Congratulations to our Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of ÐÓ°ÉAPP2023 KiwiNet Finalists.ÌýOur three finalists are: Dr Olivia Ogilvie for the Sprout Breakthrough Innovator Award; Dr Laura DomiganÌýfor the BNZ Researcher Entrepreneur Award, and Dr Nandoun Abeysekera for the PwC Breakthrough Project Award.
Congratulations to our Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of ÐÓ°ÉAPP2023 KiwiNet Finalists.
Our three finalists are: Dr Olivia Ogilvie for the Sprout Breakthrough Innovator Award; Dr Laura DomiganÌýfor the BNZ Researcher Entrepreneur Award, and Dr Nandoun Abeysekera for the PwC Breakthrough Project Award.
The 11th annual celebrates 18 impressive finalists bringing transformative new technologies to the world by commercialising scientific discoveries within New Zealandâ€™s universities, Crown Research Institutes and other research organisations.
The KiwiNet Awards winners for 2023 will be announced at an evening reception on 28 September at Shed 10 in Auckland.
Sprout Breakthrough Innovator Award
Dr Olivia Ogilvie â€“ Opo Bio / Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of Auckland: Cultivating meat for the next generation Ìý
Dr Olivia Ogilvie is a pioneer in the cultivated meat field, where meat is produced by culturing animal cells in vitro. Olivia is the co-founder and CEO of Opo Bio, New Zealand's first cultivated meat company, which supplies cells from Aotearoa New Zealand, for the cultivated meat industry worldwide. She has played an instrumental role in developing and commercialising their cell line development technology platform that enables large-scale cell culture production.
BNZ Researcher Entrepreneur Award
Dr Laura DomiganÌý- Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of Auckland: Leading New Zealand to the frontier of future foods.
Dr Laura Domigan is a Senior Lecturer, Chemical and Materials Engineering at the University of Auckland, and Chief Scientific Officer of Opo Bio, New Zealand's first cultivated meat company, which supplies cells from Aotearoa New Zealand, for the cultivated meat industry worldwide.
As a protein biochemist, tissue engineer, and co-founder of Opo Bio, Laura has become a recognised international leader in cultivated meat, while navigating complex and challenging commercialisation opportunities key to New Zealandâ€™s future prosperity. Her ground-breaking work in cultivated meat tackles some of the planet's major social and environmental challenges, such as greenhouse gas emissions, ethical food choices, animal welfare and food security. It is an emerging sector with the potential to transform the global food industry.
UniServices has assisted Opo Bio in many ways including facilitating the formation of a spinout from the University of ÐÓ°ÉAPPin 2022 and assigned the required IP, developed at the University of Auckland, into the spinout company; jointly conducted the investment due diligence on the spinout opportunity with the lead investor (MatÅ«) in their first capital raise and commissioned and paid for a significant market research report from external consultants that was used to inform due diligence on the initial investment and was provided to the Opo Bio founders to help inform their plans.
PwC Breakthrough Project Award
Avasa â€“ Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of Auckland: Transforming reconstructive microsurgery.
Avasa is a medtech startup with the mission to simplify microsurgery. Currently, plastic surgeons must painstakingly hand sew microvascular arteries and veins in reconstructive operations which is risky and time consuming. Hand sewing an artery can take 40-60 minutes, and failure rates are reported at 5%.
Having personally experienced this problem, biomedical engineer and former plastic surgery resident Dr Nandoun Abeysekera developed Avasa, a revolutionary microvascular coupling device to aid the connection of both arteries and veins in reconstructive microsurgery. Surgeons can perform safe and reliable vascular connections with unparalleled speed and precision using the proprietary device which standardises vascular eversion.
Backed by ÐÓ°ÉAPPUniServices, Avasa Ltd was created in 2018, and is now based in the ÐÓ°ÉAPPBioengineering Instituteâ€™s incubator space. In 2022 the company raised funds in a seed round led by Bridgewest Ventures and has enlisted a team of engineers and advisors to advance product development for manufacturability. It aims to gain regulatory approval and launch to market in 2025.
About the Kiwi Innovation Network (KiwiNet)Ìý
KiwiNet is the combined power of 19 of New Zealandâ€™s universities, Crown Research Institutes, and other research organisations, working together to transform early-stage discoveries into products and services that will have social, environmental, cultural, and economic impact for NZ.
Through PreSeed Accelerator funding from MBIE, training programs, support, and industry connections, KiwiNet helps commercialisation teams and entrepreneurial scientists take their discoveries from the lab to the world. To date, KiwiNet organisations have invested $60.7 in PreSeed Accelerator Funding with 82 start-up companies established, and 704 employment opportunities generated or sustained in NZ. Our PreSeed projects since 2003 have created over $558m in known revenue to NZ.Ìý
For more information, see