KiwiNet Award finalists announced

Last updated 14:30 03/04/2014
Dr Keith Alexander

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Christchurch-based Springfree Trampolines is one of the finalists in the second annual Kiwi Innovation Network's (KiwiNet) Research Commercialisation Awards, announced today.

The awards celebrate commercial achievements that come from publically funded research.

Springfree Trampolines, nominated for the Commercial Deal Award, now sells 50,000 safety-focussed trampolines worldwide each year. The company sprang from an idea from Canterbury University's Dr Keith Alexander, who wanted to create a safer trampoline for his kids.

"When my daughter Katie was 18 months old I suggested we get a trampoline, and as a new mum [my wife] was horrified and said 'no they are too dangerous'," Alexander said.

Dr Alexander worked with students at Canterbury University for nearly a decade, developing various prototypes for a trampoline did not have steel bars or springs that cause many accidents with children.

The other finalists for this year's awards include Tauranga-based company Heilala Vanilla, that worked with Massey University's Marie Wong to make its vanilla cooking products, and Agricultural company C-Dax, that partnered with Massey University's Centre for Precision Agriculture to create a pasture meter enabling farmers to make better-informed pasture grazing decisions.

The KiwiNet awards judges are Dr Andrew Kelly, executive director at BioPacificVentures, Sharon Hunter, director of Hunter Powell Investment Partners, Angel Association chairman Dr Ray Thomson and Helen Robinson, founding CEO of TZ1. 

KiwiNet general manager Dr Bram Smith says the scientific innovations honoured in the awards are integral to the formation of new companies that will grow New Zealand's economy.

"A tremendous amount of work goes on behind the scenes in universities and crown research institutes transforming clever research into innovative products and services.  We want to honour these game-changing achievements," said Smith.

Springfree trampolines has won several awards for its trampoline, including Children's Product of the Year in the US in 2010, but Dr Alexander says that the KiwiNet awards are a good way to acknowledge the work that takes place at universities.

"The KiwiNet awards promote the fact that there's a lot of commercialisation coming out of universities, and I think that's pretty cool," Alexander said.

The winners of the awards will be announced on 11 June.

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For an extended interview with finalist Dr Keith Alexander, see this month's issue of Unlimited, on sale today.


KiwiNet Award finalists

Commercialisation Collaboration Award

  • Eradicating bovine tuberculosis with TBfree New Zealand
  • Titanium Technologies New Zealand (TiTeNZ)


Researcher Entrepreneur Award

  • Associate Professor Iain Anderson, University of Auckland
  • Dr Silas Villas Boas, University of Auckland
  • Alistair Jerrett, Plant and Food Research Ltd


Research and Business Partnership Award

  • Marie Wong and Heilala Vanilla, entered by The BCC
  • Controlling Insects with Sex, entered by Plant and Food Research Ltd
  • Precision Seafood Harvesting, entered by Plant and Food Research Ltd
  • Wireless Network Partnership (University of Canterbury and Tait), entered by University of Canterbury


Commercial Deal Award

  • Springfree Trampoline, entered by University of Canterbury
  • Kifunensine Serendipity, entered by Glycosyn, Callaghan Innovation
  • C-Dax Pasture Meter and Massey University's Centre for Precision Agriculture, entered by Massey University.

- Unlimited

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