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NZ’s innovation movers and shakers to be celebrated at 2015 KiwiNet Awards

The awards look at research that has successfully made the leap from the lab to commercialisation. Some of the innovations that have successfully crossed that divide and been included in this year’s competition include a sustainable alternative to polystyrene, CT colour cameras that look inside the human body, a clever response to the PSA outbreak and an expert forensics DNA software system, among others.  

The winners will be announced 17 June.

“The 2015 Awards have uncovered more inspiring success stories of talented researchers pushing business to the frontiers of high-tech innovation,” says Dr Bram Smith, KiwiNet general manager.

“These unsung heroes of the research community are quietly making an enormous contribution to business innovation across a diverse range of sectors. Their work is delivering a new wave of products, services and processes that help to underpin strong economic growth in New Zealand built on cutting edge innovation.”

Researcher Entrepreneur Award

According to KiwiNet, “This award category recognises an entrepreneurial researcher who has made outstanding contributions to business innovation or has created innovative businesses in New Zealand through technology licencing, start-up creation or by providing expertise to support business innovation.”


  • Dr Ron Beatson, Plant & Food Research: New Zealand’s Hops Man – developing specialty hops
  • Prof Andy Buchanan, University of Canterbury: Multi-story buildings from renewable resources
  • Prof Phil Butler, University of Canterbury: Creating a colour CT imaging industry for NZ
  • Dr Stephen J. Sowerby, University of Otago: Facilitating academic culture change with an applied science exemplar

Image: Dr Ron Beatson, Plant & Food Research (Researcher Entrepreneur finalist)

Image: Prof Andy Buchanan, University of Canterbury (Researcher Entrepreneur finalist)

Image: Dr Stephen J Sowerby, University of Otago  (Researcher Entrepreneur finalist)

Minter Ellison Rudd Watts Research & Business Partnership Award

“This award recognises the deeply embedded working relationship between a research organisation and business that delivers significant commercial value for New Zealand.”


  • The Biopolymer Network (BPN) and Barnes Plastics: ZealaFoam – a sustainable alternative to polystyrene
  • Institute for Innovation in Biotechnology at the University of Auckland and Comvita New Zealand Ltd – accelerating innovation by promoting research projects and producing commercially relevant outcomes
  • Plant & Food Research and Zespri – A science and industry response to PSA outbreak

Image: The Biopolymer Network & Barnes Plastics – ZealaFoam Snapperbox (Minter Ellison Rudd Watts Research & Business Partnership finalist)

PwC Commercial Deal Award

“The commercial award celebrates excellence in research commercialisation delivering outstanding innovation performance and the potential for generating significant economic impact for New Zealand.”


  • Cawthron Institute: Cawthron Marine Toxins – Enabling Better Global Seafood Safety
  • Plant & Food Research: Revolutionising plant variety commercialisation – An evolution from transactional plant sales based royalties to participation in commercial success  
  • ESR: STRmix – An expert software system which allows analysts to resolve more DNA mixtures
  • University of Waikato: 11 Ants Analytics – Big data software creating international interest

Image: Cawthron Marine Biotoxins  (PwC Commercial Deal finalist)

Image: Plant & Food Research – Wakefield Raspberry (PwC Commercial Deal finalist)

Image: STRMix – Jo-Anne Bright  (PwC Commercial Deal finalist)

Also presented is the BNZ Supreme Award for overall excellence in all core areas of research commercialisation and a People’s Choice Award.


Jonathan has been a writer longer than he cares to remember. Specialising in technology, the arts, and the grand meaning of it all, in his spare time he enjoys reading, playing guitars, and adding to an already wildly overstocked t-shirt collection.

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