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Co-founder recognised for innovation

Last updated 05:00 05/03/2014

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Chief scientific officer and co-founder of sustainable fuel company LanzaTech, Dr Sean Simpson, has won the inaugural Sanitarium Innovator of the Year at the Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year awards.

LanzaTech has an office in Parnell and Dr Simpson lives in Mt Albert.

The company "uses a novel biological approach to transform carbon rich waste gases and residues from industry into fuels and chemicals" it says on its website.

He led his company into China and emphasises the importance of innovation for New Zealand's future.

"Innovation is critical in our economy. New Zealand has a long history of innovation, we are innovators," Dr Simpson says.

Prime Minister John Key presented the awards at a ceremony on February 26.

The overall winner was influential Northland general practitioner Lance O'Sullivan, who was named New Zealander of the Year.

The Kaitaia-based doctor was honoured for his leadership, vision and advocacy in healthcare.

Mr O'Sullivan and his wife, Tracy, established low-cost health clinic Te Kohanga Whakaora (The Nest of Wellness) to make basic healthcare more accessible for people in the Far North.

He also set up Northland's first fulltime, school-based health clinic, which provides medical care to 2000 children across the region.

Choreographer and dancer Parris Goebel won Kiwibank Young New Zealander of the Year. She and her Penrose-based Palace Dance Company have appeared in the Central Leader before, having showcased New Zealand dance on the international stage.

Miss Goebel dedicated the award to her parents.

"I never thought chasing my dreams could lead to such a prestigious award," the 22-year-old says.

- Fairfax NZ News

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