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Zahra Champion

May Newsletter: How New Zealand can be competitive on the global stage

Kia ora Readers,

I hope you all had a great break over Easter and ANZAC Day. I attended a close friend’s wedding at Spindletop in Lexington, Kentucky. Lexington is at the heart of the thoroughbred racing and performance horses scene. One of the things the Americans excel in is their collaboration and close affiliation with universities, where both human and equine practitioners, and companies, work together to find new and innovative ways to treat diseases and injuries. In the equine area Interleukin-1 Receptor Antagonist Protein (IRAP), Platelet-rich-plasma (PRP) and stem cell therapies are commonly used to manipulate the body’s biological mechanisms to stimulate healing in horses.

In early April, BIOTechNZ, Agritech and the New Zealand Internet of Things (IoT) Alliance ran events in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland which discussed connected capital. Paul Manning, co-founder and CEO of Helius Therapeutics, a new BIOTechNZ member, spoke on the panel at the Auckland event. Manning discussed the journey of navigating a start-up business in a start-up industry. I am unsure if I now have a heightened awareness of medicinal cannabis, but the first thing I saw on the newsstand when I arrived in Houston was the Medicinal Marijuana – The Medical Movement, a special issue of TIME magazine. We then attended a wedding function and a group of young people were wearing Kentucky Cannabis Company t-shirts, and in the shopping malls there were stands of Cannabidiol (CBD) oils, CBD+terpenes, CBD edibles, relief creams and even cannabis coffee. What struck me is that there are so many companies in the USA with very little product quality assurance. This is where New Zealand has an opportunity to have a competitive advantage on the global stage, by having a robust New Zealand brand, backed by high-quality biotechnology research.

Another big area of growth in the United States is wearable sensors which provide accurate, continuous and wireless monitoring of health and disease states. I found it interesting that on the first page of Nature Biotechnology April 2019, the Food and Drug Administrator (FDA) commissioner Scott Gottlieb highlighted that “mobile technologies were delayed and stymied because of legacy business models that discourage collaboration and data sharing.” Again this is somewhere New Zealand can be competitive on the global stage, as New Zealand offers an environment where the ease of doing business is among the best in the world, with robust adherence to standards and rules of trade, and a lack of corruption.

Back in New Zealand, one of new our members, Biozest, has been in the news talking about NZ’s chance to really reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Chief Technical Officer Nathan Balasingham says that if New Zealand acts swiftly, the country will avoid market barriers from nations that are already taking steps to reduce emissions as “many farmers and the public are not aware that dairy cows and cattle are inefficient as they only convert 25 percent of pasture protein to milk or meat while 75 percent is wasted as urea and methane.”

I would like to welcome our other new members to BIOTechNZ who have joined in the last month: Indigo LtdMarken and Caldera Health. The next couple of months will be a busy with finalising the BIOTechNZ Summit and Awards Event (watch for details in next newsletter), Techweek 2019 (20-26 May), the final preparations for BIO 2019 in Philadelphia (3-6 June), and the Fieldays in Hamilton (12-15 June).

Our next generation of biotechers are key to enabling our New Zealand companies to grow. Come and congratulate the latest cohort of The University of Auckland’s Master of Bioscience Enterprise (MBioEnt) students that have submitted their theses. The Sabre Celebration will be held on Friday 17 May, with Angus Brown speaking about ‘Commercialising New Zealand’s first Brain Drink.’ Check out the details here.
Kia Kaha,

Executive Director

News and Events

Check out the BioTech events on offer as part of Techweek19. Highlights include Lasers, Sperm, and other Great Ideas, and Medtech – Good for the world?

Techweek TV will also broadcast interesting episodes across the week (20-26 May), including automation in AgriTechthe role of technology in the future of health, and where does our food really come from?

Scale-Up New Zealand, a Callaghan Innovation initiative to strengthen ecosystem maturity, launched in April. This is a free online platform connecting innovative New Zealand businesses, investors, incubators and others, with each other and the world. We encourage you to place your organisation’s profile on Scale-Up, so it easier to attract funding. Learn more here.

More needs to be done to help Kiwi biotech and agritech companies go global faster.

Does New Zealand win or lose as world agriculture gets remade for a planet of 10 billion people?

Why New Zealand should rethink rules on genetic modification.

Get your tickets now for BIO 2019, 3-6 June in Philadelphia.

TechWomen’s award-winning mentoring programme ShadowTech is back for 2019 and is looking for mentors. ShadowTech provides girls (years nine to eleven) with the opportunity to experience what working in a tech job could be like, by shadowing a tech professional for a day. Sign up now to be a mentor.

Applications close on 7 June for the Falling Walls Lab New Zealand. This is an opportunity for the next generation of innovators to share, in three minutes, their research project, business model or social initiative relevant to the world today and compete to win a trip to the Falling Walls lab Finale in Berlin.

BIOTechNZ members are being offered a 25 percent discount to attend the New Zealand Women’s Leadership Symposium, 28-29 May in Auckland. Email us to receive the discount code.

Join EdTechNZ and TechWomen on 13 June in Wellington20 June in Auckland and 26 June in Christchurch to discuss how to achieve diversity in the tech sector. Registrations opening soon.

Crazy & Ambitious 2, a BioHeritage symposium, is happening this month (20-21 May in Wellington) so sign up now.

Registrations are open for the Global Biotechnology Congress, 3-5 September in Boston.

Save the date for the Canterbury Tech Summit on 12 September in Christchurch.

AFT Pharmaceuticals has completed another three deals in Mexico, Switzerland and Cyprus.

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.