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Clocktower.Monday 18 June 2018 10:04am

The University of Otago has been bolstered by two key appointments in the field of innovation and research.

New Chief Executive Officer of Otago Innovation Ltd

The new Chief Executive Officer of Otago Innovation Ltd, David Christensen. Photo: Sharron Bennett..

Following the departure of Pete Hodgson who has moved on to head the Dunedin Hospital rebuild advisory group, Otago Innovation Board Chair John Ward is pleased to announce David Christensen as the new Chief Executive Officer of Otago Innovation Ltd, a University-owned company responsible for developing and commercialising the University's intellectual property.

Mr Christensen comes from within Otago Innovation where he has performed the role of General Manager to an extremely high standard over the last two years.

Mr Ward says Mr Christensen will bring to the role a strong appreciation of how academics think and work, having been a highly-valued part of the commercialisation team since 2007.

“He is inclusive, and decisive, and well-connected in local and international markets. His strategic capability is a real strength that should see Otago Innovation perform well into the future,” he says.

"I have a vision for Otago Innovation to become more integral to the fabric of the University."

As an Otago Alumni, Mr Christensen's involvement with the University stems back to 2000, studying to complete a Bachelor of Commerce, and a Master of Tourism, receiving multiple academic scholarships in the process.

Mr Christensen hopes to further enhance the reputation of the University and its relationship with Otago Innovation.

“I have a vision for Otago Innovation to become more integral to the fabric of the University. Successive governments have focused on and begun demanding translation of their investment into research. In the Otago context, some of that translation rests on the shoulders of Otago Innovation as we are the enabler or vehicle through which commercially oriented and commercially applicable opportunities must move,” Mr Christensen says.

New Director of Research and Enterprise

The new Director of Research and Enterprise, Dr Martin Gagnon.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research and Enterprise, Professor Richard Blaikie, is delighted to announce the appointment of Dr Martin Gagnon as the new Director of Research and Enterprise, replacing Dr Gavin Clark who is moving into a new role actively supporting start-up companies from the university sector.

Dr Gagnon is currently working as Chief Operating Officer of Exactis Innovation, a pan-Canadian clinical and molecular patient registry.

“Dr Gagnon has proven skills that are very well matched to Otago's strengths in biomedical and scientific research, as well as a background working with funding agencies supporting excellent research across all disciplines. We look forward to welcoming him and his family as they settle into New Zealand from Quebec,” Professor Blaikie says.

"I look forward to working for the great institution that is the University of Otago and helping it reach new heights."

Dr Gagnon has a BSc in Biochemistry from the Université de Sherbrooke as well as a PhD in Pharmacology & Therapeutics from McGill University, Montréal.

In addition to an impressive professional work history, Dr Gagnon has also published numerous articles in high profile journals, including Nature Medicine in 2017.

“I am delighted to join the dedicated and passionate team at R&E. I look forward to working for the great institution that is the University of Otago and helping it reach new heights. Being new to the country will bring an added challenge but I am confident that together we will create many great success stories for the University. I wish to thank Professor Blaikie and all the staff at R&E for giving me this wonderful opportunity,” Dr Gagnon says.

Dr Gagnon will formally take up his post in early July.

A list of Otago experts available for media comment is available elsewhere on this website.

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