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2017 Proof of Concept competition opens

Monday, 10 April 2017 1:09pm

Otago Innovation Ltd CEO Pete Hodgson is excited to launch this year's $60,000 Proof of Concept contest. Photo: Sharron Bennett.

The University of Otago’s annual ‘Proof of Concept’ competition opens today, searching for research ideas that can be commericalised.

Now in its 11th year, the competition which is run by the University’s commercialisation arm Otago Innovation Ltd, has become an established feature of the University calendar.

Otago Innovation CEO Pete Hodgson says the contest is an opportunity for academics to test their commercially prospective ideas in front of a mainly external panel of judges.

"So we may as well be clear from the outset that it will not just be the winner who may benefit."

The winner will receive $60,000, but if previous years are any guide, many other entrants will end up engaging with Otago Innovation too, Mr Hodgson says.

“We know that the quality will be high because this is the 11th year of operation. The amount of deep intellectual property in the University continues to impress, and the judges will see a lot more than one idea worth investing in. So we may as well be clear from the outset that it will not just be the winner who may benefit.”

Over the past 11 years the competition has thrown up ideas ranging from relatively simple phone apps to more challenging human therapeutics. In more recent times entrants have also been offered a morning of coaching. This year a ‘Pitch then Lunch’ event will be freely available to everyone who has entered, or who is thinking about entering.

Mr Hodgson says the University is strongly embracing the idea of commercialisation as a valuable way to increase research impact.

“We are seeing twice the number of projects each year as we were a few years ago. The quality has remained consistently high, as confirmed by external panel members, while the quantity has doubled.”

This year’s contest – what you need to know:

The grant available is $60,000.
Applications close on Mon 15 May, 5pm.
A "pitch-then-lunch" event will be held on Tue 16 May.
The competition is open to all the University’s academic staff. Students can apply in conjunction with their supervisor or another academic staff member.
For more information, go to
The application form can be found at