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$38m later and KiwiNet is still going strong with new appointments

07 Sep 2018

After already investing $38 million into new ideas and innovations in New Zealand, the Kiwi Innovation Network (KiwiNet) is showing no signs of slowing down.

KiwiNet has announced the appointment of Ngaio Merrick as the new chairman and Dr Will Barker and Dr Anne Barnett as two new board members.

Former foundation chairman Hon Ruth Richardson is handing the reigns over to Merrick to carry on KiwiNet’s goal to boost research commercialisation success across the country.

Richardson says KiwiNet has been ‘instrumental’ in developing a prosperous culture of researchers willing and able to present their discoveries to the rest of the world.

“I'm incredibly proud to have been involved in KiwiNet from its formation in 2011 – with four partner organisations – to now partnering with the majority of publicly funded research organisations in New Zealand and representing over 7000 researchers,” says Richardson.

“The KiwiNet team is totally dedicated to building commercialisation capability across New Zealand and is very ably led by CEO James Hutchinson.”

As Richardson alluded to, KiwiNet has certainly grown since its establishment and now comprises 16 universities and Crown Research Institutes and independent research organisations, all in collaboration to the increase the scale and impact of technology and scientific-based innovation in New Zealand.

“KiwiNet has backed over 950 projects involving hundreds of researchers from KiwiNet PreSeed pooling partners,” Richardson says.

“From these projects we’ve already seen 383 commercial deals across 167 projects, including 39 start-up companies formed.  This has generated $293 million total known revenue to New Zealand businesses and research organisations.”

New chairman Merrick says there is acres of talent and opportunity to tap in New Zealand, all of which can drive a ‘diverse and prosperous economy’.

“I’m incredibly excited to build on KiwiNet’s solid foundation and successes to date, to scale further –we’re hugely ambitious to realise the enormous opportunity before us to deliver significant returns to New Zealand,” says Merrick.

“With additional support KiwiNet will be able to touch an even greater percentage of researchers in our existing partnerships to amplify the number of licensing deals and spinouts.  We will also continue to build our engagement with the private sector to form a community of capable, driven professionals delivering investible propositions from publicly funded research.”

Dr Barker, the founder and CEO of Mint Innovation in addition to being a director of the Health Research Council of New Zealand, has also been appointed as an independent director with KiwiNet.

Dr Barnett, CEO of Viclink, replaces former Viclink CEO Geoff Tod as the KiwiNet board university representative.

The new KiwiNet board members will join the current board which includes Plant & Food Research CEO David Hughes and investor and advisor Andrew Turnbull.

KiwiNet partner organisations include WaikatoLink, Plant & Food Research, Otago Innovation Ltd, Lincoln University, AUT Enterprises, AgResearch, University of Canterbury, Callaghan Innovation, Viclink, Landcare Research, Cawthron Institute, ESR, NIWA, Scion, Malaghan Institute, and GNS Science.  Principal support is provided by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE).

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