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Uni Cant’s earthquake-proof buildings win big at KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards 2015

250 guests attended the Auckland ceremony which celebrates the innovation and commercial successes of Zealand’s universities and Crown Research Institutes.

The judging panel for the Kiwinet event was headed by director and executive advisor, Helen Robinson; R&D executive, Rob Heebink; professional director, Dr Ray Thomson and inventor and philanthropist, Sir Ray Avery.

The big winner of the night was Prof Andy Buchanan of University of Canterbury whose work with earthquake-resistant, multi-story buildings constructed from renewable resources took out the Researcher Entrepreneur Award, People’s Choice Award and the BNZ Supreme Award.

Image: Prof Andy Buchanan, UC with Dr Andy Pearce, Director, BNZ

Professor Buchanan and his team have developed a completely new system of earthquake-resistant buildings using ‘post-tensioned’ structural timber, a stronger and safer alternative to traditional concrete and steel structures. In his research at University of Canterbury he has simulated some of the world’s biggest earthquakes in an effort to design fully quake-proof, multi-story timber-built buildings that can compete with traditional high rise constructions. The technology has already been used in buildings in Vienna and Vancouver. 

Other awards and winners from the night include:

Minter Ellison Rudd Watts Research & Business Partnership Award: Won by the Institute for Innovation in Biotechnology at the University of Auckland and Comvita New Zealand Ltd, a collaboration between the two bodies to promote research projects and produce commercial outcomes.

Image: Institute for Innovation in Biotechnology and Comvita New Zealand Ltd

PwC Commercial Deal Award: Won by Plant & Food Research for their work on plant variety commercialisation, which involves evolution from transactional plant sales based royalties to a commercial participatory model.   

Image: Plant & Food Research

Commercialisation Collaboration Award: Won by the Biopolymer Network Ltd: Scion, Plant & Food Research & AgResearch


Image: The Biopolymer Network Limited

Dr Bram Smith, general manager of KiwiNet says that the award have uncovered pioneering kiwi scientists who are powering disruptive business innovation. “These people are quietly revolutionising the New Zealand innovation landscape,” he says.  

“The awards celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit of those who strive to bridge the gap between clever science and innovative business. We hope this event will inspire the next generation of innovative researchers and entrepreneurs.”

All images via Sciencelens photography.

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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