Keen to put your commercialisation expertise to good use?

Become a KiwiNet Commercial Mentor!

Public research organisations across the country need your help to accelerate their IP to commercial success and overcome limited tech transfer resources.

You can provide expertise and help build capability within their team, help shape proposals for PreSeed investment, and provide ongoing, on-the-ground commercialisation support. You can support in a range of ways, from identifying new commercial opportunities to mentoring some very high potential projects and our Emerging Innovators.

How can you get involved?

  • Triage a project pipeline within the commercialisation unit, helping to evaluate the portfolio, identify opportunities and prioritise them for further work.
  • Provide advice on how to identify, select and engage with appropriate commercial partners to achieve the objectives of PreSeed funding.
  • Provide advice and support on putting together appropriate plans to achieve commercial objectives.
  • Provide advice on planning for use of PreSeed funding to demonstrate a minimum viable prototype of their idea.
  • Provide advice and support to tap into other sources of funding and investment that will enable the project to be continued once the PreSeed funding is completed.
  • Take the Commercial Lead role including on-going market validation, business and commercial planning.
  • Support a project team in presenting the results of their work to the KiwiNet Investment Committee, either in person or via telephone, and be available to answer the Committee’s questions.

Commercial Mentor Case Studies

Merv Jones

– Fast tracked ESR’s portfolio review

With a rich history of scientific discovery, ESR had a wide range of projects at various stages of maturity and needed to quickly identify which ones should be fast tracked for commercialisation funding and support…

Will Barker

– Championed Dr. Vlatko Materić’s launch of Hot Lime Labs

“It’s always hardest to find the first person to step up and stand by you…”
Dr. Vlatko Materić’s, Founder and CEO, Hot Lime Labs

Get in touch to find out how you can help get Kiwi research discoveries to market faster...

Dr Merv Jones


Dr Merv Jones

Commercial Mentor for ESR

KiwiNet appointed Dr Merv Jones to assist in the evaluation of commercial opportunities. Merv is a company director and senior executive with wide experience in industrial science, commercialisation and governance, and a successful leadership record of growth and profitability in Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He also has significant experience working as a scientist within both the public and private sectors.

After an initial review of 32 projects, Merv and Hamish Findlay, (then) General Manager - Commercial and Business Development at ESR, created a short list of 9 projects for deeper analysis. Merv, Hamish and other ESR team members had face-to-face meetings with each project sponsor.

Merv drafted a summary of each of the projects and provided preliminary thoughts on their commercialisation potential and their applicability of KiwiNet PreSeed funding. Three projects were identified as having significant commercial potential: one as a candidate for the KiwiNet Emerging Innovator Programme, one ESR ran a workshop on to help drive it forward, and one progressed to Tier Two PreSeed investment.

Will Barker

Dr. Vlatko Materić

Hot Lime Labs

Will Barker

Commercial Mentor for Dr. Vlatko Materić

As a researcher at Callaghan Innovation Dr. Vlatko Materić developed a CO2 capture material which significantly boosts glasshouse vegetable and flower yields.  The Hot Lime system helps growers to enrich the greenhouse atmosphere in CO2, allowing them to boost yields by up to 20% in a glasshouse environment, in a sustainable and more cost-effective way than existing methods.

This has the potential to increase grower's revenues by $40-80k per annum per hectare compared to using other sources such as natural gas or liquid CO2. The global market opportunity for the technology is estimated at over $800m per annum and is growing rapidly.

As part of Vlatko’s experience in the KiwiNet Emerging Innovator Programme, Will Barker (formally of Lanzatech), was assigned to mentor him to boost the commercial outcomes of his discoveries. Working with Will, Vlatko was able to put into practice the main commercialisation concepts: establishing a market pain, articulating a value proposition, devising a minimum viable product, identifying a unique selling proposition and developing an investment case.

Besides the immediate practical commercialisation experience gained through these activities, Will provided Vlatko with a new and greatly expanded perspective on how these individual components combine together in the technology commercialisation process. This led to a step change in Vlatko’s commercialisation capabilities.

In the space of just two short years Vlatko is now realising his dream, having founded a start-up company as a commercialisation vehicle for his discoveries. Hot Lime Labs has already attracted significant private investment and is set to take on the world with eager early adopters lined up for commercial trials. Vlatko also went on to win the 2018 Norman Barry Foundation Breakthrough Innovator Award at the KiwiNet Awards.

Vlatko comments, “Will’s guidance greatly increased my appetite for, and chances of, succeeding in this venture. Without the KiwiNet Emerging Innovator programme I wouldn’t have been able to turn my research idea into a commercial venture. It’s always hardest to find the first person to step up and stand by you. I now have an experienced group of people wrapped around the venture along with the funding required to ensure the best chance of success.”