Award-winning, life-saving ideas to beat antibiotic resistance, create near-zero waste, and test for pre-eclampsia

10 October 2018

An innovative biological treatment to overcome antibiotic resistance, a pioneering technique to create environmentally friendly, near-zero waste processes in the galvanising industry, and a diagnostic test to save mother and baby from life-threatening pre-eclampsia are among the winners in this year’s University of Canterbury Innovation Jumpstart competition.

  • Innovation_NWS_block

    The University of Canterbury’s 2018 Innovation Jumpstart winners (from left to right) are: Dr Aaron Marshall, Associate Professor Mathieu Sellier, Dr Jennifer Crowther, Dr Matthew Cowan, and Associate Professor Renwick Dobson.

An innovative biological treatment to overcome antibiotic resistance, a pioneering technique to create environmentally friendly, near-zero waste processes in the galvanising industry, and a diagnostic test to save mother and baby from life-threatening pre-eclampsia are among the winners in this year’s University of Canterbury (UC) Innovation Jumpstart competition.

Innovation Jumpstart gives UC researchers from all disciplines, including arts, science, education, engineering, business and law, the opportunity to transform their ideas and research into commercial reality.

The Jumpstart competition is in its ninth year with researchers from across the university encouraged to consider how their ideas and research may hold the potential to transform into a commercial reality.

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

“The Innovation Jumpstart competition takes innovative research ideas to an exciting new level of exploring commercial opportunity,” Prof Wright says.

“The 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.”

Five prizes of $20,000 were awarded funding from KiwiNet. Additionally, technology incubators WNT Ventures and Astrolab chose two projects to receive $35,000 worth of practical services.

Business 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.

The competition was judged by a panel of entrepreneurs and industry leaders, including representatives from Callaghan Innovation, technology incubators WNT Ventures and Astrolab, UC alumni and staff. The judges included award-winning entrepreneur and UC alumnus Dennis Chapman, entrepreneur Paul Davis, Ara Deputy Chair Elizabeth Hopkins, tech investor Greg Sitters who is a Managing Partner of Matū, a venture fund specialising in early stage science and technology startups. 

Innovation Jumpstart winners:

WNT Ventures prize: Recovery of feedstock chemicals from dilute solution

Dr Matthew Cowan (Chemical and Process Engineering)

A novel technology for recovering unused materials from machine or industrial processes. Dr Matthew Cowan proposes creating a technology which will make producing speciality plastics and chemicals more efficient and create less waste. The recycling of waste products from these chemical reactions will create economic benefits for an international market with potential for engineering and operational jobs.

Astrolab prize: Enzymes for controlling Gram-negative pathogenic microbes in food, medicine, and veterinary industries

Associate Professor Renwick Dobson (Biomolecular Interactions Centre, School of Biological Sciences), doctoral candidate Michael Love and Dr Craig Billington (ESR)

Innovative resistance-proof bacteria-killing enzymes that are safe to treat both humans and animals. This treatment will save lives, reduce healthcare costs and be an alternative to antibiotics as a safer and cheaper option. The application of this research will have many implications across multiple industries, creating new treatment options for infections in the medical industry, becoming a low-cost solution to untreatable on-farm bacterial disease, and being a biosecurity treatment for cross-contamination for food that is vulnerable to microbial pathogens.

New diagnostic test for life-threatening condition in pregnancy for mother and child

Dr Jennifer Crowther (Biomolecular Interactions Centre, School of Biological Sciences), Professor Mark Hampton (University of Otago), Dr Neil Pattinson (ChristchurchNZ), Associate Professor Renwick Dobson

Pre-eclampsia is a life-threatening condition for both mother and child that occurs in around 5% of all pregnancies. This diagnostic test uses a biomarker of patients presenting with altered levels of a particular protein to diagnose early in order to closely monitor symptoms and prolong the duration of the pregnancy. This illness currently has no consistent predictive testing method to identify the presence of the illness at an early-stage.

Innovative spin coating to create environmentally friendly materials

Associate Professor Mathieu Sellier (Mechanical Engineering), Dr Volker Nock and Associate Professor Shayne Gooch

A pioneering technology using a new multi-axis spin to coat items in the micro-electronics and optic industry. Associate Professor Sellier proposes a reliable and easy to use process to thin coating of curved surfaces with thin filament creating consistent results every time. This unique technology could disrupt multiple industries.

An eco-friendly solution to reuse acid waste from galvanising plants

Dr Aaron Marshall (Chemical and Process Engineering)

This innovative method recycles iron and zinc from the process of galvanising steel to protect it from corrosion, in order to save resources and recycle waste. Developed from an industry problem, this tech promises to save the industry by up to 70% of its pre-galvanising cleaning costs which could save companies hundreds of thousands each year.

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
Tweet UC @UCNZ and follow UC on Facebook

UCM2018_NWS_block

Unique UC Motorsport race cars impress at international Formula Student contest

The University of Canterbury Motorsport (UCM) team dazzled the judges to take home multiple awards with their two custom-built race cars at the hotly ...

OPRA Participants

HR Students Getting Ahead

HR students are getting ahead by complementing their degrees with additional qualifications.