MacDiarmid Institute affiliated spinout companies

What we do

MacDiarmid Institute affiliated spinout companies

To help benefit New Zealand, including its economy, we create high-tech spinoff companies with our students to attract further funding and take our innovations into the marketplace. We aim to transform New Zealand’s economy by catalysing the growth of the deep tech and hi-tech industry sectors through new science discovery. Since 2002, our students and Investigators have spun-out 27 new hi-tech start up companies.

April 2023 Spinout Diagram with MI logo v3 Nano Cluster Devices Ltd Magritek Aeroqual Publons Noblebond Mote Boutiq Science Ltd Engender Technologies Nanogirl Labs Hi Aspect Auramer Bio Orbis Diagnostics Ltd White Rabbit Scientific Advemto Maramalabs Zincovery Litmaps Silventum SapVax Spot Check Technologies Tasmanion Allegro Energy Liquium SuperCarbon Bspkl - Activates sustainability through innovative manufacturing. Our first product is an ultra-low iridium catalyst coated membrane to easy supply chain bottlenecks for the green hydrogen industry. Captivate Technology - Developing metal-organic-frameworks for carbon dioxide capture to support industries achieve Carbon Zero. Opo - Enabling large scale cultivated meat production through high performing cell lines and ingredients.

MacDiarmid Institute affiliated-spinout companies are at different stages of their lifecycle - from initial concept launch and attracting investment through to tech incubation and, if successful, product manufacture.

As of December 2022:

  • 27 affiliated start-up companies had raised $23.2 million in commercial investment 
  • 73 inventions  patented

Below are introductions to some of our affiliated spinout companies:


Advemto, a start-up developing within Wellington Univentures led by Principal Investigator Professor Justin Hodgkiss, makes ultra-fast, excited-state spectral dynamics more accessible, enabling higher quality results, with deeper insights into a more diverse class of samples. Customers can get complete data then select exactly the outcomes they want, providing richer insights without having to be experts in spectroscopy.


Aeroqual was established by Emeritus Investigator Professor David Williams, and manufactures low-cost air pollution sensors. The company now employs 30 people and sells its products throughout the world.


Auramer Bio Ltd

Auramer Bio Ltd was established by MacDiarmid Institute Principal Investigator and Co-Director, Professor Justin Hodgkiss, Victoria University of Wellington. The company is developing aptamers; new antibodies made in the lab from DNA and designed to bind to very specific targets. Aptamers can target hormones for fertility treatment or methamphetamine for drug testing, etc.

Boutiq Science Ltd

Boutiq Science Ltd is a spin-off company from Victoria University of Wellington and the MacDiarmid Institute, founded by former Principal Investigator Professor Richard Tilley and operated by MacDiarmid Institute alumnus Dr Anna Henning. Boutiq aims to be a leading supplier of unique nanoparticles to the research science and engineering community.


Bspkl, pronounced (bɪˈspɛkəl) was established in 2023 by former Associate Investigator from GNS Science, Dr Jérôme Leveneur, as co-founder. Bspkl activates sustainability through innovative manufacturing, with their first product being an ultra-low iridium catalyst coated membrane to easy supply chain bottlenecks for the green hydrogen industry.

Captivate Technology

Captivate Technology is a new (2022) startup set up by MacDiarmid Institute Principal Investigator Professor Shane Telfer, to develop metal-organic-frameworks for carbon dioxide capture to support industries achieve Carbon Zero.

Engender Technologies

Engender Technologies uses materials science plus photonics to sort sperm for the dairy industry. Led by MacDiarmid Institute Emeritus Investigator Professor Cather Simpson, University of Auckland, the company won the Agtech category of the prestigious 2016 Silicon Valley Forum Tech World Cup. In November 2018 the company was acquired by animal genetics company CRV International.

Hi-Aspect Ltd

Hi-Aspect Ltd was set up in 2015 by MacDiarmid Institute Emeritus Investigator Professor Juliet Gerrard, University of Auckland, to develop a new protein-based nanomaterial that can heal skin. Its applications include skincare products and gels, films and patches for use in wound dressings and cosmetics.


