Researchers get $1m to aid battery project

MATHEW GROCOTT
Last updated 12:00 13/09/2012

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Massey University researchers developing better batteries have been granted nearly $1 million to push their technology closer to the market.

The research team will get a share of the $92m the Government has injected into New Zealand's hi-tech manufacturing sector.

The batteries are expected to be cheaper and more sustainable than current models on the market.

Professor Simon Hall, of the Institute of Fundamental Sciences, leads the team that has received funding over two years from the Business, Innovation and Employment Ministry.

Prof Hall and his colleagues, Dr Mark Waterland and Dr Gareth Rowlands, aim to design a new battery and related technologies based on targeted novel chemistries. The new cathodes should result in less expensive and more sustainable long-term commercial products.

In announcing the grants, Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce said "the projects that are being funded have significant export potential".

"Our top 10 hi-tech companies export $4 billion of product a year but we need more businesses to grow to this size," he said.

"The projects range from medical technologies like early cancer-detection technology and smart gels to stop bleeding, to novel materials like nano-technology insulation."

The global stationary battery market is worth $4.9b per year, with the global electric vehicle market worth $30b.

Work already carried out by Prof Hall's team has shown sufficient promise for Massey University and its commercialisation partner, the Bio Commerce Centre, to form the company Synthodics.

The intellectual property has been licensed to the company.

"Growing innovation in New Zealand is vital to creating a better performing economy and improving our standard of living," Mr Joyce said.

"New Zealand businesses need to lift their spending on [research and development] and I am pleased to see that almost half of these successful research projects are co-funded by the firms that will directly benefit from the work."

The $92m will be invested over the next six years in 31 projects at universities, Crown Research Institutes and private research organisations.

The 31 successful research projects resulted from a contestable process where research organisations put in bids.

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- Manawatu Standard

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