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Behold: The winners of the KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards

Winners of the fifth annual KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards, which celebrate commercialisation success within Aotearoa’s universities and Crown Research Institutes, have been announced.

Taking place in Auckland’s Viaduct Events Centre on Thursday evening, the event brought together some of the best and brightest scientists, researchers and academics in the Land of the Long White Cloud.

Cather Simpson. Image: Sciencelens

Among the highlights of the evening was a speech by Cather Simpson, University of Auckland Professor of Chemistry & Physics, Director of the Photon Factory, and CSO of Engender Tech – not to mention the Supreme Award winner at last year’s event. She spoke about the importance of never giving up despite the odds, but also of aiming high.

Dr Siouxsie Wiles (centre). Image: Sciencelens

This year’s award winners were also evidence of perseverance. “The quality and sophistication of presentations rises every year and applicants are really demonstrating how commercially savvy they are,” said lead KiwiNet Awards judge Dr Andrew Kelly, executive director at BioPacific Partners. “It’s great to see the commercial focus getting sharper.  Yet again, we’re seeing the benefit of previous research commercialisation success stories, and some failures, and people are learning from those.”


Kelly was joined on the judging panel by Rob Heebink, R&D executive at Gallagher Group, Bridget Coates, co-founder of Kura and chair of White Cloud Dairy Innovation Ltd, and Paul Dyson, entrepreneur and angel investor.


KiwiNet CEO Dr James Hutchinson said: “We've had some really inspirational pitches from finalists today.  They're showing that with some entrepreneurial spark, and the right support and commercial expertise, in New Zealand we can take our cutting edge technology innovations to the world.”

Image: Sciencelens

The annual KiwiNet Awards are designed to recognise and celebrate research commercialisation success. Sponsorship support was provided by BNZ, MinterEllisonRuddWatts, PwC, Baldwins, MBIE, Norman F. B. Barry Foundation and Sciencelens photography.


Jason Lewthwaite, senior partner at BNZ said: “Today’s winners have created game-changing innovations that will create new commercial opportunities for New Zealand. BNZ is very pleased to be a long-time supporter of these awards as they inspire and celebrate people who are dedicated to making a global impact through cutting edge research, world leading product development which will, in turn, deliver a higher achieving New Zealand.”


Paul Stocks, deputy chief executive of MBIE’s Labour, Science and Enterprise group, said: “Commercialisation of publicly-funded research drives innovation, helps to solve problems and creates economic growth for the benefit of all New Zealanders.”


The Kiwi Innovation Network (KiwiNet) is a consortium of 16 universities, Crown Research Institutes and a Crown Entity established to boost commercial outcomes from publicly funded research. Principal support is also provided by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE).


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The 2017 KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards winners are:

- Norman F. B. Barry Foundation Emerging Innovator Award

Dr Geoff Rodgers, University of Canterbury: Seismic damping for buildings and joint implant diagnostics

- Baldwins Researcher Entrepreneur Award

Prof Richard Furneaux, Victoria University of Wellington: Carbohydrate chemistry innovations

- MinterEllisonRuddWatts Research and Business Partnership Award

University of Auckland, Orion Health and Waitemata District Health Board: Precision Driven Health

- PwC Commercial Deal Award

UniServices: Soul Machines - humanizing the interface between man and machines 

- BNZ Supreme Award – for overall excellence in all core areas of research commercialisation:

Prof Richard Furneaux, Victoria University of Wellington: Carbohydrate chemistry innovations