University research commercialisation: paying dividends for New ...
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University research commercialisation: paying dividends for New ...

University researchcommercialisationPaying dividends for New Zealand1

Market Capitalisation of University Start-up companies12001000$ million80060040020002003 2004 2005 2006Year $m2003 762004 1592005 4312006 11002

University researchcommercialisation:Paying dividends for New ZealandThe year 2008 marks the 20th anniversaryof the establishment of New Zealand’s firstuniversity commercialisation company, theUniversity of Auckland’s UniServices. In theintervening 20 years the other seven universitieshave all established commercialisation entitiesto capitalise on the fast-growing researchoutputs of the universities. Today their combinedactivities have grown to a business worth $350million a year.In 2005 the eight universities set upUCONZ – University Commercialisation Officesof New Zealand – to bring together thecommercialisation offices of all the country’suniversities and to establish closer links withgovernment and commercial research partners.A leading accounting firm has recently collatedsurvey responses from UCONZ membersregarding their commercialisation activities.This revealed a total income in the four years2003–2006 of $1.2 billion dollars, with incomenow at $350 million a year. The study yieldedother notable findings.Between 2003 and 2006, 736 new inventiondisclosures were received by universitycommercialisation offices, 303 new patentswere applied for and 97 patents were granted,and 156 licences were issued.Revenues from technology licensing haveincreased from just under $4 million in 2003,with 97 active licenses, to over $10 million in2006, with 210 active licences, generating atotal of $29 million.Total technology sales paid for in equityby licensee companies in the same periodproduced a further $32 million of revenue.Revenue from contract research carried out atuniversities has increased from $201 millionin 2003 to $275 million in 2006, or nearly abillion dollars over four years.Consultancy activities over the sameperiod have brought in a further $65 millionof revenue.Between 2003 and 2006, over $155 millionof capital has been raised for start-ups.In the same period, 29 new start-ups wereformed, bringing the number operating as of2006 to 44.The number of full-time staff employed bythese start-ups has grown from 198 to 363.An earlier study showed that per dollarinvested, New Zealand universities producedmore than twice as many new companiesthan the United States average, and morethan 50 percent more than Canada. Inaddition, New Zealand universities producedpatent applications at a rate on a par with USperformance, and 30 percent more efficientlythan Canada.The commercialisation activities carried out bythe universities are wide-ranging. This brochuredetails some of the exciting opportunities beingpursued by UCONZ members. Information onhow the universities can help business can beobtained from any of the universities whosecontact details are listed on page 11.3

Power without wiresA new process developed by University ofAuckland researchers has produced a safe,clean, reliable way of transmitting an electriccurrent without the need for wires.Researchers in the Power Electronics Group atthe University of Auckland have developed a newprocess of transferring electrical power withoutphysical contact. The low-maintenance systemallows electric motors and lights to be poweredand batteries to be charged very safely.While Inductive Power Transfer (IPT) is not initself a new technology, having been around formore than 100 years, a way of powering severalelectrical loads on a single track had neverbeen found. Building on research undertaken atthe university in the late 1970s, a team led byProfessor John Boys and Dr Andrew Green madethe vital breakthrough in the early 1990s.The first prototype was a self-propelled trolleydriven by an electric motor. This system was thestart of a successful research and commercialprogramme that now includes six licenseesin New Zealand and overseas. Royalties fromoverseas licensees of millions of dollars peryear have effectively funded the growth of localresearch, and provided the basis for local start-upsusing new applications of the same technology.The IPT system uses magnetic fields to transferpower from transmitter to receiver instead ofcables or brushes. There are no rubbing parts towear out or connecting cables to break.The system has many advantages:• Immunity to dirt, dust, water, ice and chemicals• Minimal cabling and risk of cable breakage• Low maintenance and quiet, safe performance• Adaptability to low and high-speed applications• Multi-functionality, handling both power anddata transfer.Shopping trolleys recharging via coils embeddedin a power mat.Both the transmitter and the receiver can besealed from all external influences, so thesystem can be partially buried or submerged.The elimination of cable connections betweentrack and pickup means that broken exposed4

