2018 KiwiNet Awards finalists announced

Thursday 31st May 2018

Baldwins are proud to partner with KiwiNet to bring the KiwiNet Awards to life once again in 2018. Twelve stunning finalists have been selected for the sixth annual KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards, designed to celebrate impact from science through successful research commercialisation within New Zealand’s universities and Crown Research Institutes.


The innovative researchers and cutting edge research commercialisation projects include: insect receptor sensors, infinitely rechargeable batteries, real-time nitrate sensors, ‘Hot Lime’ to help feed the world, air quality measurement sensors and systems, biological tools to control plant disease, virtual and augmented reality technology, research for the world’s largest radio telescope, high speed train travel, smart sensors for wearables, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) competition, plant-based weight management extract, and MRI-safe electrode implants.

The Kiwi Innovation Network (KiwiNet) is a consortium of 16 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.

CEO James Hutchinson says, “Yet again, we’ve found amazing teams from around the country who are creating commercial potential from their highly innovative science.  These research projects and new technologies have the power to help solve global problems and kick-start valuable new companies, which will help enable a higher achieving New Zealand.”

The 2018 KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards finalists are:

Norman F. B. Barry Foundation Breakthrough Innovator Award

  • Dr Andrew Kralicek, Plant & Food Research: Harnessing insects’ receptors for commercial sensing.
  • Dr Deborah Crittenden, University of Canterbury: Infinitely rechargeable batteries; real-time nitrate sensors.
  • Dr Vlatko Materić, Hot Lime Labs: ‘Hot Lime’ to increase greenhouse crop yields and help feed the world.

Baldwins Researcher Entrepreneur Award

  • Professor David Williams, University of Auckland and MacDiarmid Institute: Air Quality Measurement for Everyone: Sensors, systems and networks.
  • Dr Philip Elmer, Plant & Food Research: Biological tools to control plant disease and reduce pesticides.
  • Associate Professor Taehyun Rhee, Victoria University of Wellington: Taking New Zealand’s virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology to the world.

MinterEllisonRuddWatts Research & Business Partnership Award

  • AUT and the NZ SKA Alliance: Square Kilometre Array Radio Telescope (SKA) – NZ is a member of its first ever global mega-science project jointly undertaking research and design behind the world’s largest radio telescope.
  • Victoria University’s Robinson Research Institute and Chinese partners: Revolutionising high speed train travel.
  • StretchSense and Auckland UniServices: StretchSense - next generation smart soft sensors for wearables.

PwC Commercial Impact Award

  • Callaghan Innovation: C-Prize Competition - Transforming NZ’s Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) sector.
  • Plant & Food Research: Amarasate® Extract – 100% plant-based, world-first weight management extract.
  • University of Waikato and WaikatoLink: MRI-Safe human-implantable electrodes – licensing deal with Saluda.

The BNZ Supreme Award is awarded to the category winner with overall excellence in all core areas of research commercialisation.

The KiwiNet Awards judging panel comprises: Dr Andrew Kelly an Executive Director at BioPacific Partners, Helen Robinson (ONZM) the Executive Chair at Organic Initiative, Bridget Coates the co-founder of Kura™ and Chairman of White Cloud Dairy Innovation Ltd, Paul Dyson an entrepreneur and non-executive director, and Veronica Harwood-Stevenson the founder of humble bee and Spindle Fibre Films and a member of the Return on Science Momentum Investment Committee.

Lead judge Dr Andrew Kelly says, “I feel like we say this every year, but the quality of commercialisation in this country really is getting better. Each of the four Award categories was strong and demonstrated the power of outstanding research innovation backed by real commercial savvy. In fact the judging panel had the longest (and hardest) discussion we’ve ever had. We’re looking forward to Awards day very, very much.”

The annual KiwiNet Awards are designed to recognise and celebrate impact from science through successful research commercialisation. Sponsorship support is provided by BNZ, MinterEllisonRuddWatts, PwC, Baldwins, MBIE, Norman F. B. Barry Foundation, and Sciencelens photography.

Jason Lewthwaite, Senior Partner at BNZ says, “With the world being on the cusp of change unlike any other time through history, and science and technology being a key driver of this change, the opportunity has never been better for NZ based innovators to achieve global scalability. BNZ are again very proud to be part of this event, which celebrates the best of the best from across NZ who have successfully transformed an innovative idea or concept, through commercialisation into a successful business and thereby have helped to achieve a higher performing New Zealand.”

KiwiNet partner organisations include WaikatoLink, Plant & Food Research, Otago Innovation Ltd, Lincoln University, AUT Enterprises, AgResearch, University of Canterbury, Callaghan Innovation, Viclink, Landcare Research, Cawthron Institute, ESR, NIWA, Scion, Malaghan Institute, and GNS Science.  Principal support is provided by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE).

Paul Stocks, Deputy Chief Executive of MBIE's Labour, Science and Enterprise group, says “The range of innovative research reaching market this year will go a long way to solving some of the most pressing issues facing New Zealand.”

Winners of the KiwiNet Awards 2018 will be announced at an evening reception on 5 July in Auckland.  

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