. It contains anti-aging collagen derived from the skin of New Zealand hoki.

"You can apply that fabric straight onto wet skin and it just dissolves instantly and releases those actives into the skin," says NanoLayr founder and director Iain Hosie.

The world-first has become an overnight success, generating $50 million in the first year of sales.

"We've gone from 12 staff to 40 more staff just due to the growth in ActivLayr," Hosie says.

Korean beauty fanatics are behind that growth the product sells out weekly on South Korean home shopping channels.

"K beauty is the big player so if you can make an impact there, there's a lot of great opportunity to start to attract international brands to start using our technology," Hosie says.

From beauty to batteries, Shalini Divya is another KiwiNet finalist. She's creating a new aluminium-ion battery at Victoria University which is cheaper and more sustainable than lithium.

"With the increasing demand of lithium-ion batteries we are going to run out of the raw materials pretty soon," the TasmanIon co-founder says.

In the era of electric vehicles, Divya wants to take on the big guns.

"We are not competing with Tesla now but who knows in the future we will," she says.

But she is competing with universities in the US, China and Japan who are working on similar projects.

"We have to make sure we reach the market first from New Zealand," Divya says.

Because whoever wins will reap all of the reward.