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Innovation partnerships between NZ and Japan

Sarah Putt, Contributor. 26 September 2019, 5:54 pm

It's been a big week for rugby and politics and also for tech, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announcing four new innovation partnerships between New Zealand and Japanese entities.

"The solutions and technologies New Zealand and Japanese innovators are working on have the potential to have significant global impact," Ardern says.

"The four partnerships in biofuels, renewable energy, artificial intelligence, medical technologies and robotics will help with the transition to a clean and modern economy. These partnerships all have the potential to deliver global solutions and in the process bring our science and business communities closer together."

The basis for one the partnerships is a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the University of Auckland and Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) is to enhance research capacity including AI, renewable energy, medical technologies and robotics.

Professor Rosalind Archer, Head of Department of Engineering Science and Director of the Geothermal Institute, attended the signing in Tokyo. She says the MoU aims to build a framework to encourage close cooperation between students and researchers, and collaboration through exchanges and joint research projects.

Auckland UniServices chief executive Dr Andy Shenk says the collaboration will bring many more ideas and research to market readiness and beyond.

"AIST will provide vital experience and contacts in the local market to give NZ entrepreneurs an edge when trying to leverage opportunities in Japan and other international markets. The exchange of knowledge will undoubtedly develop ground-breaking technology products that will create jobs and multi-million-dollar revenues for both nations," he says.

"We were particularly keen to partner with AIST as they share a similar vision to UniServices in creating new technologies that not only improve the economy but also build a more sustainable and eco-friendly society."

Shenk says that each year UniServices works on around 1,200 projects with more than 300 New Zealand and global firms. In 2018, UniServices generated new research contracts worth $169.4 million, executed more than 84 patent licences and created 11 businesses to commercialise university research. Around $148 million was raised by UniServices' spin-out companies in the last five years.

The other three partnerships announced by Ardern when she was in Japan are developing bio-fuels from microalgae, developing health supplements from AgResearch owned probiotic bacterium, and turning Undaria seaweed into high value products.


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