MitoQ /AntipodeanPharmaceuticals IncEstablished with platformwires are a thing of the past. The highfrequency used (10kHz to 40kHz) will not causeelectrocution in the unlikely event of contact withan exposed live wire or terminal.Applications include motor drives for belt systemsfor use in clean rooms and automotive assemblyplants, automated guided vehicles, batterychargingsystems for buses, and pedestrian andvehicle guidance lighting systems. Power rangesvary from a few watts to many kilowatts. Now75 percent of the world’s integrated circuits andmost of the world’s flat screen monitors dependupon this technology.In New Zealand one licensee uses IPT-poweredroad studs glued to the road to provide a highlyvisible light path. New developments will allowthe colour of the lit studs to be changed remotelyto signal lane changes or hazards.Other recent developments have included moreefficient pickups, wide bandwidth digital signaltransmission, and a battery charging systemsuitable for cars and light commercial vehicles.This latest development will allow electricvehicles to be charged automatically withoutbeing plugged in.With increasing interest in electric vehicles, hybridand full electric, UniServices’ current priority is IPTbattery charging. This builds on the work donewith Wampfler and a more recent licensee, CabcoLtd, who use IPT charging for entertainmentsystems for their KidKart supermarket developed at theUniversity of Otago by ProfessorRobin Smith and former colleagueDr Michael Murphy, AntipodeanPharmaceuticals Inc has taken a newdrug, MitoQ, into Phase II clinicaltrials in New Zealand, targetinga key mechanism underlyingParkinson’s disease. In 2005 thecompany, in which Otago Innovationis a shareholder, raised US$15million for further research andUS Food and Drug Administrationtrials. Phase III trials will targetthe product’s use in combatinghepatic disease, and potentialdermatological applications.A low-cost battery charging system, comprisinga domestic-size power supply and matchingunder-car pickup, is being developed anddiscussions are being held with several carmanufacturers.5

Making Lab Testing EasyKhipu SystemsQuick and accurate laboratory testingthat will help farmers improve pastureyield and efficiency.Laboratory testing is easier as a result of theapplication of the innovative software producedby Khipu Systems, a joint venture betweenthe University of Waikato’s WaikatoLink andHamilton-based Hill Laboratories. The uniquesoftware modelling system draws on theexpertise of the machine learning team atthe University of Waikato, and Hill’s industryexpertise. The software radically speeds upand improves the accuracy of soil and plantsampling, and allows laboratories to produceresults quickly and accurately for large numbersof test samples. One of its many uses is to helpfarmers to better calculate fertiliser needs byaccurately establishing the nitrogen and carboncontent of soil.The software reduces the time taken forsoil sampling from several days to a matterof minutes, by scanning samples using nearinfraredspectroscopy to produce “spectralsignatures”, replacing time-consuminglaboratory chemical analysis. The softwarecombines the “signatures” with knownreference values to create sophisticatedmathematical calibration models, whichcan be used to predict the samples’composition with great accuracy.The software tools fully automate dataacquisition, integration, and pre-processing,and the generation and optimisation ofmathematical models.The software has been in routine use atHill Laboratories in Hamilton for three yearsand has been sold to Europe’s largest soiland plant testing laboratory, Blgg of theNetherlands. Other leading internationalcompanies are evaluating the productportfolio. After these early successes Khipuis advancing rapidly along the developmentand commercialization curve.This software has potential for applicationto manufacturing and process control inmany industries, from oil refining to feedmanufacture. The original research team atWaikato has secured further funding to developmachine learning software based on gaschromatography.Khipu Systems illustrates how researchcommercialisation from universities can bedriven by working with industry. Khipu’ssuccess follows that of other WaikatoLinkhi-tech spin-outs, such as rapidly growingbiotechnology company ZyGEM, which haslaunched its DNA extraction products on theinternational market.6

