Tech Jumpstart winners propose bold commercial innovations

17 October 2017

In its eighth year, Tech Jumpstart gives University of Canterbury researchers the opportunity to transform their ideas and research into commercial reality.

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    Astrolab CEO Brett Oliver (left) presented the Tech Jumpstart's Astrolab prize to Dr Deborah Crittenden, with Associate Professor Sally Gaw (not pictured), for an innovative laser detection tool to measure nitrates in waterways and soils.

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The WNT Ventures prize, presented by WNT Ventures' Investment Manager Jon Sandbrook (left), went to Associate Professor David Leung for his botanic environmental management system for protecting plants from pests, infection and bad weather.

An innovative system protecting plants against pests and adverse weather, and a pioneering technique for assessing damage  ̶  such as that caused by earthquakes  ̶  to steel rebars on built structures, are just two of five winners in this year’s University of Canterbury (UC) Tech Jumpstart competition.

In its eighth year, Tech Jumpstart gives UC researchers a chance to transform their ideas and research into a commercial reality.

Five prizes of $20,000 were awarded with funding from KiwiNet. Additionally, technology incubators WNT Ventures and Astrolab will provide $35,000 each worth of practical services to the top two projects which showed the most commercial promise.

Services from the technology incubators put the winning ideas through rigorous processes including financial analysis, strategic planning, market validation and capital raising with an eye on forming a start-up business to commercialise the project.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor |Tumu Tuarua Ian Wright said the research, innovation and commercialisation efforts demonstrate UC is an innovative institution producing ideas that potentially hold strong commercial appeal in New Zealand and abroad.

“The Tech Jumpstart competition takes innovative research ideas to an exciting new level of exploring commercial opportunity. The commercial potential of these ideas makes UC more attractive to investor groups, furthers intellectual capability and gains more leverage with government, private research and consulting opportunities.”

WNT Ventures prize:

Botanic environmental management system

Associate Professor David Leung

A novel system for protecting plants from pests, infection and adverse weather. The biodegradable system is designed to give protection during critical stages of the plant lifecycle. It has the potential to protect much of New Zealand’s horticultural exports, including kiwifruit, apples, citrus and grapes.

Astrolab prize:

Laser detection of nitrates in waterways and soils

Dr Deborah Crittenden and Associate Professor Sally Gaw

An innovative laser detection tool with the ability to measure nitrates in the field using both soil and water samples. It promises to be portable and cost-effective with a low-environmental impact and the capability of selecting only nitrates from the sample, avoiding other deposits or substances with similar structures. With the introduction of new legislative caps on nitrogen discharge, a portable nitrate measuring tool would enable farmers to conveniently measure nitrate levels on the farm, helping them to keep discharges within the new limits.

Other winners:

High-performance printed heat exchangers

Professor Conan Fee and Dr Tim Huber

An original class of heat exchangers that could be a game changer in design and efficiency. Using 3D printing technology, this project offers new possibilities in fields including motorsport, air conditioners or laptop processors where cooling can take place faster in radical new shapes while providing increasingly important reductions in weight.

In-situ damage detection

Giuseppe Loporcaro and Professor Milo Kral

A pioneering technique for assessing damage (for example, after earthquakes) to steel rebars on built structures (such as buildings or bridges) on site, rather than existing, more time-consuming methods. Key advantages of the method include reliable results and the ability to perform tests on site rather than in the lab.

Miniature electrochemical sensing elements for detection of nitrate

Dr Vladimir Golovko and Dr Aaron Marshall

A novel electrochemical sensing system for nitrates. Along the lines of a digital thermometer, the electrode has the advantages of long life and durability, plus the ability to send information via a networked monitoring system. This would provide regional councils with a real-time view of nitrates in waterways across their catchment areas, enabling them to enforce the new legislative caps on nitrogen discharge.

For further information please contact:

Margaret Agnew, Senior External Relations Advisor, University of Canterbury
Phone: +64 3 369 3631 | Mobile: +64 275 030 168margaret.agnew@canterbury.ac.nz
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