2020 KiwiNet Awards Finalists: NZ’s world-class research innovation

Hamilton, NZ, 27 August, 2020

2020 KiwiNet Awards Finalists Announced

Twelve stunning finalists have been selected for the eighth annual KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards, designed to celebrate impact from science through successful research commercialisation within New Zealand’s universities, Crown Research Institutes and other research organisations.

The innovative research commercialisation successes include: suction-based robots for industrial inspection, antimicrobial coatings to keep people safe, software to help children with autism communicate, genetic selection of high-value dairy goats, a novel protein-iron complex to help address global iron deficiency, zinc recovery from the galvanising industry, inorganic and materials chemistry innovations, maximising plant biology with UV, and seismic protection technology. New Zealand’s best research commercialisation professionals are also recognised.

The Kiwi Innovation Network (KiwiNet) is a consortium of 18 universities, Crown Research Institutes, an Independent Research Organisation and a Crown Entity established to boost commercial outcomes from publicly funded research by helping to transform scientific discoveries into new products and services.

KiwiNet CEO Dr James Hutchinson, says the deep tech sector is set to play a critical role in the path to ‘Covid recovery’. “New Zealand’s future depends on cutting-edge research discoveries with commercial promise to rebuild the economy and to create new opportunities for existing businesses and sectors that are struggling. KiwiNet is inspired by the wave of incredible research discoveries coming out of our universities and research institutes, with the potential to transform lives. We're proud to celebrate the people and teams who are championing the best ideas to make a difference to New Zealand and the world.”

The 2020 KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards finalists are:

Norman Barry Foundation Breakthrough Innovator Award

  • Dr Swati Gupta, Inclusys: Talk With Me - opening the world of communication to people with autism
  • Associate Professor Aaron Marshall, University of Canterbury: Zincovery - extracting value and improving the environment through the treatment of waste from the galvanising industry
  • Dr Eldon Tate, Inhibit Coatings Limited: Antimicrobial coatings keeping people safe in food and healthcare industries

Baldwins Researcher Entrepreneur Award

  • Professor Jim Johnston, Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington: A world-renowned inorganic and materials chemist focussed on commercial outcomes
  • Professor Pierre Quenneville, University of Auckland and Dr Pouyan Zarnani, Auckland University of Technology: Long-term seismic protection for buildings and liquid storage tanks
  • Professor Jason Wargent, Massey University & BioLumic: Bringing a next-generation sustainable ag technology to global food production

MinterEllisonRuddWatts Commercialisation Professional Award

  • Dr Ian Boddy, IKB Consulting: Translating complex commercialisation issues into simple actions to get deals done
  • Brooke Marshall, AgResearch: Creating impact from AgResearch’s world class science
  • Sue Muggleston, Plant & Food Research: Championing commercialisation of technology through best practice IP management and mentoring

PwC Commercial Impact Award

  • University of Auckland - Genetic selection of high value dairy goats: PM-1 gene test 
  • Massey University – ‘FERRI PRO’ IP Sale: A partnership to help address the global problem of iron deficiency
  • Invert Robotics - Suction based robots for industrial inspection: World first technology eliminating height and confined space hazards

The BNZ Supreme Award is chosen from the 4 main category winners and is awarded to the entry which demonstrates overall excellence in all core areas of research commercialisation as voted by the Awards Judges and the audience.

The KiwiNet Awards judging panel comprises:

  • Rob Heebink the R&D Executive at Gallagher Group,
  • Bridget Coates the co-founder of Kura™ and Chairman of White Cloud Dairy Innovation Ltd,
  • Kendall Flutey the Co-Founder and CEO of Banqer, and
  • Debra Hall angel investor, advisor and director

Lead judge Rob Heebink, says: “It is a privilege to participate in the judging of the KiwiNet Awards. The awards not only showcase examples of the world-class research that is conducted in New Zealand, they also highlight the different commercial pathways via which this research delivers real impact. The more of our outstanding research is commercialised, the faster New Zealand will lift its productivity.”

Jason Lewthwaite, Senior Partner at BNZ, says BNZ are again very proud to support these awards, celebrating not only the incredibly important innovation that occurs across New Zealand but also the impressive fortitude shown by the finalists to navigate an increasing complex business environment to achieve commercial success.

“As the contribution to the New Zealand economy from the innovation sector continues to grow, as does the support available to its participants. Critical to success is having the right conversation at the right time with the right person. At BNZ we are here to help in any way we can as we work together to sustainably grow and support our communities.”

Paul Stocks, Deputy Chief Executive of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, says “There is an impressive range of innovative research in this year’s list. Bringing Innovation from the lab to the market is crucial in the challenging times that New Zealand, and the world, is facing. All of the finalists have shown impressive drive and resilience.”

Hutchinson adds, “The success of the 2020 KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards is a collaborative effort. KiwiNet gratefully acknowledges the support of our sponsors BNZ, MinterEllisonRuddWatts, PwC, Baldwins, MBIE, Norman Barry Foundation and K1W1, as well as, key partner Return On Science.”

Winners will be announced at an evening reception on 15 October in Auckland.


2020 Awards Finalists

For further information please contact:

Sandra Lukey
Shine Group (PR for KiwiNet)
Phone: +64 21 2262 858
Email: sandra@shinegroup.co.nz