MagritekHi-tech solutions for hi-tech industriesMany New Zealanders will be familiar with thework of the MacDiarmid Institute for AdvancedMaterials and Nanotechnology based at VictoriaUniversity of Wellington. Magritek was set up in2004 by the institute’s then director, ProfessorPaul Callaghan, and other top research scientistsfrom Massey University and Victoria, to convertsome of the ideas produced by the institute intocommercial realities.Magritek is involved in the design andconstruction of innovative Nuclear MagneticResonance (NMR) and Magnetic ResonanceImaging (MRI) systems, with a focus onindustrial applications outside the researchlaboratory. Combining the latest advancesin NMR techniques, compact high-speedelectronics, and powerful software, Magritekprovides robust, compact high performanceNMR and MRI systems suited to use indemanding industrial environments.NMR is a powerful sensing technology, withapplication in chemistry, biology, medicine,and more recently industrial process control.The devices have been used for environmentalresearch in Antarctica, non-invasive humiditymeasurements, and determining the molecularstructure and dynamics of polymers and foodon a molecular level. In addition, these deviceshave been integrated with cutting-edge handheldNMR technology. The latest Magritekproducts can be powered by batteries, andthey generate the necessary magnetic fieldsusing either permanent magnets or Earth’smagnetic field. A new potential application ofthese devices is non-invasive automated qualitycontrol in production lines.NMR/MRI is one of the most successfultechnologies to emerge in the 20th century.In the field of medicine the use of MRI hasgrown explosively in the last 20 years and anMRI Scanner is now an essential element of anymodern medical facility. Magritek believes thatwhile the industrial market has been slow todevelop, it nevertheless has enormous potential.Magritek sells a range of NMR/MRI systemsranging from a complete earth’s field NMR/MRIteaching system to completely portable batterypowered NMR spectrometers.Anzode IncThis silver-zinc battery lasts four timeslonger than existing products. Spun out fromresearch by Dr Simon Hall and Dr Michael Liuat Massey University, Anzode Inc is attractingstrong interest from the US Government, amajor US consumer electronics firm, and theworld’s largest manufacturer of electroniccomponents for cell phones and laptops.7

Whisper Tech LimitedCutting household costs through efficientenergy generationChristchurch-based Whisper Tech Limited isthe owner and developer of the WhisperGenmicroCHP system. MicroCHP stands for CombinedHeat and Power and the WhisperGen, is asmall domestic appliance which simultaneouslygenerates heat and electricity.In 1989 Don Clucas embarked on a PhD basedaround the development of a commerciallyviable Stirling engine at the Engineering Schoolof Canterbury University. In 1994 when hisstudies were completed Dr Clucas and theuniversity transferred all of their interests inThe WhisperGen blends perfectly into the householdenvironment.the technology to Whisper Tech Limited which,with external funding, continued work on theprototype, developing a commercial productsuitable for mass manufacture.The WhisperGen is a highly efficient energygenerator which offers the user cost savingsand the potential for significant carbon gasreductions. It is used in homes in Europe,where it replaces a domestic boiler. Fired bynatural gas, it produces all of the hot waterthat the home’s boiler would normally makefor heating and domestic hot water, and atthe same time generates electricity which caneither be used in the home or sold back tothe electricity grid. Its life, service, and noiselevels are similar to a boiler, and its highlyefficient use of fuel will reduce a typicalhomeowner’s energy costs by 20–30 percent.WhisperGen’s efficiency offers significantcarbon reductions compared with the centralgeneration of electricity; in a typical Britishhome it can reduce CO 2emissions by about atonne per annum.Whisper Tech has this year entered intoa joint venture with a major Europeanindustrial and manufacturing conglomerate;this will be the vehicle for the manufactureand distribution of the WhisperGen systemthroughout Europe. It expects to commencemanufacturing in Spain in late 2008. Marketinterest in the product is significant, and theproduction of more than 200,000 units overthe next five years is planned.8

