KiwiNet News 28 November 2017

Researchers fast tracking publicly funded research to market celebrated

Hamilton, 28 November 2017

Eleven researchers were celebrated at the inaugural graduation event for the KiwiNet Emerging Innovator Programme last night. The KiwiNet Emerging Innovator Programme, which immerses early career researchers in the world of commercialisation, was enabled due to the generous support of the Norman Barry Foundation which owns the Quality Hotel Parnell.

11 researchers were celebrated at the inaugural graduation event for the KiwiNet Emerging Innovator Programme

The KiwiNet Emerging Innovator Programme was established 2 years ago to give young researchers a solid platform of skills and experience to get science to market, and fast track commercial success. 22 kiwi scientists have been accepted into the programme to date.

Dr James Hutchinson, CEO of KiwiNet says, “It’s fantastic to see the programme fuelling an entrepreneurial spirit within recipients.  One of KiwiNet’s critical roles is to enable researchers to better transform their scientific discoveries into impact for New Zealand. We’ve developed a successful toolbox of skills, support and networks that when combined with small amounts of highly focused funding can deliver outstanding commercialisation results.”

John Smith, Chairman of the Norman Barry Foundation says, “We’re very pleased to be supporting this KiwiNet initiative to help bright young people make a long lasting difference for New Zealand.  We saw an opportunity to have a big impact in the early stages of a researcher’s commercialisation journey where it’s hard to gain support otherwise.”

Several innovative researchers from the first cohort of 11 in the programme have already set up commercial ventures or are in the process of doing so.

Dr Vlatko Materić founder and CEO of Hot Lime Labs, which has developed new greenhouse CO2 capture technology to increase yields, says the programme was critical in the creation of his venture.  “The initial funding, guidance and credibility the award gave me was critical and without it I would not have successfully created a venture. Hot Lime Labs has generated a lot of market interest and we’re already employing staff and creating value.”

Dr Swati Gupta, a principal research scientist at Callaghan Innovation, has developed Talk With Me a software-based tool that helps children with autism to experience the joy of social conversation.  Swati recently founded Inclusys Ltd to commercialise this technology.  “KiwiNet was instrumental in making my venture a reality as it allowed me to understand what the commercialisation of research entails and this motivated me to go on this exciting entrepreneurial journey.”

Chair of KiwiNet’s Investment Committee Andrew Turnbull says, “There is a huge amount of time and effort required to get help a researcher turn their project into an entity that is investor-ready. I am proud to see we’ve already enabled several ventures to get off the ground.  We’ve attracted the attention of investors even though the ventures are in the very early stages, as the founding scientists are well supported with commercialisation expertise and networks.”

The KiwiNet Emerging Innovator Programme is available to early-career researchers based at universities and Crown Research Institutes across New Zealand. The programme is designed to boost research with a commercial application at a critical time. It also enables researchers to partner with a business and refine their project for market. Recipients also receive expert legal advice from KiwiNet corporate partners, MinterEllisonRuddWatts and IP advice from Baldwins.

Dr Hutchinson adds, “We’re delighted to see that graduates from the programme are now inspiring their colleagues to follow in their footsteps, and this is beginning to drive entrepreneurial culture change within our research organisations.”

John Smith says, “The Foundation was set up after the passing of the Hotel’s Founder and Owner, Norman F. B. Barry in 2008 to allow his charitable work to continue to benefit New Zealand. We’re delighted to see the ongoing support of the guests who stay with Quality Hotel Parnell is resulting in the creation of some new science based businesses that will go on to provide widespread benefit around the country.”

For further information please contact:
Sandra Lukey
Shine Group (PR for KiwiNet)
Cell: +64 21 2262 858

About KiwiNet Emerging Innovator Programme
The KiwiNet Emerging Innovator Programme was established in 2015 by KiwiNet with the generous philanthropic support of the Norman Barry Foundation. The aim of the Emerging Innovator Programme is to have more scientists with disruptive new ideas working alongside businesses to solve industry challenges. It is open to scientists from public research organisation who demonstrate a clever new idea and a willingness to work closely with industry as they develop a prototype. The KiwiNet Emerging Innovator Programme is available to early career researchers based at universities and Crown Research Institutes across New Zealand.

About the Norman Barry Foundation
The Norman Barry Foundation, is a charitable trust registered under the Charities Act 2005. Norman Barry was an entrepreneur and a philanthropist who established the Quality Hotel Parnell. During his successful business career, he mentored motel owners in Auckland who were new to the industry and helped various charitable organisations in the form of donations. Norman left his shareholding in Quality Hotel Parnell Limited to the Foundation, and the distributions from this Company to the Foundation are used for charitable donations. In addition, Quality Hotel Parnell Limited is also a registered charity in its own right and this company also makes donations to the community.