KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards to Honor Aduro Biopolymers

The formation of spin-out company Aduro Biopolymers by WaikatoLink Limited, the technology transfer organisation of the University of Waikato, has resulted in a finals place in the Commercial Deal Award in the KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards. Winners will be announced at an awards function on 19th June in Auckland.

Sir William Gallagher (Director, WaikatoLink), Sir James Wallace (Chairman, Wallace Corporation), Duncan Mackintosh (CEO, WaikatoLink), Dr Johan Verbeek (University of Waikato researcher) and Professor Roy Crawford (Vice-Chancellor, University of Waikato) with Novatein bioplastic from Aduro Biopolymers.

Aduro Biopolymers was set up to commercialise a diverse range of materials and polymers from industry co-products and low value waste streams for use in plastics, composites, manufacturing, agriculture, and the building and construction sectors. The company’s lead product, a bioplastic called Novatein, is made from naturally occurring materials that on their own quickly degrade in the environment.

In February the company received investment from Wallace Corporation Limited, by volume New Zealand’s largest service rendering business.

Darren Harpur, Acting CEO of Aduro Biopolymers says, “It’s really pleasing to be recognised for the hard work done over 5 or 6 years which has culminated in a complex investment and investment structure which intends to build a company of some scale.

“The deal will fully fund all the operations including an Australian product development programme for Novatein. It also aligns with the interests of Wallace Corporation as we provide a way to take innovative technology to market building on Wallace Corporation’s strategy of adding further value to exsiting commodity products they produce. In this case, blood meal. This builds on the strategic partnership Wallace Corporation has with the University as a way to continually source innovation.”

Harpur says the goal is to have price competitive sustainable product in the market in 2016 or 2017.

Duncan Mackintosh, Chief Executive of WaikatoLink says, “Aduro Biopolymers is attracting commercial interest as they’re solving problems and providing real alternatives with their novel and high quality natural materials for industry. It’s really satisfying to play a role in transferring highly innovative science from the University to the marketplace.”

Harpur adds “The potential of the company is significant. The global plastics market is worth over a trillion dollars and currently bioplastics represent 5-10% of that market and is growing quickly. Novatein creates a compelling proposition for potential partners and customers due to its simple cost effective manufacturing processes and its environmental benefits.”

The science behind Novatein originated and continues to be developed by the School of engineering out of the University of Waikato by Chemical Engineer Dr Johan Verbeek and his team. Novatein has been in development since 2007 and has received investment support from KiwiNet’s PreSeed Accelerator Fund from the Ministry of Science and Innovation.

Twelve finalists have been selected for the inaugural KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards designed to celebrate success within New Zealand’s research organisations. Four category winners and a people’s choice award will be announced at an awards function on 19th June.

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