Three Plant & Food Research innovations and scientists are amongst the 12 finalists selected for the fifth annual KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards, which celebrate impact from science through successful research commercialisation within New Zealand’s universities and Crown Research Institutes.
The finalists include Dr Andrew Kralicek, science team leader, molecular sensing and consumer & product insights, Dr Philip Elmer, team leader integrated disease, plant pathology, and Plant & Food Research itself.
Kracilek is nominated for the Norman FB Barry Foundation Breakthrough Innovator Award, for his research on harnessing insects’ receptors for commercial sensing.
His technological breakthrough led to the development of a proof of principle prototype showing that insect odorant receptors can be used for the detection of miniscule amounts of volatile compounds. Possible commercial applications range from human health, pest and disease detection, food quality and defence technologies.
Elmer is up for the Baldwins Researcher Entrepreneur Award, for his work on biological tools to control plant disease and reduce pesticides.
His tools address a range of diseases including botrytis, a major disease affecting many crops, particularly wine grapes.
He has introduced the GrapeFutures programme that created tools used by 75 per cent of NZ wine growers to enhance sustainable disease control practices. He has also led the development of a new bio-bactericide for Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae (Psa) control, due to be released to kiwifruit growers in time for Spring 2018.
Finally, Plant & Food Research is nominated for the PwC Commercial Impact Award, for the development of Amarasate extract, a 100 per cent plant-based, world-first weight management extract.
The Kiwi Innovation Network (KiwiNet) is a consortium of 16 universities, Crown Research Institutes and a Crown Entity established to boost commercial outcomes from publicly funded research, with the award winners named on 5 July.