Yesterday I attended the inaugural KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards. As the name suggests, these awards are intended to celebrate research that has successfully made its way (or making its way) into the market.
During the day we listened to pitches from each of the 12 finalists. Each touched on their journeys towards success in an effort to convince the judges, and the those of us in the audience, they deserved an award. Given that commercialisation successes take many forms the awards were split into four categories:
- Commercialisation Collaboration Award
- Researcher Entrepreneur Award
- Research & Business Partnership Award
- Commercial Deal Award
My own organisation, Plant & Food Research, was a finalist in the collaboration award category for their ‘Land Use Change & Intensification’ research programme. From this programme a number of tools have been developed that help “ land users and policy makers to assess and better manage the impacts associated with land use change and intensification on agricultural productivity and the environment” (Ref:PFR website). And whilst I was there to obviously show my support I was interested in how other organisations had brought their innovations to market.
Of particular interest was the winner of the Commercial Deal Award, Otago Innovation Ltd and their product ‘TOXINZ’. TOXINZ is a poison information database that has evolved out of the work from the 50-year-old National Poisons Centre in Dunedin. It ‘contains more than 190,000 documents with up-to-date information on poisonous chemicals, pharmaceuticals, plants and animals, operating 24/7’ ( Ref:ODT).
What peaked my interest in TOXINZ was that its not a fancy tech thing that is guarded by a wall of patents. It’s simply an aggregation of important and up to date data that people need easy access too. Whilst it could have been easy just to remain as a tool for our national poison centre, after all a tool that is saving kiwis’ lives is a pretty achievement already, the team at Otago Innovation sought to make it into a global success and are now well on their way. Given the Chatham House Rule applied at the event, unfortunately that’s all I can say about it. But keep your eyes open for anything that pops up in the media over the next few weeks.
Other winners were:
- Commercialisation Collaboration Award – Callaghan Innovation & Ovine Automation
- Researcher Entrepreneur Award – The University of Auckland/ Auckland Uniservices for Inductive Power Technologies
- Research & Business Partnership Award – AUT and Cloud Bay Group
Overall, a great day that showed off some great examples of kiwis commercialising research. Given this is something we haven’t traditionally been good at, let’s hope this is the start of a positive change.