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2022 KiwiNet Awards finalists: The NZ research heroes and their innovations that are changing our lives

HAMILTON, NZ, 18 August 2022 – Eighteen remarkable finalists are in the spotlight for the 10th annual KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards, which celebrate the scientific discoveries being successfully commercialised within New Zealand’s universities, Crown Research Institutes and other research organisations, and their impact on Aotearoa and beyond.

This year the KiwiNet Awards recognise a record number of finalists whose passion and energy see them transforming their research into innovative new technologies and businesses. These include ingestible gut robots, drinking water analysis tech, smarter materials, Covid-killing air filtration media, gastric function test, decarbonising zinc recycling, DNA-based diagnostics, swallowing impairment rehabilitation, plant-based ice cream, low-carbon ammonia production, ultrafast optical spectrometers and airway humidification technology. New Zealand’s research commercialisation professionals are also recognised.

KiwiNet CEO Dr James Hutchinson says the 10th annual KiwiNet Awards represents a milestone for the KiwiNet whānau of universities and research institutes who, over the past decade, have worked on thousands of projects to take research discoveries to market.

“This year, we will celebrate the finalists as well as our collective success over the past decade in supporting innovations to market and making a difference. The diverse and entrepreneurial individuals and teams across this growing ecosystem working to create impact from science are nothing short of inspiring. And their work matters to us all, as these new technologies and services have the potential to transform lives and provide longstanding environmental, social, and economic impact – creating enormous benefit for Aotearoa now and in the future.”

The 2022 KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards finalists are:

Momentum Student Entrepreneur

(Left to right)

  • Mrinali Kumar, Massey University: Is it ice cream? Yeah, Kinda
  • Muhammad Rehan, Massey University: Ingestible robot for gut sampling
  • Ben Scales, University of Canterbury: Designing a better world through smarter materials

Breakthrough Innovator Award

(Left to right)

  • Jonathan Ring – Zincovery/ University of Canterbury: Zincovery – Decarbonising zinc recycling
  • Dr Alex Risos – RisosEnterprises/ Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of Auckland: Revolutionising water safety for the world 
  • Dr Richard Winkworth – Ampersand Technologies/ Massey University: Protecting primary industries and the environment with next-generation DNA diagnostics 

Researcher Entrepreneur Award

(Left to right)

  • Professor Justin Hodgkiss, Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington: A leader in deep-tech research commercialisation
  • Distinguished Professor Maggie-Lee Huckabee, University of Canterbury: Innovative technologies for rehabilitation of swallowing impairment
  • Associate Professor Franck Natali, Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington: Revolutionising ammonia production while developing student entrepreneurs

Commercialisation Professional Award

(Left to right)

  • Evelyn Body, UniServices: Unique combination of expertise delivering exceptional outcomes
  • Michael Fielding, AUT Ventures: A versatile, empathetic, and inspirational teammate and leader
  • Stephanie Grant, Wellington UniVentures: Working to safeguard the research of innovators throughout NZ

Breakthrough Project Award

(Left to right)

  • FilterLayr Eco, NanoLayr: FilterLayr™ Eco – The bio-derived, Covid-killing air filtration media
  • Gastric Alimetry, UniServices: Gastric Alimetry – The new test of gastric function
  • RespirAq, AUT Ventures: Waterless, active, heated respiratory humidification

Commercialisation Impact Award

(Left to right)

  • Ligar: Wintec Te Pūkenga and WaikatoLink – Ligar, world-first commercial purification platform
  • Magritek: Massey Ventures and Wellington UniVentures – Beautiful science to business
  • Zespri RubyRed: Plant & Food Research and Zespri – RubyRed, expanding our offering of the world’s best kiwifruit

The 2022 KiwiNet Awards judging panel comprises Andrew Turnbull – Director, Advisor and Business Owner, Imche Fourie – CEO, Outset Ventures, Katherine Sandford – Executive Chair, UBCO Utility Electric Vehicles, and Tori McNoe – Programme Manager | Return On Science – Momentum.

Judging panel convenor Andrew Turnbull says: “The standard of entries was outstanding, and the judges were impressed to see such diverse projects across very different spheres. Our brightest scientists and engineers genuinely seek to apply their skills and ingenuity to make a real and lasting difference in the world around us. The passion the individuals and teams have for what they are trying to achieve, usually against some significant challenges, is impressive. It’s clear this space has significantly matured over the past decade, and it’s exciting to see the potential of the NZ deep tech sector to improve lives here and globally. Congratulations to all entrants, finalists and supporters for your high-impact work.”

Chris Bunny, Deputy Secretary Labour, Science, and Enterprise, of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, says: “Supporting research products into the market closes the link that turns great ideas into real impact for our society. These finalists have produced some highly innovative outcomes for Aotearoa.”

Hutchinson adds, “The KiwiNet Awards showcase some truly outstanding innovation, people and teams – and we’re grateful for support from MBIE, Return On Science and Momentum, as well as Matū for sponsoring the Momentum Student Entrepreneur.”

The Kiwi Innovation Network (KiwiNet) is a consortium of 19 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 Awards winners for 2022 will be announced at an evening reception on 6 October in Auckland.

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