Two scientists who have spent 20 years developing high temperature superconductors have won the main prize in the inaugural Prime Minister's science awards.
The prize, worth $500,000, was awarded to Dr Jeff Tallon and Dr Bob Buckley.
Their global project on superconductors, which allow electricity to flow without loss of energy, is estimated to be worth 200 million to the country's economy
Winners in five categories - science teacher, emerging scientist and future scientist - have been presented with the prizes at the Star Dome in Auckland on Tuesday.
Dr Buckley says he and Dr Tallon were extremely honoured to receive the award.
"It's a confirmation of what we think is important, which is doing absolutely leading edge science that's internationally competitive, and then taking that to a commercial outcome; an outcome of benefit to New Zealand."
Morrinsville teacher Dr Paul Lowe won the science teacher prize.
The winner in the emerging scientist category, John Watt, says he spent part of his $150,000 prize money on his student loan.
Stanley Roache, 18, won the future scientist award, while Elizabeth Connor took the science media award.
The total prize pool was $1 million.