KiwiNet News 9 July 2013

KiwiNet encourages collaborative development of water management technologies

Wellington, New Zealand, 9 July 2013

Industry and researchers are working to explore water management issues and identify opportunities for new technologies to meet industry challenges. The Water Management Technologies Foresight initiative is designed to encourage collaborative technology development which will lead to the commercialisation of new technologies for industry. The concept was created by The Kiwi Innovation Network (KiwiNet), a consortium of research organisations working together to increase the scale and impact of science-based innovation.

KiwiNet business analyst Seumas McCroskery says, "Industry utilises major volumes of water and faces new and ongoing challenges associated with water management. There is increasing pressure to balance improvements in productivity with a reduction on environmental stress. Technology will play a vital role in meeting these challenges."

KiwiNet's Water Management Technologies Foresight event held recently was the start of a process to identify opportunities for technology to help meet industry challenges associated with water management, and to then commercialise the most promising technologies.

The event was attended by representatives from the dairy, horticultural and processing industries, researchers, regulatory agencies and technology development specialists. New Zealand researchers with various projects in different states of development demonstrated their innovative technologies and skills at the event. Business, industry and regulatory representatives highlighted key issues and opportunities on which to build. One opportunity highlighted for researchers is a consortium of 40 Rotorua farmers who pool resources to address water management. They actively look for innovative technology solutions and represent an exciting developing market.

Graeme Anderson, Commercial Manager Landcare Research and co-organiser notes, "The event enabled researchers and industry to constructively challenge market assumptions and evaluate early stage technologies in the water management sector. We were able to share a lot of knowledge and make valuable new connections."

McCroskery says, "This new network will be very valuable as we continue the initiative to identify and explore multiple opportunities for water management in New Zealand. By bringing together key stakeholders we can ensure New Zealand's science and technology development capability in water management technologies is aligned to industry need."

To progress the initiative KiwiNet has set up an advisory committee on Water Management Technology. The committee aims to support the collaborative connections established in this space.

Dr Bram Smith, General Manager of KiwiNet notes, "The workshop has allowed us to gain some insights from the various stakeholder groups. Better understanding the needs of end-users informs and benefits our researchers.

"These industry foresighting events are a great demonstration of how KiwiNet can use its collective might in a very practical way to boost commercialisation activity and innovation in key areas. Universities and Crown Research Institutes can really lead the charge to create some positive economic shifts by being practical and proactive like this."

KiwiNet's Foresighting events, run in conjunction with regional partners, bring together a wide range of industry and research experts within a specific sector. Participants are tasked with identifying key issues affecting the sector in the next 5 years and the opportunities that exist for pre-empting them. Attendees are encouraged to collaborate to leverage their combined knowledge in developing solutions. KiwiNet's current Foresighting initiatives include robotics, plastics and water care.

KiwiNet is working to increase the scale and impact of commercialisation in New Zealand by facilitating a more collaborative and capable commercialisation system. KiwiNet acts as a hub for commercialisation for its member organisations as well as the wider innovation system.