18 May, 2018
One of the main achievements in 2017 was the hosting of the Interface challenge where MacDiarmid investigators were paired up with a variety of industry challenges. Feedback from the industry participants was unbelievably positive, highlighting to me that what goes on inside our “University ivory towers” is not usually seen as very accessible by the business community. This is something the wider science community needs to work on, and could do well to follow this lead by the MacDiarmid Institute.
We have continued to make good progress on seeing the work of MacDiarmid scientists being commercialised, with Sapvax (Margaret Brimble), Silventum (Carla Meledandri) and SpotCheck Technologies (Jadranka Travas-Sejdic and David Williams) established, the latter also supported by Return on Science to take things to the next level and seek investor funding. It was also pleasing to note that two companies associated with our investigators raised second round funding: Auramer Bio (Justin Hodgkiss) and Hi Aspect (Juliet Gerrard). Engender Technologies (Cather Simpson) is currently undertaking a major capital raise.
The scientific achievements by our investigators have continued at a high level as reflected in the $50m worth of MBIE bids awarded to associated teams.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank our two retiring Deputy Directors Nicola Gaston and Justin Hodgkiss, who have both put in a lot of effort into their roles over the last two and a half years. I believe we have made good solid progress in both industry engagement and education outreach under their leadership. My own term came to an end at the end of 2017 and I therefore wish Thomas Nann and his team every success in the future. In particular the MacDiarmid rebid will be a key focus over the next three years. I firmly hope the government will continue to see the huge benefits the MacDiarmid Institute delivers to the New Zealand science scene and to the economy, both in terms of human capital and economic impact.
After three full and rewarding years as Chair on the MacDiarmid Board, I hand over this role to Paul Atkins. Paul brings expertise as CEO of Zealandia. He is on the boards of several other companies, and chaired the board of Boutiq Science Ltd, a MacDiarmid Institute spinout company, until the end of 2017. He brings many years’ experience in marketing and business development and I am very pleased to be leaving the Chair role in such strong and capable hands.
Dr Ray Thomson