Connecting the right people at the right time
Commercial mentors are technology commercialisation experts who are keen to get involved!
Our mentors help public research organisations across the country to accelerate their IP to commercial success and overcome limited tech transfer resources. They can provide expertise and help build capability within your team, shape proposals for PreSeed investment, and provide ongoing, on-the-ground commercialisation support. They can support you with everything from identifying new commercial opportunities to mentoring some very high potential projects.
Commercial mentors help develop the commercial aspiration and core capability of KiwiNet’s Emerging Innovators.
Mentors develop an on-going relationship with the Emerging Innovator, challenging and inspiring them to overcome obstacles and embrace opportunities they encounter on their journey to achieving investor readiness.
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.
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.”