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UC innovator receives inaugural medal

28 July 2023

Meet Associate Professor Keith Alexander who won the 2010 UC Innovation Medal. He is well-known for his 'spring-free' trampoline invention which created many jobs in New Zealand.


UC Innovation Medal 2010 recipient Associate Professor Keith Alexander.

The recipient of the UC Innovation Medal for 2010 is Associate Professor Keith Alexander.

Professor Alexander (Mechanical Engineering) is well-known for his "spring-free" trampoline invention, which now sells around the world and has won seven international awards including including 2011 Product of the Year USA, 2010 Product of the Year Canada, 2009 International Design Award Australia and the 2009 Parents' Choice Award, USA.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Town said there was very strong competition for the inaugural UC Innovation Medal and he was “delighted to see the breadth and depth of innovation at UC as evidenced by the nominations received”.

Professor Alexander was a very worthy recipient of the inaugural award, said Professor Town.

“Many people may not be aware of his many other ideas which are in various stages on the way to commercialisation. These innovations range from jet boat steering mechanisms, snow probes, ‘nifty lifters’ through to microhydro plants.”

Professor Alexander was a major driving force in setting up the University's Product Innovation Centre (PIC) and is its current Director. PIC provides capability for academic and industrial partners to assist the transformation of research outcomes into new, innovative products. 

“In the case of the Springfree Trampoline his innovation creates both wealth – selling well in a competitive international market – and beneficial value to the community by cutting down on the number of trampoline injuries. It has been estimated that if all the trampolines in the US were spring-free there would be 34,000 fewer children going to emergency departments each year.”

Professor Alexander has subsequently been involved in improving the international safety standards for trampolines. He is the secretary of the American Standards ASTM sub-committee "Trampolines and related Equipment" and has the personal goal of making the standards more effective in reducing injuries. His trampoline has become the benchmark against which others are now measured.

“Keith’s invention has created many jobs in New Zealand,” said Professor Town. “All of the special rods for the trampolines are made by a firm in Gisborne that ships out more than 10 containers of product per year.  Furthermore, the Chinese company which makes the trampolines has employed 10 UC graduates to help improve the design and manufacture of the product.”

An event to mark Professor Alexander’s achievement will be held at the end of October.

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