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Innovators ho! A wrap of the 2014 New Zealand Innovators Awards

New Zealand Innovation Council CEO and Awards convener Louise Webster says that “the awards bring together incredible innovators, entrepreneurs, designers and investors from all industries across New Zealand to collaborate and celebrate innovative products, and business ventures.” Entries have increased a staggering 60% on last year – which indicates innovation is alive and well in New Zealand.

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Supreme New Zealand Innovator – Precision Seafood Harvesting has developed a new way of harvesting fish using a trawling system that sees fish contained and swimming in a large flexible PVC liner. Holes in the liner allow small fish to escape and once on deck, any non-target fish can be returned to the sea alive and unharmed.

Fishing companies Aotearoa Fisheries, Sanford and Sealord have invested $26 million into the project under a Primary Growth Partnership with the Ministry of Primary Industries. Scientists from Plant & Food Research have undergone nearly 10 years of research into the project and are currently trialing the new harvesting technology on commercial fishing vessels.

New Zealand Innovators Awards evaluators noted how Precision Seafood Harvesting’s entry was “a fantastic example of innovation through collaboration to create something that delivers value through a multi-pronged approach. The result is better quality fish, more environmentally sound fishing practices and a boost to New Zealand’s innovative and sustainability credentials.”

The Supreme Innovator award was presented by Bayer ANZ chairperson and MD Jacqueline Applegate, who says she is delighted to see such a collaborative effort win. “As foundation sponsor of these Awards, Bayer has a deep understanding of innovation and more importantly how to commercialise innovation. All the people behind Precision Seafood Harvesting are deserving winners and I congratulate you all.”

Many other category winners were announced on the night and reflected the depth and talent of New Zealand’s innovators. They included Scott Technology Ltd for its automated lamb boning room; Rocket Lab Ltd with its electron launch vehicle; Enztec’s surgical instruments for conducting knee surgery; and Fonterra for its Noble reduced fat cheddar.

Both Idealog and Tangible Media are proud to have been sponsors of the New Zealand Innovators Awards 2014.

Below is a full list of the winners.

Innovation in Agriculture & Environment

Sponsored by Bayer New Zealand

WINNER: Scott Technology Ltd – Automated Lamb Boning Room

In 2002 Otago-based Scott Technology had a vision to fully automate the lamb boning process. Now the vision has become a reality with a unique x-ray system that automatically scans a carcass and separates it according to the x-ray data. The equipment identifies the features in every product and adjusts cutting parameters appropriately, reducing bacteria and required labour. The Evaluators noted that this was a great example of fulfilling a real industry need. It benefits the NZ economy both through improved productivity and proven export sales and the whole system is grounded in the innovative application of technology.

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Gallagher Group Ltd – Ring Top Post

Innovation in Design & Engineering

Sponsored by James and Wells

WINNER: Rocket Lab Ltd – Electron Launch Vehicle

Rocket Lab’s creation of a carbon-composite launch vehicle will allow businesses to launch satellites into orbit more cost effectively than anywhere else in the world. Built in their Auckland facility, it will also reduce launch lead-time from years down to weeks. It has the ability to deliver up to 100kg into low Earth orbits. The evaluators thought that the Rocket Lab have done a great job in working out a disruptive and market creating application for this breakthrough technology. This is a very exciting and inspiring story.

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Kaynemaile Ltd – Kaynemaile Seamless Mesh

Innovation in Financial & Professional Services

Sponsored by Ideas Accelerator

WINNER: Kiwibank – Home Hunter

With Home Hunter, any home buyer can find a house, get Kiwibank’s estimated price range and apply for pre-approval within minutes – all from their smart phone, tablet or computer. There is no other home buying app in the world that combines all the features of Home Hunter. It’s not just about using technology. Once a buy has applied for pre-approval, a Kiwibank home loans expert makes contact to add the crucial human-factor. The evaluators noted that this innovation is globally unique and a really good example of customer-centric design.

HIGHLY COMMENDED: AIG Insurance New Zealand Ltd – NOVI

Innovation in Health & Science

Sponsored by NZ Innovation Council

WINNER: Enztec – Quad Sparing Knee Replacement Instrument Range

Working with a leading orthopaedic surgeon, Canterbury’s Enztec has developed a range of surgical instruments specifically for a knee replacement technique that avoids trauma to the quadriceps muscle. The instruments allow the operation to be more precise, reduce operative time and help improve patient outcomes. The evaluators thought this was a great design led innovation,that blends form and function and is achieving improved margin performance for the business.

HIGHLY COMMENDED: The University of Auckland – No More Needles

Innovation in Hospitality, Food & Beverage

Sponsored by Yealands Wine Group NZ

WINNER: Fonterra Research and Development Centre – Noble Reduced Fat Cheddar

Noble Reduced Fat Cheddar was developed in the Manawatu at Fonterra after an opportunity was recognised; other countries had attempted to create a reduced fat cheese but failed to maintain full flavour and achieve a non-rubbery texture. The evaluators agreed that this is a classic R&D-led innovative solution that addresses a problem and creates an opportunity and has great potential in global markets beyond Australia and Japan.

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd – Functional Whey WPC550 & My Food Bag Ltd

Innovation in Information Communications Technology & Cloud Solutions

Sponsored by Alcatel Lucent

WINNER: I Measure U Ltd

This Auckland company has developed a monitor that provides real-time feedback on the impact your knees experience when running. This feedback can be used to monitor the cumulative load on joints, movement and performance and gives runners the ability to adjust technique to improve performance and prevent injuries. The evaluators thought this was a very impressive submission with some real international potential in a growing market.


