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2022 KiwiNet Awards winners: research innovations making an impact for Aotearoa

Winners of the 10th annual KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards were celebrated at a gala event in Auckland tonight for their vision and success in taking life-changing research discoveries to market. The winners, selected from a record number of finalists, include a new test for gastric function, a breakthrough innovator responsible for a disruptive zinc recycling process, a university student set to launch a cauliflower-based ice cream and tech for measuring the chemical structure of molecules. Research entrepreneurs and commercialisation professionals were also honoured for their work, and renowned deep-tech leader Professor Cather Simpson was named KiwiNet’s Commercialisation Icon.

The KiwiNet Awards celebrate the scientific discoveries being successfully developed and launched into the market from New Zealand’s universities, Crown Research Institutes and other research organisations and their impact on Aotearoa and beyond.

KiwiNet CEO Dr James Hutchinson says the outstanding quality of finalists and winners in the 10th annual KiwiNet Awards represent how the collective skillset across the research commercialisation ecosystem has stepped up over the past decade, a positive sign of things to come.

“The finalist presentations were fantastic, with high-quality technology, deals, investors, and expertise combining to turn research discoveries into high-impact new technologies and services. We also celebrated the thousands of research discoveries universities and research institutes have worked on over the past ten years to bring them to market. We’re now at an inflexion point – with the sophistication and maturity of the ecosystem delivering enormous environmental, social, and economic impact in Aotearoa New Zealand and beyond.”

The 2022 KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards winners are:

Momentum Student Entrepreneur

  • Mrinali Kumar, Massey University: Is it ice cream? Yeah, Kinda

Breakthrough Innovator Award

  • Jonathan Ring – Zincovery / University of Canterbury: Zincovery – Decarbonising zinc recycling

Researcher Entrepreneur Award

  • Professor Justin Hodgkiss, Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington: A leader in deep-tech research commercialisation

Commercialisation Professional Award

  • Evelyn Body, UniServices: Unique combination of expertise delivering exceptional outcomes

Breakthrough Project Award

  • Gastric Alimetry, UniServices: Gastric Alimetry – The new test of gastric function

Judges special mention/highly-commended: RespirAq, AUT Ventures: Waterless, active, heated respiratory humidification

Commercialisation Impact Award

  • Magritek: Massey Ventures and Wellington UniVentures – Beautiful science to business

Commercialisation Icon Award

  • Professor Cather Simpson: University of Auckland – An inspirational commercialisation leader, advocate, and entrepreneur, driving returns for Aotearoa and empowering the next generation

In addition to the six prestigious category awards, the Commercialisation Icon is awarded as KiwiNet’s highest honour to a champion of New Zealand’s research commercialisation community who has made an outstanding impact in the ecosystem and advanced the commercialisation of publicly funded research within New Zealand.

Judging panel convenor Andrew Turnbull, director, advisor and business owner, says: “It has been a privilege to be a part of the judging process and see the very high quality of all the finalists up-close. There is so much to celebrate, not just within the finalists and winners of the categories but within the ecosystem as a whole. KiwiNet and Return on Science, in partnership with the commercialisation offices, have pioneered many important interventions to help champion the case for commercialisation to bring real-world impact from world-class research. We are now seeing these come through in some great commercialisation outcomes. This space takes a long time to mature, and it is great to see the long-term commitment to it producing tangible outcomes.”

Imche Fourie – CEO, Outset Ventures and Tori McNoe – Programme Manager | Return On Science – Momentum joined Andrew Turnbull on the final KiwiNet Awards judging panel.

Chris Bunny, Deputy Secretary Labour, Science, and Enterprise, of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, congratulates this year’s winners: “The KiwiNet Awards showcase the high standard of talent and skill we have in Aotearoa. Congratulations to those who have won this year and to their teams that have supported them along the way. MBIE is honoured to support the commercialisation of New Zealand’s outstanding research.”

Hutchinson adds, “The KiwiNet Awards provide an opportunity to celebrate some amazing innovation, people, and teams. We’re very appreciative of the support from MBIE, Return On Science and Momentum, as well as Matū for sponsoring the Momentum Student Entrepreneur – who have helped make this possible.”

The Kiwi Innovation Network (KiwiNet) is the combined power 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.

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