Saturday, December 2, 2023

Cauli, kiwifruit among KiwiNet finalists

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Primary sector holds its own on shortlists for innovation awards.
Massey University food tech student Mrinali Kumar is among finalists in the KiwiNet awards for her cauliflower-based ‘ice-cream’. Photo: Supplied
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The primary sector features strongly in the finalists for this year’s KiwiNet research and commercialisation awards, with entries ranging from a cauliflower “ice-cream” to the Ruby Red kiwifruit launch.

The annual awards showcase the latest research innovations poised for commercial deployment from the KiwiNet consortium of 19 universities and Crown Research Institutes, aiming to boost commercial outcomes from publicly funded research into new products and services.

Massey food tech student Mrinali Kumar has been recognised in the student entrepreneur category for her cauliflower “ice cream”, with her Kinda brand utilising the vegetable to provide a creamier, more dairy-like texture than competing products. 

Her aim was to produce a product as close as possible to conventional ice-cream, with a lower environmental footprint. She has partnered with social enterprise organisation Perfectly Imperfect to use imperfect cauliflowers that would otherwise not be sold at retail.

University of Canterbury student Ben Scales is a finalist in the same category with his KiwiFibre natural fibre composite solutions. His first customer is a Nasdaq-listed company using the flax-based fibre to replace carbon fibre in a range of products. 

His developments have included supply relationships with aerospace and geospatial engineering firms.

Dr Richard Winkworth, founder of Ampersand Technologies at Massey University, is a finalist in the breakthrough category for his genetic diagnostics tools for use in primary sector and environmental monitoring.

His technology is attributed with enabling lower cost, time-saving testing that does not have to be performed in a lab for genetic results, opening the door to a wider range of applications. The tool has been used for field tests on kauri dieback and myrtle rust.

The commercialisation impact finalists include Zespri’s Ruby Red kiwifruit launch, with the marketer and Plant & Food Research jointly nominated.  

Initial commercial volumes of 115,000 trays into NZ, Singapore and Japan marked the launch this year, with claimed potential to grow to 15 million trays.

Award winners will be announced on October 6.

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