Research commercialisation support organisation Kiwi Innovation Network (KiwiNet) has appointed a new chairwoman to succeed foundation chair Ruth Richardson, under whose watch it has grown from four research partners to 16.

Independent KiwiNet board member Ngaio Merrick will take over from Richardson, who has been with the group since its formation in 2011.

Merrick is investment portfolio manager for New Zealand philanthropist Sir David Levene.

KiwiNet also announced two new board members, Dr Will Barker and Dr Anne Barnett.

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Barker, who will be an independent director, is founder and chief executive of Mint Innovation and a director of the Health Research Council. Barnett is chief executive of Viclink Ltd, Victoria University's commercialisation arm and will represent the university.

The network comprises 16 universities, Crown Research Institutes and independent research organisations representing more than 7000 researchers, working together to increase the scale and impact of scientific and technology-based innovation.

It has backed more than 950 projects and invested $38 million of PreSeed Accelerator Investment from MBIE, with business co-investing a further $20m, said Richardson.

From the 950 projects have emerged 383 commercial deals, including the formation of 39 start-ups. Its work has generated $293m total known revenue to New Zealand businesses and research organisations, she said.

KiwiNet partners include WaikatoLink, Plant & Food Research, Otago Innovation, AUT Enterprises, Callaghan Innovation, NIWA and Landcare Research.