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KiwiNet Awards highlight tech diversity

Sarah Putt, Contributor. 06 June 2019, 6:32 pm

Technology is a vast, almost limitless sector, and nowhere is this better demonstrated than in the annual KiwiNet Awards, which recognises successful research commercialisation within New Zealand's universities.

The finalists announced today highlight the rich diversity of applications and ideas that some of the country's smartest researchers are engaged in. The projects up for an award include new 3D printing technology for miniaturisation, next generation earthquake protection, pioneering drug discoveries, selective mussel breeding technology, healthcare and horticulture robotic technologies, bio-material research, and new spectroscopy technology for analysing cloudy liquids. 

KiwiNet, which stands for Kiwi Innovation Network (KiwiNet), is a consortium of 17 universities, Crown Research Institutes, an Independent Research Organisation and a Crown Entity. CEO James Hutchinson says the organisation's purpose is to boost commercial outcomes from publicly funded research by helping to transform scientific discoveries into new products and services.

"New scientific discoveries have the potential to transform lives and change the world. KiwiNet's excited to showcase the amazing work that goes into getting these discoveries 'business ready'," he says.

"With the high-tech sector looking to soon surpass dairy in its contribution to New Zealand's export economy, we're excited to celebrate the achievements of people and teams who are creating prosperity for us all."

The KiwiNet Awards judging panel this year includes Duncan Mackintosh an Investment Manager at Brandon Capital Partners, Bridget Coates the co-founder of Kura and Chairman of White Cloud Dairy Innovation Ltd, entrepreneur Daniel Xu the CEO of Spark 64 and Chair of the Digital Technologies Investment Committee for Return on Science, and angel investor, advisor and director Debra Hall. 

The finalists are as follows:

Norman Barry Foundation Breakthrough Innovator Award

  • Andrew Best and Andrea Bubendorfer, Callaghan Innovation: MicroMaker: a new 3D printing technology for high value miniaturisation
  • Dr Brendan Darby, Marama Labs: Revolutionising analytical spectroscopy with analysis of cloudy liquids 
  • Dr Shalen Kumar, AuramerBio: Precision diagnostics made faster, cheaper, and mobile

Baldwins Researcher Entrepreneur Award

  • Distinguished Professor Dame Margaret Brimble, University of Auckland: Pioneering drug discovery and development
  • Professor Bruce MacDonald, University of Auckland: Revolutionising horticulture and healthcare with cutting edge robotic technologies
  • Dr Leonardo Negron, Callaghan Innovation: Bio-material research into innovative and unique products for the health sector

MinterEllisonRuddWatts Commercialisation Professional Award

  • Will Charles, Auckland UniServices and University of Auckland: Supercharging the commercialisation activities of the University of Auckland
  • Mark Cleaver, Massey Ventures and Massey University: Leading teams to transform New Zealand's great food and agritech research capability
  • Geoff Todd, Viclink and Victoria University of Wellington: Commercialisation pioneer who has shaped the way scientific research is commercialised in New Zealand

PwC Commercial Impact Award

  • Sanford, Cawthron and SPATnz: Transforming mussel aquaculture through hatchery technology and selective breeding
  • Plant & Food Research and Compac Sorting Equipment: World-leading fruit grading and sorting technologies
  • Tectonus: Next generation earthquake protection

 Winners will be announced on Tuesday 7 August. You can learn more about the Kiwinet Awards here.


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