Health & Wellbeing

Event brings together Wellington’s leaders in animal health


Published May 19, 2023

Innovations in animal health took centre stage yesterday at an event bringing together investors, government and industry with researchers from Te Herenga Waka – Victoria University of Wellington.

It was the first in BioTechNZ’s “Animal Health Innovation” networking series hosted by Wellington UniVentures and Brandon Capital at the University’s Kelburn campus.

Commercialisation Manager Sam Wojcik says, “It’s great to partner with BioTechNZ and Brandon Capital to bring this event on campus. Making spaces for our researchers to connect with people translating research into real-life impact is key to fostering an interest in entrepreneurship.”

The two-part event began with a workshop facilitated by Wellington UniVentures and Brandon Capital. Four research teams from the University shared their animal health innovation to the group.

Luke Stevenson presented research from Emily Parker's group into a new, non-toxic flea and tick treatment naturally derived from fungus. Associate Professors Mattie Timmer and Bridget Stocker also presented their work on a novel adjuvant that could make animal health vaccines more affordable and effective.

Both groups are actively working with Wellington UniVentures to launch new companies based on their innovations, so an opportunity to receive investor feedback on their pitches was invaluable, says Sam.

Brandon Capital Senior Investment Manager Duncan Mackintosh, who led the workshop, says, “For many years the pace of innovation in animal health has been relatively slow. That’s certainly no longer the case. There is a real drive for new innovative products, underpinned by great science just like the high quality, groundbreaking and robust research coming out of Victoria University.

“As animals become more and more part of our family, our expectation for the quality of healthcare we can provide them is rising, which means there is a lot of opportunity for innovation in this space. What’s particularly exciting is that many of the innovations we saw today could make a real difference to patient’s lives whether they be human or animal.”

Following the workshop, the event opened to the public, with over 50 animal health professionals, policymakers, researchers, and investors gathering to hear from an impressive group of leaders in animal health, including Mary van Andel, Chief Veterinary Officer at MPI and Jeff Howe, Technical Manager at Animal and Plant Health NZ.

BioTechNZ Executive Director Zahra Champion says, “The convergence of technology is reshaping both veterinary and human health by optimising wellness through new innovative diagnostics and therapies. There is a strong relationship between animals and humans and the 'Animal Health Curious' event series is an exciting initiative for Aotearoa as we can leverage our research capability from human healthcare and translate it into veterinary healthcare and visa-versa.”

Sam promises this event won’t be the last of its kind in Wellington.

“We’re gearing up to launch a series of events centered around strengthening connections between key players in New Zealand’s biotech sector.

“As we saw today there is no shortage of inspiring life sciences research coming out of Victoria University of Wellington, and there’s loads of enthusiastic people who can help bring that science to life – it’s our job to connect the two.”