2019 Awards Winners

The KiwiNet Awards celebrate heroes in research commercialisation — those individuals and organisations whose best practice approach is changing the innovation landscape in New Zealand. We congratulate the 2019 winners!

BNZ Supreme Award

This award celebrates the supreme entry which demonstrates overall excellence in all core areas of research commercialisation as voted by the Awards Judges. This award recognises research commercialisation excellence that demonstrates the impact that can be achieved through commercialised Kiwi science - the spirit of the KiwiNet Awards!

Distinguished Professor Dame Margaret Brimble

SAPVAX

UNISERVICES Auckland

University of Auckland

Distinguished Professor Dame Margaret Brimble - University of Auckland and Auckland Uniservices

Pioneering drug discovery and development

A pioneer in drug discovery in New Zealand, Distinguished Professor Dame Margaret Brimble has discovered a treatment for Rett Syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome and autism disorders. Trofinetide, currently entering phase III human clinical trials, is the first drug successfully developed by a New Zealand spin-out company and one of very few discovered in an academic laboratory.

Professor Brimble is founder of start-up biotech company SapVax, which is developing “first-in-class” cancer vaccines based on a novel peptide platform technology and funded by US accelerator BioMotiv. This work was awarded the 2018 George and Christine Sosnovsky Award for Cancer Therapy from the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Her work has recently resulted in two series of lipopeptide compounds being licenced to Living Cell Technologies (LCT) for the treatment of obesity and migraine.

An inventor on 50+ patents, Professor Brimble holds the Chair of Organic Chemistry and is Director of Medicinal Chemistry in the Schools of Chemical Sciences and Biological Sciences at the University of Auckland and Principal Investigator in the Maurice Wilkins Centre. She is past-President of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry Organic Division, the International Society for Heterocyclic Chemistry and the RSNZ Rutherford Foundation.

She is a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for Services to Science, Fellow of the Royal Society London, the Royal Society of Chemistry UK, the NZ Royal Society Te Apārangi, the Royal Australian Chemical Institute and the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry. She is a recipient of the 2016 Marsden Medal, the 2012 RSNZ Rutherford Medal and the MacDiarmid and Hector Medals. She was the 2007 L’Oreal-UNESCO Women in Science laureate in materials science for Asia Pacific and won the 2014 Westpac Trust Women in Influence Award for Science and Technology.

Norman Barry Foundation Breakthrough Innovator Award

This award recognises an upcoming entrepreneurial researcher who is making outstanding contributions to business innovation or is creating innovative businesses in New Zealand through technology licencing, start-up creation or by providing expertise to support business innovation.

Dr Shalen Kumar

AuramerBio

Victoria University of Wellington

Dr Shalen Kumar, AuramerBio

Precision diagnostics made faster, cheaper, and mobile

Dr Shalen Kumar, Co-Founder and CEO of AuramerBio started developing aptamers (synthetic bio-receptors) to enable new high-end precision diagnostic solutions that is affordable and mobile. Shalen started research on Aptamer technology during his undergraduate studies at Victoria University of Wellington with a passion of providing high quality accurate, robust and sensitive medical diagnostic solutions for 3rd world communities and environmental monitoring.

In the US$10b POC biosensor market, AuramerBio is developing total solutions for mobile testing for illicit drugs and female fertility markets. AuramerBio has developed multiplex quantitative tests for up to 8 target molecules in saliva samples in under 3mins. AuramerBio also has Aptamers for steroid and protein hormones, environmental contaminants, amino acids, nutritional compounds, and various diagnostic biomarkers in its catalogue for future market expansion. AuramerBio has both National and International partner companies currently utilising Auramers Aptamers in their platform tech to offer novel diagnostic solutions for their market verticals.

Baldwins Researcher Entrepreneur Award

This award recognises an entrepreneurial researcher who has made outstanding contributions to business innovation or has created innovative businesses in New Zealand through technology licencing, start-up creation or by providing expertise to support business innovation.

Distinguished Professor Dame Margaret Brimble

SAPVAX

UNISERVICES Auckland

University of Auckland

Distinguished Professor Dame Margaret Brimble - University of Auckland and Auckland Uniservices

Pioneering drug discovery and development

A pioneer in drug discovery in New Zealand, Distinguished Professor Dame Margaret Brimble has discovered a treatment for Rett Syndrome, Fragile X Syndrome and autism disorders. Trofinetide, currently entering phase III human clinical trials, is the first drug successfully developed by a New Zealand spin-out company and one of very few discovered in an academic laboratory.

Professor Brimble is founder of start-up biotech company SapVax, which is developing “first-in-class” cancer vaccines based on a novel peptide platform technology and funded by US accelerator BioMotiv. This work was awarded the 2018 George and Christine Sosnovsky Award for Cancer Therapy from the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Her work has recently resulted in two series of lipopeptide compounds being licenced to Living Cell Technologies (LCT) for the treatment of obesity and migraine.

An inventor on 50+ patents, Professor Brimble holds the Chair of Organic Chemistry and is Director of Medicinal Chemistry in the Schools of Chemical Sciences and Biological Sciences at the University of Auckland and Principal Investigator in the Maurice Wilkins Centre. She is past-President of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry Organic Division, the International Society for Heterocyclic Chemistry and the RSNZ Rutherford Foundation.

