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Auckland hotel donates $250,000 to pioneering Kiwi scientists

Thursday 6 October 2016, 12:19PM
By Undertow Media
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AUCKLAND

A prominent hotel in Auckland announced today that it has donated $250,000 to KiwiNet’s Emerging Innovator Fund, supporting early career New Zealand scientists to develop revolutionary new ideas.

Quality Hotel Parnell, part of Choice Hotels Asia-Pac, is located on one of Auckland’s most affluent streets and boasts views of Auckland city centre and Waitemata Harbour. The property was founded by Norman Barry in 1964 and became a charitable trust after he passed away in 2007. Since then, Quality Hotel Parnell has been strongly involved with a number of community-based charities and research groups.

The latest recipient is the Kiwi Innovation Network (KiwiNet), a national network of New Zealand universities, Crown research institutes and organisations. It aims to transform science and technology-based discoveries in New Zealand’s publicly funded research organisations into marketable products and services. Its Emerging Innovator Fund encapsulates this.

Wayne Darbyshire, General Manager of Quality Hotel Parnell, says the hotel is thrilled to offer its support to clever Kiwi scientists to assist with the development of their innovations.

“When guests stay at the Quality Hotel Parnell, they are contributing to its efforts to improve the quality of life in New Zealand,” says Darbyshire.

Chairman John Smith says “our goal is to offer long-term support to advancing scientific research in New Zealand, in the hope that the research and development each of these scientists are undertaking will have far-reaching and significant benefits for New Zealand and the world.”

The $250,000 donation, made by the Norman F B Barry Foundation, a charitable trust and the sole shareholder of Quality Hotel Parnell, will support ten emerging New Zealand scientists who might otherwise not receive financial support to further develop their ideas.

Dr Swati Gupta from Callaghan Innovation is one of the initial candidates selected to receive funds from Quality Hotel Parnell. She has developed a game for touch-screen computers and tablets that will enable children with autism to improve their social interaction skills. Dr Gupta will use the funds to further develop her current prototype, working with end users in a large clinical trial to discover the potential of her development.

Other candidates chosen include Dr Jérôme Leveneur from GNS Science in Wellington, who has developed a novel nanostructured magnetic material with the aim of improving electrical inductors and transformers and Dr Greg Walker from the University of Otago, who is developing biodegradable nano-webs to protect plants against pests.

Phil Stucki, Commercial Projects Manager at KiwiNet, said the money donated by Quality Hotel Parnell will go directly towards mentoring, industry engagement and prototype development for each of the candidates selected.

“As New Zealanders, we are pretty good at coming up with new ideas but not always so good at getting them to market. The Fund is intended to not only help advance the technical side of each of the candidate’s ideas, but also help develop their commercialisation skills along the way. We are very pleased to be working with the Quality Hotel Parnell to be able to do this,” says Stucki.