University has three finalists in 2019 KiwiNet Awards

Victoria University of Wellington has three finalists in this year’s KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards, including two from the Faculty of Science.

Drs Brendan Darby and Shaleen Kumar, Kiwinet finaliists

These awards are designed to celebrate impact from science through successful research commercialisation within New Zealand universities, Crown Research Institutes, and other research organisations. They are run by the KiwiNet Innovation Network, a consortium of universities, research institutes, and other research organisations established to boost commercial outcomes from publicly funded research.

The finalist from Victoria University of Wellington are Dr Brendan Darby, Dr Shalen Kumar, and Geoff Todd.

Dr Darby, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the School of Chemical and Physical Sciences and CEO of start-up Marama Labs, and Dr Shalen Kumar, Postdoctoral Researcher in the School of Biological Sciences and CEO of AuramerBio, are finalists in the Norman Barry Foundation Breakthrough Innovator Award. This award recognises an upcoming entrepreneurial researcher who is contributing to or creating innovative business opportunities in New Zealand through technology licensing, start-up creation, or providing expertise to support business innovation.

Dr Darby’s start-up Marama Labs has developed technology that provides insight into the analysis of cloudy liquids, something that has historically been very difficult, as well as simplifying laboratory operations by eliminating costly sample preparation steps. This technology is already being used in the wine industry and could also be used in other parts of the food and beverage industries.

Dr Kumar and AuramerBio are developing synthetic bio-receptors to enable accurate, affordable, and mobile diagnostic solutions, particularly focusing on fertility testing and testing for illicit substances.  Dr Kumar has been working in this area since starting his undergraduate studies at Victoria University of Wellington.

Geoff Todd, consultant and former Managing Director at Viclink—Victoria University of Wellington’s commercialisation arm—is a finalist in a new category, MinterEllisonRuddWatts Commercialisation Professional. Mr Todd is a finalist for his extensive work in shaping the way scientific research is commercialised in New Zealand, including his leadership of Viclink and support of several scientific start-ups in New Zealand.

“New scientific discoveries have the potential to transform lives and change the world,” says KiwiNet CEO James Hutchinson.

“KiwiNet’s excited to showcase the amazing work that goes into getting these discoveries ‘business ready’. With the high-tech sector looking to soon surpass dairy in its contribution to New Zealand’s export economy, we’re excited to celebrate the achievements of people and teams who are creating prosperity for us all.”