Environment & Engineering

New company charges up

Published Jan 18, 2021

Wellington UniVentures is incorporating a new spin-out company—TasmanIon—that could spell the beginning of the end for the world’s toxic, hard-to-recycle and environmentally-damaging lithium-ion batteries.

Spun-out from Victoria University of Wellington research into sustainable aluminium-ion batteries, the company is focused on developing a product that can fully realise the market potential of the intellectual property (IP) that Wellington UniVentures has helped the inventors—Dr Shalini Divya and Professor Thomas Nann—to protect.

Dr Ashwath Sundaresan, the Wellington UniVentures Senior Commercialisation Manager (and now TasmanIon’s founding CEO) who has driven the project through to investor-ready stage, says they have worked alongside the duo—both from the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences—in a myriad of ways.

“In addition to patenting the IP, we’ve also helped them to validate the market opportunity, attract funding to develop a prototype, and completing a first capital raise.”

Dr Anne Barnett, Wellington UniVentures’ CEO, says she is delighted to see the results of two years of hard work from everyone involved come to fruition.

“Commercialising novel battery technologies is extremely challenging, so it’s particularly pleasing to see TasmanIon spin-out as a new company.”

Wellington UniVentures is a shareholder in TasmanIon—alongside co-founders Shalini and Thomas (her former PhD supervisor)—while Hamish Findlay, Wellington UniVentures’ General Manager, will also initially sit on the Board to ensure continuity as the company grows.

Ashwath says that thanks must go to KiwiNet for also helping the inventors get to spin-out stage, providing not only development funding, but also a place for Shalini on its Emerging Innovator Programme—an initiative designed to inspire and nurture early-stage career scientists towards commercial success.

“Once again, KiwiNet has played a vital role in building the capability and traction needed to get our research out into the market where it can have the most impact—all while building revenue streams for, and adding value to, the University and its people.”

And, he says, one of those people is most definitely Shalini. “She has literally created a career out of her PhD research, which is pretty inspiring stuff.”