A shared vision for Wellington’s deep tech economy

Published Sep 1, 2023

Wellington UniVentures hosted Wellington City Council Mayor Tory Whanau and WellingtonNZ CEO, John Allen, at Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington’s Kelburn campus to discuss a shared vision to grow the capital’s deep tech economy.

The visit kicked off with a lively conversation led by Wellington UniVentures' CEO Pierre Malou about the role that technology transfer offices play in helping researchers spin-out out new businesses that contribute to a thriving innovation sector.

“As the capital city university, Te Herenga Waka is essential to realising the Government’s vision of ‘Wellington Science City’. Our role is to help get research out of the university and into the world as new businesses or products,” says Pierre.

The Wellington UniVentures team shared examples of exciting commercialisation projects coming out of Te Herenga Waka which are at various stages along the innovation pathway, from IP protection to spin-out.

Demonstrating the value of Wellington UniVentures’ support for early career entrepreneurs was Dr Lee Ann Tejada. Lee discussed her ambitions to build a new company in Wellington based on her PhD research that will provide meaningful career opportunities for scientists like her.

The group then set off on a tour of local companies that have already spun out of Te Herenga Waka research with Wellington UniVentures’ support.

The tour began with a visit to Advemto. The new scientific instrument company is helping scientists discover natures’ secrets at a scale and speed previously not possible, enabling the development of new types of solar cells, LEDs, biological labels and photonic devices. Founding Scientist Dr Kai Chen and Product Engineer Dr Douglas Bock spoke to Advemto’s plans to grow its Wellington-based operations as they grow their international client base.

Mayor Whanau and Mr Allen then visited Liquium, a start-up working to revolutionise the production of ammonia, one of the world’s most commonly used chemicals essential to industries like shipping and farming. CTO & Founder Associate Professor Franck Natali explained how Liquium’s novel process for synthesising ammonia sustainably could supply the world with a green source of energy, developed right here in Wellington.

The tour rounded off with a visit to Inhibit Coatings, where CEO & co-Founder Dr Eldon Tate discussed how his team has developed a novel antimicrobial coating that kills over 650 microorganisms, including E.Coli and coronavirus. From food processing to healthcare, the company’s homegrown technology is rapidly spreading to industries around the world.

At the end of the whirlwind tour, Mayor Whanau reflected that the "gobsmaking innovations" provide an incredible insight into some of the amazing science being done right here in Wellington. 

Thanking the Mayor and Mr Allen for their time, Pierre reiterated that global success starts locally.

“As we saw today, our spin-outs shine on the world stage, but they are proudly Wellingtonian. From attracting high skills talent to inspiring a new generation of innovators, they contribute so much to our city. So it’s fantastic to see such strong interest from local government into how we can work together to continue to grow our city’s innovation sector.”


Mayor Tory Whanau, WellingtonNZ CEO John Allen and Wellington UniVentures Acting CEO Pierre Malou