KiwiNet News 13 July 2011

KiwiNet collaboration a bold advancement for science and technology commercialisation in New Zealand

13 July 2011

KiwiNet will act as a hub for commercialisation activities for its member organisations, as well as participants in the wider innovation system, as they work to create commercial outcomes from science and technology research. Founding members include WaikatoLink, Plant & Food Research, Otago Innovation Ltd, Lincoln University, AUT Enterprises, AgResearch, University of Canterbury, Industrial Research Ltd and Viclink.

Hon Ruth Richardson, Chairman of KiwiNet says, "We live in an era where discovery is the new currency and the success with which nations can foster the climate for innovation will determine their future prosperity. Much rests on our capacity to commercialise the ideas, schemes and dreams of our brightest and best as a small but competitive nation. Ambition to succeed in forging an innovative economy is one thing, but the acid is now on to lift our ability to execute that goal. We cannot be content with the status quo."

KiwiNet members, with a total combined research expenditure of more than $500 million, encompass the large proportion of NZ's science capability. Members have already demonstrated the ability to execute at the early stage of commercialisation but KiwiNet is a bold advancement on this. As a national network with strong institutional and regional presence KiwiNet will reach deeply into the innovation systems and into NZ's major industry sectors. KiwiNet's collaborative commercialisation model enables members to share resources, networks, best practise, IP and experience to create more commercially viable IP and start-ups from research based ventures.

Duncan Mackintosh, Chief Executive of WaikatoLink, the commercial arm of the University of Waikato says, "Through KiwiNet we can capture and transfer University intellectual property assets, along with other work from research institutions and commercial organisations, into New Zealand industry. The investment the University makes in WaikatoLink recognises the importance of transferring IP to industry. Visibility at an early stage allows us to combine IP, if appropriate, and to tap into the skills of the group for commercialisation. This means we're not duplicating effort and we're giving each venture the best chance of success. Our collective goal is to maximise the economic benefits realised from New Zealand's investment in publically funded research."

The collaborative imperative is reinforced by David Hughes, Group General Manager Commercial, Plant & Food Research. "We need to encourage collaboration rather than competitiveness to maximise the commercialisation of research and create high value products with global demand. The Crown Research Institutes within KiwiNet provide a vital link to many of New Zealand's key productive sectors. CRIs and Universities can better support these sectors by working together. CRIs bring deep knowledge of their sectors while Universities bring a diversity of experience. What we're doing in the wine industry with Lincoln University is a great example of this. We are combining Lincoln's biochemistry expertise with our viticulture and sensory experience to manage key aroma compounds in Sauvignon Blanc wine. KiwiNet will allow us to collectively achieve real flow-on effects to add value for industry."

Investor and director Andrew Turnbull and well-known entrepreneur Bill Day, Chairman elect of the Investment Committee join Hon Ruth Richardson as independent directors of KiwiNet.

KiwiNet expect their strong track record to attract fresh interest from two important quarters; the investors who are on the hunt for propositions of commercial promise, and other entities with ideas who will want to test them through KiwiNet.

Neville Jordan, Executive Chairman of Endeavour Capital, one of New Zealand's leading private equity and venture capital companies says, "The benefits of KiwiNet's strategy are clear cut. Research based organisations generate a wealth of discoveries and these innovations need to establish networks and get close to their markets as quickly as possible. Collaboration and early visibility to investors who understand the potential of these research opportunities dramatically increases the chance of success for ventures. KiwiNet 's approach will accelerate the export growth of New Zealand products and services based on science and technology."

Last week Endeavour Capital, with a strong portfolio of research based ventures, signed a $20 million investment two-way deal with the state government of Florida. The partnership will provide opportunities for expansion into global markets for existing businesses and for US intellectual property to be further developed in New Zealand by KiwiNet members according to Mr Jordan.

KiwiNet provides the essential ingredients of success; strong governance, rigorous investment screening and decision making, well-structured project guidance and monitoring, and the ability to excite and harness investor appetite," says Tim Balmer, Investments & Commercialisation Manager, Industrial Research Ltd.

"KiwiNet has attracted some exciting commercialisation firepower and we have lots of concrete examples of what we've already been able to do. ZyGEM, Magritek, ArcActive, eco-n, SuperGel, HTS-110, Geosense, General Cable Superconductors and Endace are all good examples of companies formed and in-market products from research commercialised from Universities or CRI's that are either already doing well in offshore markets or are showing enormous potential," says Duncan Macintosh.

KiwiNet members are very committed to collectively pushing the boundaries in the search for better and smarter ways to commercially leverage the substantial, but latent and untapped pool of NZ's intellectual property says Ruth Richardson. "As a country we really need to get moving to create the positive economic shifts we need. One way we can do this is to get really bold about executing on an agenda of commercialisation and innovation. KiwiNet is a very practical and crucial push for smart commercialisation."

For further information please contact:

Sandra Lukey
Shine Group
Phone: (03) 374 6753; Cell: +64 21 2262 858

About KiwiNet

The Kiwi Innovation Network currently includes six Universities and three Crown Research Institutes working together in an unprecedented level of collaboration, knowledge and capability sharing in New Zealand. KiwiNet was set up to increase the scale and impact of commercialisation in New Zealand by facilitating a more collaborative and capable commercialisation system. Building on the successful UniCom university consortium model, KiwiNet will act as a hub for commercialisation activities of its member organisations, with a total combined research expenditure of greater than $500 million across the nine founding members. KiwiNet aims to provide a focal point for regional and national collaboration to support its members and participants in the wider innovation system.