Eco-n NitrificationInhibitor TechnologyHelping New Zealand stay clean and greenEco-n treated paddocks on the Lincoln University Dairy Farm. The equipment in the foregroundmeasures the effects of eco-n in reducing nitrate leaching losses from the soil.Eco-n is a product that reduces theenvironmental impacts of dairy farming andincreases farms’ productivity and sustainability.The technology was developed by LincolnUniversity and Ravensdown Fertiliser CooperativeLtd. It was launched in 2004, and in2008 sales will approach $10 million.The invention originated in a research programmefunded by the Foundation for Research, Scienceand Technology and conducted at LincolnUniversity. It was discovered that treating soilwith a nitrification inhibitor could reduce nitrateleaching losses from pastoral agriculture by upto 60 percent, reduce nitrous oxide emissionsby up to 70 percent, and increase pastureproduction by up to 15 percent. Ravensdown hasco-invested heavily in the science as well as thecommercialisation of eco-n.Nitrate leaching from agriculture reduces waterquality, and nitrous oxide emissions fromagricultural land account for about 17 percentof New Zealand’s greenhouse gas inventoryand about 33 percent of its agriculturalgreenhouse gas emissions. Reductions in nitrateleaching are also needed to reduce pollution ofgroundwater, rivers and lakes. The developmentof eco-n is an important contribution to thecontinuing efforts to preserve the environment.Current research indicates that if most ofNew Zealand’s dairy farmers used eco-nnitrification inhibitor technology then emissionsof nitrous oxide from dairy farming could bereduced almost to the 1990 levels requiredunder the Kyoto Protocol.9

KODE Biotech LimitedDeveloped by Professor Steve Henry ofthe Auckland University of Technology,KODE constructs have a large rangeof potential diagnostic and therapeuticapplications, including diagnosticcontrols, immune modulation, antigenenhancing/masking, diagnostic analyticalsystems, cell labelling and imaging,vaccine and drug delivery, cell cultureimprovement, immune therapy andfertility enhancement. KODE representsan advance in the control of membranesurface characteristics.Embryo labelled with a KODE TM constructA commercial example of KODEtechnology is CSL Securacell, a product formaking blood supply and blood transfusionprocesses safer. Launched to the Australianmarket, Securacell represents the firstmulti-purpose quality control system forimmunohaematology laboratories. Similarproducts are about to be released in the EUand the US, pending regulatory approval.Professor Henry founded KODE BiotechLimited in 1996 to develop innovativetechnologies based on the KODEplatform and is also the Director of AUT’sBiotechnology Research Institute. Unlike theother enterprises described in this brochure,KODE is not a “spin-out” but a “spin-in”,having started as a stand-alone companybefore partnering with AUT. KODE Biotechand AUT’s Biotechnology Research Instituteshare expertise, equipment, facilitiesand staff. In this mutually beneficialrelationship, AUT offers KODE Biotechinfrastructure support while the university’sPhD students have the opportunity toapply their academic skills in a commercialenvironment.While KODE Biotech retains ownershipof the intellectual property generated inthe company, a contractual relationshipwith AUT allows the benefits ofcommercialisation to be shared. KODEtechnology is now going global and isbeing licensed to market leaders, spin-outventures and major academic institutions/organisations.10

These are just a few examples of the way UCONZ helps transformthe research flowing from the eight New Zealand universities intocommercial reality. Many are still at the developmental stage, butall have the potential to make a major contribution to New Zealand’seconomic transformation. For details of the ways university commercialentities can assist, please contact the nearest UCONZ office.ContactsUCONZ MEMBERSDr Peter LeeCEOAuckland UniServices LtdPrivate Bag 92019Auckland Mail CentreAuckland 1142(09) 373 7522Mr Kevin PryorCEOAUT Enterprises LtdPrivate Bag 12397PenroseAuckland 1061(09) 921 9845Mr Mark StuartCEOWaikatoLink LtdPrivate Bag 3105Waikato Mail CentreHamilton 3240(07) 858 5172Mr Kevin ArgyleActing CEOMassey Ventures LtdPrivate Bag 11222Palmerston North 4442(06) 356 9099Mr John ErringtonCEOVictoria Link LtdPO Box 1762Wellington 6140(04) 463 5135Mr Raiyo NarimanCEOCanterprise LtdPrivate Bag 4800Christchurch 8140(03) 364 2416Dr Peter JohnDirectorResearch andCommercialisationLincoln UniversityPO Box 94Lincoln 7647(03) 325 3866Mr Colin DawsonCEOOtago Innovation LtdPO Box 56Dunedin 9054(03) 479 3870NZVCCMr Jonathan HughesPrincpal AdvisorNew Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ CommitteePO Box 11915Wellington 6142(04) 381 850411

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