Paengaroa-based honey and health products company Comvita and the Institute for Innovation in Biotechnology at the University of Auckland have won top honours.
The KiwiNet Minter Ellison Rudd Watts Research and Business Partnership Award was given for their exemplary partnership in promoting collaboration between academics and industry, while providing career opportunities to students and research graduates.
The partnership accelerated innovation by promoting research projects and producing commercially relevant outcomes, judges said. "The 2015 awards have uncovered more exciting stories of kiwi scientists powering disruptive business innovation," said Dr Bram Smith, general manager of the Kiwi Innovation Network.
KiwiNet is made up of universities and crown research institutes and agencies working together to increase scientific and technology-based innovation.
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"These people are quietly revolutionising the New Zealand innovation landscape," said Dr Smith. The Comvita team is co-located at the Auckland University institute and has been working on various research projects with the different departments at the university for the past five years. The close working relationship between the business and academia encouraged the researchers and students to be interested in Comvita's business needs and committed to make discoveries that had strong business relevance.
The 2015 awards have uncovered more exciting stories of kiwi scientists powering disruptive business innovation.
Another Bay of Plenty-based partnership, The Biopolymer Network (BPN), which includes Rotorua-based forest research institute Scion, Plant & Food Research and AgResearch, won the Commercialisation Collaboration Award. Through a partnership with Barnes Plastics, BPN is developing a cost-effective, environmentally friendly process to make ZealaFoam, a bioplastic foam alternative to polystyrene from sustainable, renewable resources.
The KiwiNet judging panel includes director and executive advisor Helen Robinson, the founding chief executive of TZ1, Rob Heebink, R&D executive at Gallagher Group, and professional director Dr Ray Thomson.