2021 KiwiNet Awards Winners
Celebrating NZ’s Research Commercialisation Heroes

Hamilton NZ, 30 November 2021

Terrific trajectories of New Zealand’s ambitious deep tech talent have been shared today during the ninth annual KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards. Winners, chosen from an impressive breadth and depth of technologies, are relentless founders, high energy scientists, competent and collaborative change-makers and visionaries. They represent the top echelon of the entrepreneurial science community. The inaugural Commercialisation Icon was also honoured.

The 2021 KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards winners are:

Momentum Student Entrepreneur

  • Luke Campbell, University of Canterbury: Millions of calls made smarter with Vxt

Breakthrough Innovator Award

  • Dr Shalini Divya, Tasmanlon/ Wellington UniVentures: A new aluminium-ion battery technology, offering a safer, sustainable, cost-effective alternative for grid storage and portable applications

Researcher Entrepreneur Award

  • Prof Johan Potgieter, Massey University: Inspiring entrepreneurial insurgency by creating a technology pipeline

Commercialisation Professional Award

  • Darja Pavlovic-Nelson, Plant & Food Research: Sensing opportunities – capturing value from Plant & Food Research IP

Commercial Impact Award

  • Aureo®Gold - Plant & Food Research, Zespri and UPL: Aureo®Gold a new biocontrol product combating plant disease

Commercial Icon Award

  • David Hughes, CEO, Plant & Food Research

KiwiNet CEO Dr James Hutchinson says research commercialisation has critical game-changing role in New Zealand’s prosperity. “New Zealand’s universities, Crown Research Institutes and independent research institutes are havens for great scientists with extraordinary ideas, and the capability to create world-changing technologies. KiwiNet is thrilled to be part this knowledge-to-market system. We’re excited to celebrate the people harnessing these brilliant research discoveries and propelling some of these most promising projects into the world.”

In addition to the five prestigious category awards, the inaugural Commercialisation Icon was recognised. The recipient, David Hughes, CEO of Plant & Food Research, is commended for his visionary leadership advancing the cause of research commercialisation, fostering a social licence to commercialise research, and his role in nurturing entrepreneurial spirit and skills in others.

Lead KiwiNet Awards judge and independent director, advisor, and mentor, Debra Hall says the KiwiNet Awards is about celebrating excellence. “Judging those at the pinnacle of our research commercialisation space is exhilarating. Excellence is what we have seen today. Each of these remarkable individuals and teams presenting today make up a mere slither of the research community. These are the people paving the way for others and the people with incredible science intent on creating real-world impact. It is an absolute pleasure to recognise our entrants, to celebrate the outstanding achievements of our winners, and to delight in anticipation of their phenomenal impact on the world.”

Deep-tech expert Kiri Lenagh-Glue, Katherine Sandford, Executive Chair, UBCO Utility Electric Vehicles, and Rod Snodgrass Director, The Exponential Agency and an advisor and investor, joined Debra Hall as the final judging panel.

Paul Stocks, Deputy Chief Executive of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment says, “The high standard of submissions and the impressive achievements of this year’s KiwiNet Awards winners are a clear demonstration of the talent and skill we have in Aotearoa. MBIE is honoured to support the transition of research from lab to commercialisation, especially during the enduring challenges faced by COVID-19.”

James Hutchinson acknowledges support from MBIE, Return On Science and Momentum, as well as Matū for sponsoring the Momentum Student Entrepreneur category.

“Together we have showcased some truly outstanding innovation, people and teams.”

More information on the
2021 KiwiNet Awards winners