Entrepreneurship in higher education is recognised as a major driver of innovation, enabling academics and students to connect research with business, and help solve the myriad of pressing problems faced by the world today.
Wellington UniVentures plays an important role in facilitating, nurturing and supporting the development of Victoria University of Wellington’s future entrepreneurs, and has had great success transitioning researchers into the world of business—where they can have positive impact—as a result.
“It’s the individuals who can think, behave and act in an entrepreneurial manner that drive innovation—and ground-breaking innovation helps drive stronger economies,” says Emily Sullivan, Wellington UniVentures’ Entrepreneurship Manager. “So it makes sense for us to provide entrepreneurship support that is people-focused—rather than just project-focused. We want to ensure that today’s students and academics are well-equipped to become tomorrow’s entrepreneurs.”
Entrepreneurship Success Stories: Marama Labs
One former PhD student to make the successful move from scientist to entrepreneur is Dr Brendan Darby, who co-founded spinout MaramaLabs with his colleague Dr Matthias Meyer and former PhD supervisor Professor Eric Le Ru in 2019. Their first product—CloudSpec—is a next generation spectroscopy instrument that enables cloudy or opaque liquids to be analysed more quickly and accurately than traditional methods.
“These days, it’s all about executing a viable business and focusing on our customers rather than the technology itself,” he says. “We’re in a good position to do that primarily because Wellington UniVentures gave us the time to get our tech right—we had 12 months under their wing which eased our transition from research discovery to fully-fledged business.”Read more
The second Victoria University of Wellington project involves the development of a novel, ultrafast spectroscopy tool that enables scientists to integrate multiple spectroscopy experiments into just one. Peter Lai, Senior Commercialisation Manager says it will reduce the time it takes to conduct testing (and analyse the resulting data) from months down to just days—while opening up the ability for greater scientific insights. “We’re currently working to lock-down a distribution agreement in China that will allow us to supply componentry from, and retain expertise in, New Zealand.” Read more.