By leveraging our combined capability, sharing networks and investment we achieve better commercial outcomes for New Zealand.
In 2008, UniCom, a WaikatoLink-led consortium of four universities, including Auckland University of Technology, University of Canterbury and Lincoln University, was awarded PreSeed Accelerator Funding (PSAF) of $1.645 million per annum for three years by the Foundation for Research Science and Technology (FRST). This devolved PreSeed funding was (and still is) an important resource for translating research discoveries into investor-ready commercial opportunities.
In addition to providing the university partners with access to PreSeed investment, the consortium approach was designed to facilitate formal and informal interaction between the university commercialisation offices. All four universities were carrying out world class research in different areas and creating excellent commercialisation opportunities. This partnership promoted collaboration and avoided duplication through sharing of knowledge, resources, expertise and networks between the universities.
UniCom was established around a robust structure and processes for project preparation and development, investment allocation and governance, including:
- An Investment Committee to independently assess investment proposals and allocate funding to projects on a case-by-case basis.
- Development and implementation of standardised commercialisation process forms to encourage best practice in project evaluation and proposal preparation across the UniCom members.
- Increased collaboration, rather than competitiveness, across research organisation commercialisation staff through encouraging regular engagement between commercialisation offices.
The Kiwi Innovation Network (KiwiNet) has grown steadily and is now made up of 14 members. KiwiNet builds on the successful UniCom model by extending its benefits to commercialisation units across the country. KiwiNet’s vision is to create a highly collaborative innovation ecosystem with strong alignment between research and business to drive economic growth from publicly funded research.
KiwiNet’s role is to empower people to commercialise research by helping them to access the tools, connections, investment and support they need. By collaborating on projects, combining capability and sharing networks, we believe that we can better leverage the limited resources available for commercialisation, and help one another achieve better commercial outcomes for New Zealand.
Today KiwiNet partner organisations represent 67% of researchers (6,000) in universities and CRIs across New Zealand. Together they deliver an unprecedented level of collaboration, knowledge and capability sharing in New Zealand.
Over the past 6 years the KiwiNet Investment committee has expanded its portfolio, investing $8.6 million into 244 projects. This has resulted in $2.4 million external co-investment alongside PreSeed, 47 commercial deals and $500 million of potential export earnings.