Scion has been selected as a finalist for the fourth annual KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards, designed to celebrate commercialisation success within New Zealand's universities and Crown Research Institutes.
The 12 finalists' clever high-tech innovations pushing the frontiers of business include, silver nanoparticles to treat and prevent dental disease, wood fibre-reinforced plastic, a method for boosting plant growth and controlling disease, laser sensors for sperm sorting, new honey and propolis based supplements, high value functional vegetables, and healing gels from natural products.
The Kiwi Innovation Network (KiwiNet) is a consortium of 15 universities, Crown Research Institutes and a Crown Entity established to boost commercial outcomes from publicly-funded research.
The Scion and Sonae partnership, that has successfully established a commercial value chain for wood fibre-reinforced plastics, is one of three finalists for the Minter Ellison Rudd Watts Research & Business Partnership Award.
Plastics with wood fibre are stronger and stiffer than plastics alone, but, until recently, handling the bulky fibre has not been commercially feasible. Scion's patented process forms wood fibre into "dice" that can be made in existing MDF plants and easily added to a range of plastics. With most opportunities for composite plastic manufacture being outside New Zealand, Scion looked for an MDF manufacturer with a global reach who could be key party in a complex and unfamiliar value chain.
European MDF manufacturer Sonae Industria was granted an exclusive licence for the technology in North America and Europe. Sonae owns and has developed the Woodforce brand. End products that meet demands for lighter weight, thermal stability and sustainability are being trialled and approved by major automotive manufacturers. The wide exposure to companies along the value chain has also led to relationships with other manufacturing industries to develop new products. "Every year the awards uncover more inspirational stories of cutting edge research powering business innovation and economic growth. The awards are a tribute to innovative researchers, working with entrepreneurial businesses and passionate Tech-Transfer professionals across New Zealand. Where others see scientific complexity, they see commercial opportunity," said general manager Dr Bram Smith.
Winners will be announced on June 30 in Auckland.