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Test your commercial idea with the Otago Innovation $60,000 Proof of Concept Grant Competition 2018

Academics, Post-docs and PhD candidates have an opportunity to test their commercially prospective ideas

The annual Proof of Concept Grant competition is open for applications.

As an established feature of the University of Otago calendar, the Otago Innovation POC Grant is in its twelfth year.

It is an opportunity for Academics, Post-docs and PhD candidates to test their commercially prospective ideas in front of mainly external expert panel of judges.

The winner of the Grant will receive $60,000 to help further validate their idea.

The judges will see a lot more than one idea worth investing in, and so it will not just be the winner who may benefit from submitting an application.

Over the last 12 years the submissions have included ideas ranging from human therapeutics, biomarkers, software development to improved technology in household devices.

All applicants will be offered, prior to judging, a chance to attend a ‘Learn to Pitch’ mentoring session to help fine-tune their presentation.

The competition is open to all the University's academic staff. Post-docs and PhD candidates can apply in conjunction with their supervisor or another academic staff member.

Staff click the button below to start an on-line application using your University login credentials, with the ability to save the application as you go.

Post-docs and PhD Candidates upload the word version of application to submit by email to:

If at any time you would like one of our Commercialisation Managers to work with you on your application, ask by phoning our office +64 3 479 3870 or email:

Applications close: Monday 14 May, 5pm.

All the best,

Pete Hodgson

Apply as an Otago academic staff member

Apply now

Apply as an Otago Post-doctoral or PhD candidate

Apply now (Word format, 120KB)

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Proof of Concept Competition 2018 - Meet the experts

Discover the technology transfer experience of University of Otago academics in our video series, or meet the 2018 expert panel of judges who makes the decision on who wins the $60,000. Finally, get an insight into the investment companies that will be present during the judging.


Video series

The Proof of Concept Video Series has been prepared to give you insight into the world of technology transfer. Listen to three University of Otago staff members talk about their experience and how their work is making an impact through commercialisation and their path to getting investor buy in. Each video will be released in sequence over one week, as part of the POC marketing campaign (Mon 30 April, Wed 2 May and Fri 4 May).

Professor Alison Heather (Physiology, UoO) shares a story of her 'commercially early stage' androgen assay, in a market that's ready for it and now Alison is on a path to securing investment (Video released 30 April, duration 60s).POC-Alison Heather-image

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Meet the 2018 Expert Judging Panel

On Wednesday 30th and Thursday 31st of May 2018, Otago Innovation brings together expert innovators in the technology transfer space. Over the two days we will have an expert judging panel that represents precisely what makes the experience of commercialising University technologies so unique. Representing a cross section of University Commercialisation, Investment, Intellectual Property Management, Government and the Private Sector the panel comes from across New Zealand to meet with you and hear about your innovations. If your application is short-listed you will have a chance to pitch face-to-face to the panel and get expert feedback on your technology. It's unusual to find such a panel of experts all in the same room, so we hope it is of great benefit to you.

Julia Chambers

(Chair of POC Judging), Principal, ChambersPage Limited

Julia Chambers

Jules has 20 years international Corporate experience at a senior level in the technology sector including extensive Pharma-Bio-MedTech-Digital Health industry coverage having worked for global pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Genzyme (now Sanofi Genzyme) an American biotechnology company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Currently holds a number of strategic and commercial advisory roles with high growth technology companies in various sectors including the medical devices & therapeutics, biotechnology, smart infrastructure, foodtech and digital sectors.

Jules is also a member of the Biotech& Life Sciences Investment Committee for the Return on Science programme, a pre-seed investment fund that invests in the commercialisation of technology innovations from publicly funded research.

Emma Armitage

Business Analyst, BioPacific Partners

Emma Armitage

Emma has a First Class Honours in BioMedicine and a Masters in BioScience Enterprise.

She works to bring world-class innovation from ANZ to address major unmet needs globally.

Emma currently leads BioPacific Partner’s consumer health activity, building on her background in an internationally-recognised research group and experience across varied public sector roles.

Dr Ian Boddy

Venture Partner, BioPacific Partners

Ian Boddy

Ian Boddy is the principal in his own technology consultancy IKBConsulting.

He has a PhD in organic chemistry from the University of Auckland, was a Research Fellow at Cambridge University and then a Senior Research Leader with the large German agrochemicals company, Schering AG.

