Prize money helps propel University of Canterbury innovation

03 November 2021

Seaweed-based plasterboard, an app to help young people navigate sex and relationships, and a system to make houses safer in an earthquake are some of the innovative University of Canterbury projects to win a funding boost this week.

  • Innovation jumpstart

    UC academics and students from five winning projects were presented UC Innovation Jumpstart awards last night by Professor Ian Wright, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) (centre), and UC Research and Innovation Director Elizabeth Hopkins (far right). Alexandra Stuthridge (second from right) presented the Kiwinet awards.

Five University of Canterbury Innovation Jumpstart award winners were announced at an event last night, with each successful project getting a $20,000 prize.

The goal of the competition, which is run annually by UC Research and Innovation, is to support researchers to transform valuable ideas into reality so they can make a difference in an ever-changing world. It is open to University of Canterbury academic staff across all research areas.

University of Canterbury Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Innovation Professor Ian Wright says the winning projects have exciting potential.

“It’s wonderful to be able to recognise the creativity and potential value of these ideas to our community and New Zealand as a whole. We want to support them as much as we can through product development, the commercialisation process and beyond.”

This year’s Innovation Jumpstart was sponsored by Kiwinet, WNT Ventures, Bridgewest Ventures and AJPark.

WNT Ventures and Bridgewest Ventures are offering additional support to two “Greatest Global Impact” winners, Dr Sarah Kessans in the School of Product Design and Professor Renwick Dobson in the School of Biological Sciences, to help their projects through the commercialisation process. 

The competition was judged by a panel of entrepreneurs, investors and commercialisation experts, including representatives from Kiwinet, WNT Ventures, Bridgewest Ventures, and Research and Innovation.

The UC Innovation Jumpstart 2021 winners announced on Tuesday, 2 November are:

Greatest Global Impact - WNT Ventures
Dr Sarah Kessans – School of Product Design
Nanosatellites for biotechnological research in microgravity

Greatest Global Impact - Bridgewest Ventures
Professor Renwick Dobson – School of Biological Sciences
Associate Professor Volker Nock – Electrical and Computer Engineering
Daniel Mak (PhD Candidate) – Electrical and Computer Engineering
Capillary microfluidic assays for improved testing in the wine industry

Greatest Commercial Potential - Kiwinet
Professor Tim Sullivan – Civil and Natural Resources Engineering
Tom Francis (PhD candidate) – Civil and Natural Resources Engineering
A low-cost base isolation system for residential buildings

Greatest Commercial Potential - Kiwinet
Dr Tim Huber, Dr Nick Emerson and Andy Park – School of Project Design
Dr Dennis Pau – Civil and Natural Resources Engineering
Seaweed Plasterboard

Greatest Social or Environmental Impact – UC Research & Innovation
Tracy Clelland – School of Health Sciences
Dr Adrian Clark - School of Product Design
Dr Fabian Gilson - Computer Science and Software Engineering
Te Puāwaitanga: Beyond the birds and bees. Relationships and sexuality app for rangatahi