Liquium was set up by Associate Investigator Associate Professor Franck Natali in 2022 to develop new catalyst materials for a greener, cheaper and scalable ammonia production.


Litmaps was set up by Alumnus Dr Kyle Webster and Axton Pitt in 2016. Litmaps performs natural language processing and citation mapping for visual research navigation, citation network search, and team synchronization.


MaramaLabs is led by two MacDiarmid Institute alumni Dr Brendan Darby and Dr Matthias Meyer, and Principal Investigator Professor Eric Le Ru, Victoria University of Wellington. Their technology CloudSpec uses light to analyse cloudy solutions, such as paint, wastewater, algae growth, bioliquids, foods and beverages, including beer and wine.


Mote (formerly AirQuality Ltd) was established with Emeritus Investigator Professor David Williams, University of Auckland and employs several scientists. Mote manufactures sensing networks that provide reliable pollutant data for industry, such as vehicle fleet exhaust emissions, carbon monoxide emissions and wastewater treatment data.

Nanogirl Labs

Nanogirl Labs was started by former MacDiarmid Institute Associate Investigator Dr Michelle Dickinson. The company creates products and experiences for people everywhere to experience STEM, including her live-action show Nanogirl and Science Kitchen Cookbook

Opo Bio Aotearoa

Opo Bio Aotearoa, established in 2022 by MacDiarmid Institute Principal Investigator Dr Laura Domigan and alumna Dr Olivia Ogilvie, aims to supply cells from Aotearoa New Zealand to the cultivated meat industry to enable large scale production through high performing cell lines and ingredients. 

Orbis Diagnostics Ltd

Orbis Diagnostics Ltd has been established by MacDiarmid Institute Emeritus Investigators Professor Cather Simpson and Professor David Williams of the University of Auckland. Orbis is developing an affordable device for dairy sheds that will enable farmers to see the protein and fat content of each cow’s milk to help them assess the health of the cow.

Radio New Zealand  item on the  Orbis “Milk on a Disc” project:

'Milk on a disc' from Our Changing World, 9:06 pm on 11 August 2016


Silventum is the brainchild of former MacDiarmid Institute Principal Investigator Dr Carla Meledandri, University of Otago, who has developed a non-staining antimicrobial, silver nanoparticle formulation to arrest tooth decay and make teeth more resistant to recurrent infection.

Spot Check Technologies

Spot Check Technologies is a collaboration between MacDiarmid Institute Emeritus Investigator Professor David Williams and Principal Investigator Professor Jadranka Travas-Sejdic, both from the University of Auckland. Spot Check provides low-cost, on-the-spot detection of DNA signatures of infectious and chronic diseases, and won the prestigious Velocity 100k Challenge in 2016.


SuperCarbon is a 2022 University of Auckland spinout set up by Principal Investigator Professor Jadranka Travas-Sejdic to create a proprietary antibacterial and antiviral carbon-based platform with applications in air filtration and healthcare


TasmanIon was established in 2021 by Emeritus Investigator Professor Jim Johnston and alumna Dr Shalini Divya to develop novel non-flammable aluminium-ion battery technologies suited for grid storage and portable applications.

White Rabbit Scientific Ltd

White Rabbit Scientific Ltd was established in 2020 by former Principal Investigator Professor Bill Williams and alumnus Dr Rob Ward as materials science engineering company developing a range of plug-and-play products incorporating microfluidics, microscopy and automation.


Zincovery is a startup emerging from our University of Canterbury based Principal Investigator Professor Aaron Marshall that recycles the galvanizing industry’s spent acid and zinc for reuse as valuable raw materials. Aaron and former UC student, Jono Ring, developed a process which recovers high purity zinc, iron and acid from material that would otherwise become expensive landfill. The team is one of the ten finalists in the Callaghan C Prize and is developing industry scale demonstration plant before launching in the international market.