He was with AgResearch Ltd as GM Commercial and is a member of the New Zealand Institute of Directors.

Ian is currently a director of Terax Limited, The Centre for Space Science and Technology and Chairman of Honeylab Ltd.

Hon Pete Hodgson

CE Otago Innovation Ltd

Peter Hodgson

Pete Hodgson has a veterinary science degree (1973). Pete was elected as MP for Dunedin North in 1990 and was appointed to Cabinet in 1999.

Pete has held a multitude of portfolios including Economic Development; Tertiary Education; Research, Science and Technology, Health, Transport, Commerce, Land Information, Statistics, Energy, Fisheries and Forestry. In 2014, Pete was appointed CEO at Otago Innovation Limited. He chairs Callaghan Innovation, and also chairs the Biotech and Life sciences Investment Committee for Return on Science.

Tomas Ribeiro

Registered Patent Attorney/Intellectual Property Manager, Otago Innovation Ltd

Tomas Ribeiro

Tomas joined Otago Innovation Limited on 3 April 2017. He is a registered patent attorney with many years’ experience particularly in Life Sciences.

Immediately prior to joining Otago Innovation Ltd Tomas was a patent attorney with Balwins in Auckland and also has experience with large and small pharmaceutical companies and government entities in England and Scotland.

Prior to that, Tomas started his career in IP as a patent examiner at the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand.

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Meet the 2018 investors

Otago Innovation invite experienced investors to take a look at new ideas early in their development. Many investors (from NZ and Australia) come and go throughout the two days of judging, they have all signed Confidentiality Agreements, so your ideas are safe with us. Below is a list of companies that will be represented at this years judging.

AstrolabAstrolab adopts complex technologies across a range of sectors. Working alongside our early-stage partners, we develop robust venture pathways enabling NZ’s ideas to navigate toward success on the world stage.

brandon_logoBrandon Capital Partners manages the MRCF Collaboration, providing seed and venture capital investment to support the development and international growth of Australian life science companies. We work collaboratively with entrepreneurs to demonstrate the benefit of their technology, thereby creating value for them, their teams and our investors.

Powerhouse VenturesPowerhouse Ventures Ltd was established in 2006 to commercialise scientific innovation developed at the universities of Lincoln and Canterbury along with the region’s other leading research-intensive institutions. In addition to investing directly in its own portfolio of companies, Powerhouse manages the co-investment of funds from external investors. Its principal Co-investors are NZVIF Investments Limited (a subsidiary of New Zealand Venture Investment Fund) and CRIS Limited (a subsidiary of Canterbury Development Corporation).

WNT-VenturesWNT Ventures seek technologies out of New Zealand publically funded institutes as well as the private sector. We leverage our commercial backgrounds, our capital and networks and our links within Callaghan Innovation funding to provide early stage, high risk capital investment and incubation of technology to accelerate growth in a targeted manner. Growth is achieved through the utilisation of and co-operation with strong national and global networks of individuals, companies and research institutes and by utilising the internal capabilities within WNT Ventures.

ROS_logo_partnerspageReturn on Science is a national research commercialisation programme that delivers new research to market from universities, research institutions, and private companies.

Return On Science connects science and technology with top-tier advice and guidance, strategic management, world leading best practice process, and efficient access to capital. Five specialist world-leading investment committees give projects the domain specific experience and connections that cannot be found elsewhere in New Zealand.

Ice-Angels-(2)The ICE Angels is a network of New Zealand's leading entrepreneurs, corporate executives, and professional investors that collaboratively invest in and support exceptional teams that are exploiting global opportunities.

Otago-AngelsOtago Angels facilitates links into the seed/early stage investment marketplace by bringing entrepreneurs/companies and investors together to build new business opportunities. Our focus is typically on early stage technology businesses that are highly scalable and capable of moving quickly into offshore markets.

KiwinetThe Kiwi Innovation Network (KiwiNet) is New Zealand’s network of public research organisations, working together to transform scientific discoveries into marketable products and services.
KiwiNet partners are Plant & Food Research, Callaghan Innovation, AgResearch, Otago Innovation, Landcare Research, Lincoln University, University of Canterbury, Viclink, WaikatoLink, AUT Enterprises Ltd, Cawthron Institute, Environmental Science & Research, NIWA, Scion, GNS Science and Malaghan Institute.