Entrepreneur, scientist feeling vindicated

NOMINATED: Pukekohe scientist and entrepreneur Nathan Balasingham has been nominated for the prestigious World Technology Award in the Individual Biotechnology category.
Fairfax NZ
NOMINATED: Pukekohe scientist and entrepreneur Nathan Balasingham has been nominated for the prestigious World Technology Award in the Individual Biotechnology category.

Pukekohe scientist and entrepreneur Nathan Balasingham was feeling vindicated after being nominated for the prestigious World Technology Award in the Individual Biotechnology category for his products Biozest and Agrizest.

The awards, which are run by the World Technology Network, will be presented in 20 different categories to people who are deemed to be doing the "most innovative work of the greatest likely long term significance" in New York on November 15.

For years, Mr Balasingham has battled claims that he was selling snake oil and he has put much time into researching the full effects of his products, which he said can increase the productivity, quality and profit in the agriculture and horticulture industries.

He said the network's peer reviewing of his studies was an opportunity which could not be paid for.

"The way they go about peer reviewing what you have done is one of the best. They have scientists from over 60 countries looking at your work," he said.

"They are the cream of the cream, they have already done it and achieved technologies for the future.

"If those people can validate what you are doing, it is a big thing."

His research suggested that Agrizest reduced crop damage, enhanced development of stress tolerance, improved nutritional content and improved crop yield and quality, while Biozest improved pasture productivity, pasture palatability, environmental and soil stress tolerance, stock productivity and milk and stock quality.

He hoped that now his product has been recognised internationally, more farmers, growers and scientists would take a more objective view of it.

"When it comes to the crunch, if it is going to make a huge difference to our well being, we have to be more objective," he said.

"With [the World Technology Network] validating [my work] it gives me much more confidence to say 'Hey, fine if you want to challenge it, use it, try it for yourself'."

Mr Balasingham was born in Malaysia through Sri Lankan ancestry and was working in a plantation when his Kiwi boss recommended he studied and got a degree.

He moved to Whanganui but found that he would have to spend a year in high school to get university entrance.

The then 20-year-old breezed through his studies and a year later, started at Massey University.

He graduated with a Masters Degree in Horticultural Science with 1st class honours.

In 1985, he moved to Pukekohe and worked as an advisor to kiwifruit growers but left that job in 1992 when he invented the award winning kiwifruit juice Kiwi Crush.

Waikato Times