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Zahra Champion

BIOTechNZ Time to look at the bigger picture

Kia Ora Readers,

We’ve seen another big month for the biotechnology ecosystem.

It  was disappointing to see the Minister of conservation Eugenie Sage banning research on gene editing technology, for this round of the provincial Growth Fund, Predator Free 2050 Limited. National’s environment spokesperson Scott Simpson says New Zealand will be challenged to become predator free without a gene editing ‘science breakthrough’.

I have written an article highlighting that a Biotech Strategy is critical to the country’s future economy,  for a country so reliant on the primary export sector, we need to build a world-class biotech-agritech ecosystem. Until then New Zealand will have to keep relying on individuals working from the bottom-up creating innovations and developments which make a huge impact in their field. Imagine what New Zealand could achieve if we  changed the dial, with a strong vision and strategy behind the Biotechnology sector.

One company doing this is Aroa Biosurgery, I visited their site  near the Auckland Airport, and wow it was impressive. Aroa Biosurgery was founded in 2008, based on the regenerative properties of ruminant forestomach extracellular matrix technology, initially investigated and developed by Dr Brian Ward.  Today Aroa designs and manufactures medical products which enable surgeons and clinicians to repair serious tissue injuries. Their expertise lies in medical device development for soft tissue reinforcement and cellular scaffolding. This is a company to watch.

I am also excited that our New Zealand multinational dairy co-operative Fonterra is embracing biotechnology.  Firstly we all know the story of A2 milk, but how  time does make a big difference, a2 Milk rallies by $1million after sharp lift in first half profit.  What this shows it that Biotechnology research takes patience, requires resilience, tenacity, courage and is not a short-term game.

Secondly Fonterra has taken a stake in Motif Ingredients, a US-based food ingredients company that develops and commercialises bio-engineered animal and food ingredients. ‘The complementary nutrition category – where plant, insect, algae and fermentation-produced nutrition co-exist alongside animal proteins, including cows’ milk – is fast evolving. It’s not a case of either/or, but both,’ says Judith Swales, head of Fonterra’s Global Consumer and Foodservice business.

We have just seen The New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre independent review find New Zealand a world leader in the field of reducing methane emissions from livestock. One of our biotech companies Indigo-ltd, CTO Nathan Balasingham welcomed the review and its recommendations made including increasing the pace and breadth of the NZAGRC’s research, developing wider partnerships, seeking further relevant stakeholder input, and focusing on science extension and commercialisation.

BIO Philadelphia New Zealand Delegation

BIO Philadelphia 3-6 June 2019 is getting closer and BIOTechNZ and MBIE’s Innovative Partnerships invite you to join the New Zealand delegation to exhibit at the largest global convention of biotech and pharma leaders. For more details contact Kimberlee Jordan.

Update on the Market Insights Report

The Market Insights Report is well underway, the purpose of this document is to:

  • Raise Awareness of the potential biotechnology has to help improve New Zealand and  grow the economy.
  • Showcase the Market by providing a comprehensive view of the New Zealand biotechnology market opportunities and  identify barriers to growth.
  • Support Policy to identify opportunities and barriers and support decision making across the government to enable policy development.

We are  seeking collaborative project partners from the industry to work with BIOTechNZ, NZTechMBIE and Callaghan Innovation to provide active input and perspective during the project.  If your company is interested in supporting this key document for the Biotechnology Sector, contact me.

Continue all your great work it doesn’t go unnoticed, and BIOTechNZ will continue to CONNECT, PROMOTE and ADVANCE the biotech sector.


Executive Director

News and Events

Read why a ban on Predator Free using gene editing technology labelled a ‘handbrake’ on conservation by MP Scott Simpson.

Fonterra purchases a minority stake in U.S.-based Motif Ingredients as it explores using alternative types of nutrients in its products.

Congratulations to NZ agritech firm CertusBio who were the big hit at Melbourne’s EvokeAg event winning the pitch tent investment pitch competition last month.

Attend the Changing Face of Government Procurement on 8 April in Auckland and 9 April in Wellington.

Attend the first evening forum in the Bioscience Enterprise networking events “A start-up business in a start-up industry, Helius Therapeutics” with speaker Paul Manning 15 March, Auckland supported by The Institute for Innovation in Biotechnology

Save the dates for the next Tech Alliance event series ‘How the future of Agritech and Biotech will be enabled by IoT’ 9 April Christchurch, 10 April Wellington, 11 April Auckland.

Have your say on new rules for medicines and medical devices for therapeutic products announced by the Minister of Health, Hon Dr David Clark. Contribute to the Therapeutic Products Bill consultation open until 18 April.

See how a South Korean company is turning to blockchain to allow it to share genetic data without risk of hacking or infringement of patients’ privacy. BlockchainNZ the newest member of the Tech Alliance is up and running and keen to get people educated and involved in the New Zealand blockchain community. Sign up to receive their newsletter and find out more about their plans for 2019.

Register for the 2019 Sprout Accelerator. Learn what’s involvedeligibilityhow it works and other FAQs. The Flux Accelerator is also currently accepting applications.

Join TechWomen Mentoring Circles 2019, sessions are running from April to August in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. For the next intake please register before 15 March. Check the 2019 dates here.

Company partnerships wanted. The Biological Sciences Department, University of Auckland has top academic students from the Bioscience Enterprise Program looking for internships to partner for their Masters Thesis. For more information contact Mia Jullig.

Join Digital Identity NZ and Blockchain New Zealand at the next Tech Alliance event series Leveraging Blockchain for your Digital Identity on 14 March Wellington and 21 March, Auckland.

Save the date for these upcoming events  AI-Day on 28 March, Techweek 20-26 May and the Hi-Tech Awards Gala Dinner, 24 May in Auckland.

Register your internship listing with Summer of Tech now.

Read how Tech firms’ continued R&D growth driving economic growth. Computer services companies alone invested $586 million in R&D in 2018, an increase of $150 million, NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says.

Create connections and support the growth of women in tech.Apply for TechWomen’s 2019 Mentoring Circles programme in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Registrations for mentors and mentees close 15 March.

If you have any events you want to promote please get in touch to be listed on our event page.

Ensure you are following us on the new BIOTechNZ linkedin page click here to check you are receiving our posts.

BIOTechNZ is a membership funded organisation, so if you are not already a member, please consider joining us.

Zahra Champion Zahra is Executive Director of BIOTechNZ and is working to bring together a national community of biotech innovators, investors, researchers, educators and policy makers; and connecting this community to global biotech ecosystems.