Innovation in Marketing & Communications

Sponsored by Datamine


SME businesses can now compete for customer loyalty with larger, better resourced, competitors thanks to EFTPlus. The Auckland-based business has developed a world-leading customer loyalty platform that eliminates the need for customer cards or additional hardware and software. It can be tailored to each business and individual customers. The evaluators agreed that EFTPlus was a strong customer orientated innovation with exciting potential.

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Creative Hype – Promotion Sports Helmets

Innovation in Media, Music & Entertainment

Sponsored by RadioLIVE

WINNER: Kiwa Digital Ltd

Auckland-based KIWA is the world’s leading production house for experiential digital books. The company works closely with clients such as the Ministry of Education, Penguin and Sesame Workshop to create innovative digital formats that contribute to learning. It also creates its own products such as KIWA SLAM where students tell their own stories from their own culture in their own language. The evaluators noted that this was a Real commitment to innovation as a platform, not a just a product


Innovation in Sustainability & Cleantech

Sponsored by Waterfront Auckland

WINNER: Precision Seafood Harvesting

Precision Seafood Harvesting have designed a break through trawl net. The Modular Harvesting System contains fish in a large flexible PVC liner with holes to allow small fish to escape. The evaluators thought this was a fantastic example of innovation through collaboration with many partners. It solves a complex set of problems and creates something that delivers value through a multi-pronged approach; better quality fish, more environmentally sound, and a boost to New Zealand’s innovation and sustainability credentials.

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Foodstuffs NZ – Foodstuffs New Waste Management Plan & Scott Biosystems Ltd – Spin Separator System

Emerging New Zealand Innovator

Sponsored by AUT University WINNER: Solar Bright Ltd – PATeye

Christchurch company Solar Bright uses energy efficient technologies to develop innovative products. The latest star is PATeye, an ice-detection road stud that flashes blue when ice forms on the road, thus warning motorists of potential hazards ahead. Solar Bright has secured local and overseas patents and is looking at launching this unique and novel product to the global market. The evaluators believe that this innovation was well developed and were particularly impressed with the strong IP position the company has invested in. This is an exciting opportunity with clear international market potential and they wish Solar Bright well for the future.

Most Inspiring Individual

Sponsored by NZ Innovation Council

WINNER: Peter Beck – Rocket Lab Ltd, Electron Launch Vehicle

Peter Beck is CEO and technical director of Rocket Lab, a New Zealand rocket technology company. He founded Rocket Lab in 2006 and led it to accomplish its first major goal of building and launching a rocket to reach space in 2009. He continues to lead Rocket Lab as a high-tech company in international markets. The evaluators noted that Peter’s story was truly inspirational and exciting for New Zealand. A disruptive technology which could be a big deal. They wish him well for the launch in 2015!

Export Innovator of the Year

Sponsored by New Zealand Trade & Enterprise

WINNER: Enztec – Quad Sparing Knee Replacement Instrument Range

Enztec is an example of a successful New Zealand Design Led company. By focusing on the human needs of patients, surgeons and healthcare professionals the Enztec range avoids surgery trauma for patient’s quadricep muscles. In 2014, export earnings are now projected to make up 99.8% of Enztec’s total sales. Enztec also engages with and supports New Zealand surgeons, nurses and local sales staff. Enztec works with New Zealand healthcare professionals to develop and test new products and ideas. Enztec is a great example of harnessing New Zealand Innovation to solve complex problems and to design and successfully deliver solutions to global markets.

Innovation Excellence in Research

Sponsored by 3M

WINNER: The University of Auckland – No More Needles

This award celebrates those that have completed a research project that has excellent commercialisation potential and impact. The University of Auckland has invented a drug delivery device that uses jet injection technology to eliminate the need for needles. The device uses a powerful, compact motor that propels liquid through the skin in a precise and comfortable fashion. Its mosquito mimicking function also allows fluid to be withdrawn gently through a small hole in the skin. The evaluators believe that this innovation could revolutionise healthcare. It is safer for healthcare workers and non-threatening for all kinds of patients.

Excellence in Social Innovation

Sponsored by Tangible Media

WINNER: The Mind Lab by Unitec

The Mind Lab by Unitec is a private-public partnership developed to address the needs of 21st Century learners. It provides hands-on education on various science and technology topics across a wide range of subjects to Year 1 – Year 13 students. It also provides post-graduate teaching studies in digital and collaborative learning. The evaluators commented that The Mind Lab have tackled a significant issue in a very positive way. Truly inspirational and there is no doubt that this innovation will gain tremendous support and momentum. Well done!

Sustained Innovation Excellence

Sponsored by New Zealand Innovators Awards

WINNER: Gallagher Group Ltd

Gallagher’s with their two 2014 entries of Ring Top Post and T20 were finalists an incredible 6 times. The Ring Top Post in Innovation in Agriculture & Environment and the T20 in Innovation in Design & Engineering. Both Gallagher submissions also reached the finals of Emerging New Zealand Innovator as well as Export Innovator of the Year categories. This followed on from 2013 when Gallagher’s submission the i Series Fence Energizer system reached the finals in both Innovation in Agriculture & Environment and Export Innovator of the Year. Gallagher’s have been Awarded the Sustained Innovation Excellence Award. This is in recognition of their culture and systems of innovation that have resulted in sustained market success. There use of both learning first product development, design thinking and a culture of innovation are clearly working for them with inspiring market impact and results.

The People’s Choice

Sponsored by Idealog

WINNER: Snap Information Technologies with Electronic Monitoring for Sustainable Fisheries Management.

Marlborough-based SnapIT have developed an integrated video observation unit for New Zealand fisheries using innovative camera hardware, software and cloud storage systems to replace on board human observers with recorded video. The unit collects information for fisheries research, management and enforcement using its 360 degree video and built in GPS. It delivers this content to millions of users per week.

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Review overview