A Ministerial Visit

Published Jun 9, 2021

In collaboration with KiwiNet, we were thrilled to host the Honourable Dr Megan Woods, Minister of Research, Science and Innovation for a visit on Wednesday 2 June 2021.

The Minister was invited by KiwiNet to meet with some our talented entrepreneurial researchers and hear about some of our commercialisation success stories first-hand. This was a fantastic opportunity for us to also provide more insight into the current positions of the commercialisation industry in New Zealand and for the Minister to see some of the great work coming out of publicly funded research.

Starting in the labs, the Minister met with Wellington UniVenture’s Innovator-in-Residence Dr Franck Natali and Commercialisation Manger Paul Geraghty, to better understand the work behind Liquium, a project using hydrogen to sustainably produce ammonia. With the potential to move away from fossil fuel use in large heavy industries, including the maritime sector, the Minister was interested to learn about the job prospects Liquium could provide for engineers across New Zealand and was keen to connect the Liquium team with other organisations to propel the pathway for renewables.

The Minister then visited Dr Eldon Tate and the team at Inhibit Coatings, a Wellington UniVentures spin-out company using their tech to apply antimicrobial coatings. Most recently, Eldon and his team have proven that their technology can kill 99.9% of human coronavirus in just two hours. The technology can be applied to textiles, filters on face masks and surfaces in vehicles such as planes or buses. Helping to significantly reduce the spread of coronavirus the Minister learned about the variety of applications and the impact this research could have locally and globally.

To end the event, Ged Finch at X Frame, presented his framing system, which can be easily re-used and disassembled and has the potential to eliminate waste and reduce the amount of raw materials being used by the building industry. The Minister was eager to learn more about the successes of X Frame in Australia and how the system could be applied throughout New Zealand too.

With an academic career and a background in research, the Minister clearly recognises the impact of the research commercialisation sector, and the importance of turning academic and scientific endeavours into real-life application. Addressing the group, the Minister explained how strengthening research and innovation is no easy task, but that she is excited to have the opportunity to help drive impact across Aotearoa. The Minister hopes to see New Zealand as a global hub of sustainable innovation, with a productive and prosperous future ahead.

We were pleased to have the opportunity to invite some of our Emerging Innovators and entrepreneurial students at Victoria University of Wellington—Te Herenga Waka, to hear from the Minister too. Students were encouraged and inspired as the Minister explained the Government’s intentions to maintain a focus on funding innovative research.

Thanking the Minister for her time, both James Hutchinson, KiwiNet’s Chief Executive and Wellington UniVentures’ CEO, Anne Barnett, acknowledged what a privilege it is to be part of this journey, supporting scientists to grow and translate research to impact both New Zealanders and the economic growth of the country.