10 May 2012

Kiwinet joins the dots for science, business

6:56 am on 10 May 2012

Research institutes and universities are teaming up to find better ways to link their scientists with businesses in a bid for innovation that will deliver commercially viable products.

Kiwinet was formed last year by six universities and four Crown Research Institutes to promote the commercialisation of New Zealand's science and technology research.

A professor of plant pathology at Lincoln University, Alison Stewart, says a key part of the commercialisation process is for researchers to team up with businesses at a very early stage.

This will give them a business context for the commercial specifications required for new products.

Scientific research, business and marketing aspects need to align, and better cooperation will help cope with unexpected hitches in this process. Kiwinet will allow people to share expertise and advice and develop collaborative opportunities.

"We're looking at things much more as a nationally-coordinated research and development capability - it's all coming back to trying to meet the Government goals of 'how do we get more out of our research, science and technology community?'," she says.

With universities engaging with state science companies, there are better opportunities to identify "blue skies" research by academics with useful applications that can be developed and exploited, she says.

Kiwinet director David Hughes says the country's research institutes and universities have all made a concerted effort to focus on commercialisation in the last ten years, but the time has come to join those efforts up.