Deep tech the winner on the night at the 2022 KiwiNet Commercialisation Awards

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Deep tech the winner on the night at the 2022 KiwiNet Commercialisation Awards

7 October, 2022

Deep tech shone at the 2022 KiwiNet Commercialisation Awards, with four of the winners directly connected with the Institute:

Three other MacDiarmid-related researchers were shortlisted for the awards this year:

Speaking after the event, Deputy Director for Commercialisation and Industry Engagement, Associate Professor Geoff Willmott, said "It’s been a fantastic night for the Institute - congratulations to all the MacDiarmid people and teams who contributed. We couldn’t have asked for a better validation of our value to the ecosystem and our commercialisation vision. Everyone in the room tonight was given a clear view of the link between the legacy of Sir Paul Callaghan and our Institute’s present and future success stories, embodied by Cather, Franck, Justin, Jono, Rehan and Alex."

We couldn’t have asked for a better validation of our value to the ecosystem and our commercialisation vision.

Associate Professor Geoff Willmott Deputy Director for Commercialisation and Industry Engagement The MacDiarmid Institute

The KiwiNet Awards celebrate individuals and organisations leading research commercialisation within New Zealand's universities, Crown research institutes and other research organisations. Cited as "The NZ research heroes and their innovations that are changing our lives".

The Institute congratulates all 2022 KiwiNet Commercialisation Awards finalists and winners.

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(Top: Left to Right) Jono Ring, Prof Cather Simpson. (Bottom: Left to Right) Magritek and Prof Justin Hodgkiss

Further information:

Breakthrough Innovator

Alumnus Jonathan Ring won the Breakthrough Innovator Award for Zincovery – Decarbonising Zinc recycling.

The award recognises an upcoming entrepreneurial researcher who is making an outstanding contribution to research commercialisation in New Zealand

The judges said they were extremely impressed with Jonathan’s clear entrepreneurial talent and skillset, and how he has successfully navigated some very difficult challenges and business decisions with Zincovery. They were also amazed with his progress and Zincovery’s success in a relatively short time. Jonathan’s passion for what he does, his willingness to listen and adapt, and his recognition that he is standing on the shoulders of those that have gone before, is admirable and will set him up for immense success.

Researcher Entrepreneur

Professor Justin Hodgkiss won the Research Entrepreneur Award for pursuing commercial outcomes and supporting early career researchers to be part of this journey

This award recognises an experienced entrepreneurial researcher who has made outstanding contributions to research commercialisation impact in New Zealand

The judges were drawn to Justin’s journey throughout his career, and admired how early commercialisation setbacks had fueled him on to do more. They said he has a clear and genuine passion for all areas of commercialisation, and his influence on the wider ecosystem has been far-reaching – he is an inspiring leader and has been instrumental in creating an entrepreneurial culture at the MacDiarmid Institute. Judges were impressed with his impact and achievements so far, for himself and others, and look forward to seeing what else he can do for the sector in the years to come.

Commercialisation Impact

One of the Institute’s first spinout companies Magritek won the Commercialisation Impact Award for ‘Beautiful science into business’

This award celebrates a project that demonstrates excellence in research commercialisation delivering outstanding innovation performance and generating significant impact for New Zealand – whether environmental, social, cultural, job creation, or direct or indirect impact on export earnings.

Judges were inspired by Magritek’s 18-year journey as a trailblazer - from the early days of ‘trying to survive’ within a commercialisation ecosystem that was still in its early stages, to becoming a highly profitable, durable business that is growing year-on-year and continues to invest in R&D. Its huge commercial returns have created a spill-over effect for the entire research commercialisation sector in NZ. It is hard to overstate the pioneering impact this business has had on our sector in terms of building confidence in research commercialisation and what is possible. The judges also noted that the collaboration between Massey Ventures and UniVentures to take this science to market is a lesson in the success of a good partnership. Magritek is an impressive example of NZ doing a niche technology extremely well. 

Commercialisation Icon

Emeritus Investigator Professor Cather Simpson, University of Auckland, won the Commercialisation Icon Award

Cather Simpson is a physicist and chemist at the University of Auckland. In 2010 she founded the Photon Factory, which has attracted millions of dollars in commercial contracts and acts as a ‘high impact’ commercial hub. She has also been involved in the formation of two successful startup ventures; Engender Technologies, and Orbis Diagnostics; which have already provided significant returns and impact for Aotearoa. Cather is also a Partner in deep-tech investment company Pacific Channel.

Cather is a supportive and inspirational leader, who is widely respected in the areas of innovation in undergraduate teaching, women in science, and ethics in education and research. In 2015 she co-founded the Science Scholars Program at the University of Auckland, and publicly advocates for diversity in science. Cather continues to be involved with the companies and innovations she has helped develop, while also acting as a mentor and advisor across the deep-tech commercialisation space and raising the external profile of the sector in NZ.

She is also a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry and the Royal Society Te Aparangi and has received several prestigious accolades for her impactful work.

With an impressive track record of commercial engagement, Cather is leading by example, continually demonstrating how University researchers can use cutting edge science and business acumen to power business innovation and grow the economy, and empowering the next generation of New Zealand science entrepreneurs.