Queen's Birthday Honours List acknowledges Warkworth entrepreneur and scientist

Renee Clayton/Stuff.co.nz

Maxine Simmons was nominated for her services in science, particularly biotechnology.

Maxine Simmons knew she was going to be a scientist when she walked into her first science class at Massey University in Palmerston North when she was 17.

The Warkworth resident still remembers the day she graduated and went on to do her Masters in Auckland.

Coming from an entrepreneurial family, Simmons always knew she was going to use this to her advantage one day.

Warkworth's Maxine Simmons features in the 2017 Queen's Birthday Honours List.
Renee Clayton

Warkworth's Maxine Simmons features in the 2017 Queen's Birthday Honours List.

Today, she is being acknowledged with a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit award for her services in science, particularly biotechnology.

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The recognition took her by surprise.

"It was totally unexpected, I am not sure who nominated me," she said.

Simmons has been a leader in scientific research and innovation for more than 35 years and has contributed a lot to biotechnology in New Zealand and around the world.

In 1983 Simmons co-founded Immuno-Chemical Products (ICPBio) Ltd and was chief executive until 2003.

ICPBio was one of New Zealand's first biotechnology companies which produced antibodies and veterinary products which grew to export to more than 45 countries.

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Simmons said they created a product during the goat "embriotransfer boom" which was exported out and used in farming.

"We supplied the products to make Cashgora and Angora goats, which produced a national herd."

Simmons said she has always tried to make science more commercialised and has helped biotechnology become more accepted in New Zealand.

"There is some pretty cool science out there."

Simmons was also the interim chief executive for the reagent manufacturer, Symansis New Zealand, and biotechnology company, Photonz Corporation.

In 2005, Simmons founded BioCatalyst Ltd, a specialist consultancy providing capital raising and management advice to start-up biotechnology and life science companies. 

She still continues as managing director.

Simmons was also the chair of Im-Able Ltd, manufacturers of the ableX stroke recovery system, and has been the chief executive of Cure Kids Ventures for the past nine years.

Simmons has also been recognised for her contributions of the Foundation for Research Science and Technology Board, and chaired its Investment Committee and Technology New Zealand Sub-committee.

"I have found we have amazing medical scientists here in New Zealand who really punch above their weight.

"We are a nation of biologists, therefore we have a really big role to play in helping future generations."

Simmons is behind science in New Zealand and is a member of the governing board of the Maurice Wilkins Centre for BioDiscovery, the advisory board of the MedTech CoRE, and was a member of the Industrial Research Ltd Board.

She was also an inaugural member of the Industry New Zealand Board and one of New Zealand's three representatives to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Advisory Council from 2010 to 2014.

"We are a small country, we need to be exporting some of our great products. We need to get out there, be bold and take some risks."

Simmons is one of the handful in Rodney who were selected for the Queen's Birthday Honours for 2017. 

Daphne Stevens, Orewa, Doris Dunn, Whangaparaoa, and Susan Huria, Silverdale were also acknowledged by the Queen for their services.  

 - Rodney Times

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