She is a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for Services to Science, Fellow of the Royal Society London, the Royal Society of Chemistry UK, the NZ Royal Society Te Apārangi, the Royal Australian Chemical Institute and the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry. She is a recipient of the 2016 Marsden Medal, the 2012 RSNZ Rutherford Medal and the MacDiarmid and Hector Medals. She was the 2007 L’Oreal-UNESCO Women in Science laureate in materials science for Asia Pacific and won the 2014 Westpac Trust Women in Influence Award for Science and Technology.

MinterEllisonRuddWatts Commercialisation Professional Award

This award recognises a commercialisation professional working within a New Zealand research organisation who has made an outstanding contribution to the commercialisation of publicly-funded research.

Will Charles

UNISERVICES Auckland

University of Auckland

Will Charles, Auckland UniServices and University of Auckland

Supercharging the commercialisation activities of the University of Auckland

Will Charles has had a significant impact on tech transfer in New Zealand over the past 13 years while leading the commercialisation activities at Auckland UniServices Limited.

Key achievements include: designing and implementing the best practice processes for Return On Science, the expert advisory available to all research organisations in New Zealand; setting up over $65M in venture funds via the Trans-Tasman Commercialisation Fund and University of Auckland Inventors Fund; together with top Australian universities attracting $200M of investment funding from the IP Group; and becoming a member of the $220M+ Medical Research Commercialisation Fund. Will led the sale of HaloIPT to QualComm, the US$10M investment into Soul Machines led by Horizon Ventures, and played an important role in PowerbyProxi’s recent sale.

During the past 30 months under Will Charles’ leadership, UniServices has accelerated its commercialisation activities resulting in 30 new companies, over 150 licensed patents, transacted or exited deals worth over $350m generating $61M in revenues for itself and its start-up companies. Its new companies have attracted $99M of external capital and generated 283 new jobs. Over the same period, UniServices has sourced and reviewed over 300 new ideas from the campus.

Will’s strategic ability and leadership have been core to the success of UniServices growing scale and attracting large pools of investment capital, both locally and externally.

PwC Commercial Impact Award

This award celebrates excellence in research commercialisation delivering outstanding innovation performance and the potential for generating significant economic impact for New Zealand.

Plant & Food Research

Compac

Plant & Food Research and Compac Sorting Equipment

World-leading fruit grading and sorting technologies

Ensuring fresh produce looks, as well as tastes, good is key to the horticulture industry maintaining a supply of premium produce. Efficient sorting of fruit allows marketers of fruit and vegetables to grade produce effectively and efficiently, ensuring consumers aren't disappointed by the quality of their food.

Compac Sorting Equipment's technologies have revolutionised the sorting of fruit and vegetables, enabling the fresh produce industries to meet customer expectation for consistent blemish-free produce. Plant & Food Research and Compac work together to develop and enhance these technologies, ensuring new concepts and developments target industry needs. This seamless collaborative research approach allows continual improvements to Compac's technologies and was critical to the development of the Spectrim™ and Inspectra2™ technologies, released onto the market in late 2016. Through a shared vision, Plant & Food Research and Compac have worked together to build and validate these new technologies, which have allowed Compac to stay ahead of the market and double sales revenue in only four years.

Spectrim™ and Inspectra2™ has allowed marketers to reduce manual handling of fruit and vegetables, while increasing the volume of produce graded as premium. The Spectrim system is an optical and visual sorting platform, while Inspectra uses near-infrared (NIR) light to determine the internal characteristics of produce to allow efficient, automatic grading. Benefits of the system includes the high resolution detection of external and internal defects in 10-15 fruit per second as it moves along the grader. Sales of the Compac technologies have exceeded expectations in the two years since release, with sales of the system in over 50 countries, and have led to increased manufacturing volumes and capabilities at the Auckland-based factory.

Fruit Sorting

Fruit Sorting

Spectrim™ and Inspectra2™ sorting and grading fruit

Momentum Student Entrepreneur Finalists

The award recognises highly motivated New Zealand university students who have made significant progress developing an idea that can change the world.

These students are making outstanding contributions to commercialisation and innovation or has created an innovative business in New Zealand through technology licensing, start-up creation or by providing expertise to support innovation.

Cynthia Hunefeld

HerbScience

Victoria University of Wellington

VicLink

Cynthia Hunefeld, Victoria University of Wellington

HerbScience: Back to the future

Cynthia Hunefeld is on a mission to bring herbal medicine into the 21st Century with the help of modern science. With 20 years of experience in the field of integrative medicine and an academic background in ethnobotany, clinical herbal medicine and clinical research she identifies potential new medicines from a unique perspective.

Helping her father overcome an antibiotic resistant infection with the support of a plant extract was a defining moment for her, which has led to the discovery of an active constituent that can kill bacteria, and secondarily express poly-pharmacological actions to minimise the occurrence of single-step bacterial resistance, inhibit biofilm and bacterial adhesion, and ameliorate tissue damage at the same time.

Cynthia is currently studying towards her Masters in Innovation & Commercialization to establish the road for a novel plant-based for E. coli induced urinary tract infections (UTIs). She is aiming her innovation and commercialization pathway towards the development of a dietary supplement by 2020 and is working towards an evidence- based integrative medicine within the next 3 years.

UTIs are the most common bacterial infection world-wide that affects over 150 million people each year with a market value of 4.69 Bn. The World Health Organisation has indicated that there is a significant shortage of new medicines for E. coli induced UTIs and states that "Novel treatment regimens that are assembling non-toxic medicines are desperately needed".

The project has received recognition with a regional AMP scholarship and was awarded pre-seed funding by the Momentum advisory board.