Wellington UniVentures’ finalists win big at 2022 KiwiNet Awards

Published Oct 7, 2022

Last night’s 2022 KiwiNet Awards saw Professor Justin Hodgkiss win the Researcher Entrepreneur Award for his leadership in deep-tech commercialisation, and nuclear resonance technology company Magritek take home the Commercialisation Impact Award. Professor Hodgkiss and Magritek are two of four finalists nominated by Wellington UniVentures for the awards which celebrate impact from science through successful research commercialisation.

Prof. Hodgkiss took home the Researcher Entrepreneur Award which recognizes an experienced entrepreneurial researcher who consistently delivers real world impact from their research.

“Prof. Hodgkiss is not only at the top of his field academically, he uses his position to foster a culture of entrepreneurship among his students and peers," says Wellington UniVentures’ CEO Dr Anne Barnett. “We have worked with Prof. Hodgkiss for many years in research commercialisation and were pleased to nominate him for this prestigious award.”

The judges described Prof. Hodgkiss as having a clear and genuine passion for all areas of commercialisation and commended his far-reaching influence on the ecosystem as Co-Director at the MacDiarmid Institute.

An example of this culture in action is Advemto, Wellington UniVentures’ latest spin-out company centered around an ultrafast spectroscopy tool that has opened the door to greater scientific insights. “Prof. Hodgkiss’ deep expertise and passion for commercialisation was instrumental in the successful launch of Advemto,” adds Anne.

Meanwhile Magritek – born out of a collaboration between Massey Ventures and Wellington UniVentures – won the Commercialisation Impact category, which celebrates a project that demonstrates excellence in research commercialisation, delivering innovation performance and impact for New Zealand.

Judges described Magritek as a “trailblazer” and said it was hard to overstate the pioneering impact the business has had on the entire sector.

“As one of our earliest spin-outs, it’s been so rewarding to see Magritek grow to become a highly successful business. Together with Massey Ventures, we nominated Magritek because it has pushed the limit of what’s possible from research commercialisation in a way that has inspired a whole generation of New Zealand entrepreneurial scientists,” says Anne.

Along with Prof. Hodgkiss and Magritek, Wellington UniVentures nominated four of the 18 finalists. “Serial entrepreneur” Associate Professor Franck Natali was commended as a finalist in the Researcher Entrepreneur category. As co-founder of Wellington UniVentures’ spin-out Liquium, Associate Prof. Natali is revolutionizing one of the world’s worst polluting processes through a new, low-carbon way to manufacture ammonia.

Wellington UniVentures’ IP Manager Stephanie Grant was a finalist in the Commercialisation Professional for her work to safeguard the research of innovators across New Zealand.

“A huge congratulations to all of our finalists and winners,” says Anne. “The KiwiNet Awards are fantastic opportunity to celebrate the heroes of research and entrepreneurship who are building a better future. Wellington UniVentures is honored to see our people so well-represented in this year’s awards.”