KiwiNet Q&A: Technology transfer in New Zealand

Earlier this month, the Kiwi Innovation Network, an organisation that represents the majority of New Zealand’s academic research and innovation outputs, joined IN-PART’s matchmaking platform. To get a better understanding of technology transfer in New Zealand and KiwiNet’s outlook for collaborating with industry, we spoke with the marketing and operations team behind the network.

How does KiwiNet work?

The Kiwi Innovation Network (KiwiNet) manages the innovation outputs of 18 of universities, Crown Research Institutes, and other research organisations who receive public funding in New Zealand. Collectively we represent a total combined research expenditure of over $800 million and over 80% of the publicly-funded researchers in NZ. We are an internationally-renowned commercialisation leader, dedicated to taking a collaborative approach to transforming scientific discoveries into benefit to NZ.

At the heart of KiwiNet is a thriving ecosystem of research organisations, commercialisation units, private sector partners, and government organisations that are successfully harnessing collective wisdom and networks to transform scientific discoveries into new products and services. Our collective ambition is to bring about a globally-competitive technology sector in NZ – one that delivers significant economic growth and prosperity and grows NZ for all.

Since our inception in 2008, the Kiwi Innovation Network consortium has grown from 4 founding university members to a diverse and inclusive membership of 18 organisations.

Research organisations share innovative commercialisation ideas and approaches through the KiwiNet Investment Committee to identify and progress opportunities to combine IP from different organisations, and to exploit connections from the collective networks of the entire group.  KiwiNet enables critical peer-to-peer support, which has a major impact on lifting both professional standards and the commercial capabilities of all organisations within the consortium.

KiwiNet has been a resounding success, generating substantial returns from publicly-funded research across the ecosystem.  The $38M in pre-seed invested by KiwiNet partner organisations has delivered $293M in known revenue to NZ businesses and research organisations, including new export earnings, generating 39 start-up companies and over 300 jobs.  These numbers represent a greater than seven-fold return to NZ on the PreSeed invested!

KiwiNet has successfully led to the transformation of the New Zealand research commercialisation landscape into a world-leading collaborative model, where all those involved work together to create scale, enhance capability and leverage unique skillsets across the network.  KiwiNet has, as it has been said, ‘lifted all the boats in the harbour’ to transform new discoveries from NZ’s publicly-funded research into new products, services and companies, unlike ever before.

KiwiNet harnesses the power of 7 universities and 11 Crown Research Institutes (as shown in the map below), entities and independent research organisations, including: Plant & Food Research, Callaghan Innovation, AgResearch, Otago Innovation, Landcare Research, Lincoln University, University of Canterbury, Viclink, WaikatoLink, ESR, NIWA, Cawthron Institute, AUT Enterprises Ltd, GNS Science, Malaghan Institute, Massey Ventures, Scion and Health Innovation Hub.

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How do KiwiNet approach collaborating with R&D teams on an international basis?

The Kiwi Innovation Network is now curating our non-confidential technology and investment propositions through the world-class online platform, IN-PART, to help foster collaboration between New Zealand research institutes and companies globally.

KiwiNet facilitates the development of commercialisation networks in key target markets  with the aim of growing a globally-competitive technology sector in NZ from our publicly-funded research by:

  • Supporting the development of new technologies, including that arising from Māori knowledge, resources and people, that have relevance to key international target market
  • Building the international reputation and capability of NZ as a technology innovation powerhouse.
  • Complementing and enhancing regional economic development initiatives that have the potential for international reach
  • Adopting commercial strategies that start and build scale in NZ through local beachhead markets, commercial partners and investors, before executing in larger global markets.

Experience shows that significant spill-over benefits result when academic opportunities expand offshore, via significant export revenue and increased capability of NZ-based organisations to move our economy from high-volume to high-value.

The domestic and international relationships with investors, end-users and commercial partners held by each KiwiNet member are effectively leveraged across the consortium to generate international scale and reach for all our member organisations.

KiwiNet aims to develop networks in key target markets that bring additionality and scale to those already held by our members and ecosystem partners. We focus on the development of commercialisation networks in key target markets where:

  • There are potential market growth opportunities for NZ technology;
  • NZ Research Organisations don’t typically hold commercialisation networks;
  • There are perceived barriers to entry and complexities where a national approach and scale could make a transformative difference; and/or
  • Where there are challenges in the commercialisation pathway, unique to the target market or territory, that could be addressed with the CPN collaborative approach.
  • Scale can be achieved via ecosystem partners – e.g. Corporate Partners, Commercial Mentors, Callaghan Innovation, NZ Trade and Enterprise, Angel Association etc.

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What is it that makes New Zealand’s research output unique?

New Zealand is home to eight universities of the highest quality. All are ranked in the top 3% (500) universities in the world. New Zealand’s universities are also highly ranked by subject – within the top 50 universities in the world in 22 different subjects, and in the top 100 in 39 (out of a possible 46) subjects.

New Zealand universities have a robust and multi-layered quality assurance system, which ensures programmes, teaching and learning are of a very high standard. This results in New Zealand students enjoying some of the best graduate outcomes in the world – with high completion and employment rates, and low rates of under-employment.

The strong reputation of New Zealand universities is the key reason why 93% of our international university students chose to study in NZ. Seven of our universities are comprehensive universities, offering a broad range of subjects including arts, sciences, commerce, engineering, and health sciences. Lincoln University is a specialist land-based university.

New Zealand’s Crown Research Institutes, entities and independent research organisations play a unique and important role supporting their sectors to innovate and grow. They strive to address New Zealand’s most pressing issues and achieve economic growth by improving sectors’ productivity and improving the sustainable use of natural resources. There are 10 organisations each aligned with a productive sector of the economy or a grouping of natural resources spanning the environment, agriculture, geology, nuclear science, land, water and atmospheric research, plant and food research, wood, forestry and health.

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Written by Natalie Ward, Marketing and Events Manager, KiwiNet. 

Edited by Alex Stockham, IN-PART’s Communications Manager

Copyrights reserved unless otherwise agreed ,  IN-PART Publishing Ltd. 2019, ‘KiwiNet Q&A: Technology transfer in New Zealand’.

About IN-PART:

IN-PART is an online matchmaking platform that simplifies the initial connection between teams in academia and industry to help get breakthroughs out of the lab and onto the market.

Launched in 2014, we now work with 230+ universities and research institutes worldwide, strategically matching commercially-relevant academic research to R&D professionals from a network of 5,500+ innovation-driven companies.

The conversations that result IN-PART have led to everything from grant funding for collaborative researchco-development projects, testing new materials and proprietary compounds, to product developmentglobal licensing deals, and long-term strategic partnerships.

If you have questions about using IN-PART to connect with the global R&D community, send a message to our universities team and they’ll get back to you with the answers.

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Image attribution & credit:

Header image: KiwiNet
In-line image #1: geralt / Pixabay (CC0)
In-line image #2:  Kirsten Drew / Unsplash (CC0)


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