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Proof of Concept Competition kick starts ideas

Wednesday, 18 June 2014 8:07am

researchers with molars image
Proving the Concept ... Dr Carla Meledandri, Dr Don Schwass and Dr Alex Tickle have been working together to create a product that will eliminate bacteria around dental fillings. Photo: Sharron Bennett.

An idea to eliminate bacteria around dental fillings, which won Otago Innovation’s Proof of Concept Competition in 2011, is on the brink of being turned into a commercial product – just as this year’s competition opens.

magnifyman proof of concept grant imageDentistry Senior Lecturer Dr Don Schwass and Chemistry Lecturer Dr Carla Meledandri won the competition with an idea to use the application of silver-nanoparticles as a way to deliver and maintain antibacterial effects deep within the tooth.

Dr Schwass says since their competition win three years ago they have worked with Otago Innovation Ltd to patent their idea and visit international dental manufacturers, with a view to commercialising.

“We are involved in ongoing discussions with several interested parties,” Dr Schwass says. “We hope to engage with a dental manufacturer to develop the product we have created for market, preferably with the opportunity to collaborate with the manufacturer and be involved with further development. We believe New Zealand offers an excellent environment for conducting clinical trials, to further validate the product.”

Otago Innovation Commercialisation Manager Dr Alex Tickle has been working closely with the pair.

She says the annual Proof of Concept Competition, which launched again this week, provides a perfect starting point for those with an idea lurking in the back of their mind.

"Translating research outcomes into a product or service that could benefit society or some individuals in need is very exciting."


“Translating research outcomes into a product or service that could benefit society or some individuals in need is very exciting. It connects the lab bench or desk with the real world, at least in theory. Not every idea will work, what is special though is that we give it a shot. We provide the $50,000 to help the researcher to prove the concept.”


The Proof of Concept Competition was created in 2007. It is designed to encourage researchers to think about the commercial potential of their research.

The $50,000 will be available from September 2014 and should be used to demonstrate that the concept or theory has the potential for real-world application.

Otago Innovation Senior Commercialisation Manager David Christensen says applying is very simple and should not take any longer than a couple of hours to complete.

Entries to the competition close Friday 1 August 2014.