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Zahra Champion

Biotech grabbing headlines


It was a big month last month, with the completion of Techweek2021 – a nationwide series of events showcasing and celebrating New Zealand innovation, run by NZTech.

The same week closed with the largest NZ Hi-Tech Awards event ever, with 1300 attendees from throughout the sector.  

I must give a shout-out to:

NZTech (which coordinates the Tech Alliance group, of which BioTechNZ is a member), which won the award for Best Contribution to the NZ Tech Sector. This recognition is unique in that NZ Tech (and the Tech Alliance) is not just one company but a community of hundreds of passionate people and committed organisations who have come together, since NZTech’s establishment as a not-for-profit entity in 2008, to connect, promote and advance the technology innovation ecosystem.

NanoLayr (Revolution Fibres), which won the award for Most Innovative Deep Tech Solution, plus Iain Hosie (Founder and Technical Director), who is on the BioTechNZ Executive Council.

Over Queen’s Birthday Weekend, 170 New Zealanders made it onto the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for 2021. Recognition went to a number of people in the health/bio/tech sector.

Awarded Knights Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit:

Mr Michael Grenfell Daniell, of Auckland. For services to business, healthcare and governance. Distinguished Professor William Alexander Denny, ONZM, of Auckland. For services to medical research.

Awarded Companion of the New Zealand Order or Merit:

Dr Maxwell Gilbert Shepherd, JP, of Wanaka. For services to biotechnology and business. Check out the full list here Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2021.

What’s happening in the BioTechNZ Camp?  We are seeing a real need for a special focus on the following three areas in the biotech space:  Human/Medical Environmental/Industrial  Agriculture  
BioTechNZ is looking to address this gap by creating, as a first starting point, a working group for Medical BioTech. Are any BioTechNZ members keen to participate in this working group? The BioTechNZ strategic plan remains in place. However, this working group is to distill out the key focus areas. If this is of interest to you, please send us an email here.

Put your hands up if you want a BioTechNZ Conference?

The last biotechnology conference was held by NZBIO in 2017. Currently, I am looking into the options of running a BioTechNZ conference somewhere between November 2021 and March 2022 in Auckland. We would run three streams (Human, Environmental/Industrial and Agriculture), and it would ideally run over two days.

Click on the button below to let us know if this is something you would like to attend, and if you are interested in sponsoring, exhibiting, speaking at, or contributing to this event.

Tobacco for thought It may be small, but it is a powerful statement because, for the first time in a long time, a Ministerial- and Cabinet-approved consultation has put “genetic engineering” into a Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS). More so because the Associate Minister of Health has a biomedical background and is also the Minister for Food Safety. This is a generational opportunity to fix the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 and bring it into the 21st century. It is in the Regulatory Impact Statement for the Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Action Plan (page 8 (paragraph 8):  “Low nicotine cigarettes have been available since the 1970s and can be manufactured using three main methods – degradation, extraction and genetic engineering.” NZ should move to low nicotine cigarettes, BiotechNZ says — New Zealand TodayAddressing the talent issue NZTech is working hard to address the issue of acquiring talent for businesses. There is a real focus on the tech sector, but we are seeing the same issues with regard to recruitment in the biotech sector.  If you have recruitment issues, can you fill in this talent survey (note that it is tech focused) to capture the specific issues for the biotech sector.   If you are going to submit, please put BIOTECH in front of your company name so we can filter out our sector.

That’s a wrap!  I better get going, as I have a lot of work to do to see if I can devise a sound plan to deliver a conference to the biotech sector. Watch this space.

Have a great June, and stay safe.

Zahra Champion
Executive Director

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.