News

Masters in Bioscience Enterprise qualification celebrates 5th anniversary

A special celebration marked the 5th anniversary of the Masters in Bioscience Enterprise qualification at the final Bioscience Enterprise Forum for the year on Friday 9 December. Since the launch of the 2-year postgraduate programme in 2006, 85 students have completed their MBioEnt qualification. Graduates are dual skilled in science and business and are employed across the full spectrum of the life sciences industry in New Zealand and overseas. Employment data for over 90% of MBioEnt graduates show the food sector (including neutraceuticals, bioactives, agbio) as the primary career destination (27%), followed by the medical devices industry (19%), pharma (human, veterinary, clinical trials : 15%), and industrial, environmental biotechnology (1%). 17% of graduates are employed outside the life sciences sector. 72% of graduates work in New Zealand, 28% are employed overseas including Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, UK, Germany and Switzerland. 22% of graduates are employed by the companies/organisations where they did their 6 months industry internships for their Masters thesis projects. Feedback from employers has been positive throughout.

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Eight co-appointed staff announced for joint graduate school

At a joint launch event on 2 August 2011 – the Joint Graduate School in Plant & Food Science got underway with the announcement of part-time academic appointments for eight staff at Plant & Food Research. These are:

  • Associate Professor Andrew Allan (Breeding and Genomics)
  • Associate Professor David Greenwood (Bioprotection)
  • Dr Robin MacDiarmid (Bioprotection)
  • Associate Professor Louise Malone (Bioprotection)
  • Associate Professor Richard Newcomb (Food Innovation)
  • Dr Robert Schaffer (Breeding and Genomics)
  • Professor Margot Skinner (Food Innovation)
  • Associate Professor Matt Templeton (Bioprotection)

Plant & Food Research has been a longstanding partner of the Institute for Innovation in Biotechnology. The Joint Graduate School in Plant and Food Science between the CRI and the University of Auckland is the first school of its kind in New Zealand. Combining academic excellence and an industry perspective, the Joint Graduate School offers postgraduate students the opportunity to undertake Masters or PhD projects of direct relevance to the New Zealand primary production and food industries. The school also offers students access to the University’s research programmes and to Plant & Food’s expertise and research infrastructure across the country.

For more information please visit the School’s website www.plantandfood@auckland.ac.nz.

Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) becomes a co-locator in the IIB

LIC is one of the world’s leading dairy herd improvement companies and operates at the forefront of genetic and reproductive technologies and information collection and management systems. These technologies combine to provide dairy farmers with a range of products and services through which they achieve continuing production gains to increase their profitability and wealth.

LIC has been involved in the development of advanced reproductive technologies and proven genetic merit for nearly 100 years and brings together most of the work carried out in this field and the breakthroughs made during that period. LIC's main product categories are Artificial Breeding, Herd Testing and the MINDA animal recording system. Each of these product categories has its own range of products and services for dairy farmers.

Last season LIC achieved a landmark 3.3 million inseminations which represents 80 percent of the national herd and confirms Livestock Improvement’s essential role in contributing to the future profitability of dairy farming in New Zealand.

Through co-location in the IIB LIC has access to research expertise, laboratory facilities, and graduate students.


Prime Minister opens new building

The Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon. John Key cut the ribbon to the new Thomas Building Extension at an official function hosted by the Vice Chancellor and attended by guests from the industry, central and local Government, and the University. The new building and existing Thomas Building are seamlessly connected via bridges on every level in a five story high fully glazed link atrium. The expanded Thomas complex houses the School of Biological Sciences and the Institute for Innovation in Biotechnology (IIB) allowing increased academic-industry collaboration and shared use of its hi-tech facilities. Currently the IIB hosts 9 companies (46 industry staff) working on products across the biomedical, agbio and bioactives sectors. The opening function coincided with an announcement that one of the co-located companies, CoDa Therapeutics Inc., successfully raised US$19 million new funding, bringing the total funding raised by the company to US$43 million.

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Mayor of Auckland visits the IIB and endorses biotech clustering

The Mayor of Auckland Len Brown came for a first-hand look at the new Thomas extension and a briefing on the co-location of biotech companies in the IIB. He highlighted the bio-industry as one of several priority sectors for Auckland and strongly endorsed the clustering of academic and industry groups around shared core facilities. The Mayor’s visit took place in the week of the NZBIO Conference at Sky City where he gave an enthusiastic endorsement for the growing bio-economy in the Auckland region. An Auckland Bioeconomy Development Group has been established to develop a strategy for the growth and promotion of the sector. The group is supported by the Auckland Council Organisation Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development.

Symansis Ltd co-locates in the IIB

Symansis Ltd is a company that produces high quality reagents for the use of researchers in the field of cell biology, including cell signaling research and drug discovery. By moving its R&D and sales staff into the IIB, the company gets access to the state-of-the-art infrastructure and expertise in the School of Biological Sciences, as well as being located in an easily accessible central Auckland address.

ViaLactia Biosciences Ltd joins the IIB

ViaLactia Biosciences Ltd is a world class research company, working on ‘game changing’ projects for the New Zealand dairy industry. State of the art biotechnology and selective breeding are exploited to improve the quality and quantity of forage, as well as to deliver targeted milk composition options. With presently 26 staff – ViaLactia is the largest co-locating company in the IIB. ViaLactia will benefit from direct access to the research infrastructure and expertise in the School of Biological Sciences, and also the proximity to the Head Office of Fonterra which owns the company.

Minister visits expanded Thomas complex

The Hon Dr Wayne Mapp, Minister for Research, Science and Technology, visited the Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Biodiscovery and toured the new Thomas extension which is nearing completion. The new building will accommodate some of the companies co-located in the Institute for Innovation in Biotechnology, a number of academic research groups and new initiatives including the Centre for Peptide Chemistry and the Tissue Engineering Laboratory – both in collaboration with the Maurice Wilkins Centre. The new building and the existing Thomas Building are seamlessly connected via bridges on every level in a five story high fully glazed link atrium. The expanded Thomas complex will have approximately 11,000m2 floor area for a capacity of around 450 academic and industry staff and graduate students.

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New joint graduate school with Plant & Food Research

The University of Auckland and Plant & Food Research have joined together to create a prestigious new Joint Graduate School in Plant and Food Science, the first collaboration of its kind in New Zealand. The School will focus on educating postgraduate students with an interest in plant science (including plant pests) and food science related to plant-derived foods, functional foods, food ingredients and neutraceuticals. Plant & Food Research is a longstanding partner in the Institute for Innovation in Biotechnology – the two organisations share three jointly appointed Associate Professors and engage in several collaborative ventures in research and teaching.


Comvita launches PhD scholarship in natural health

University of Auckland doctoral student Swapna Gannabathula has been named the inaugural recipient of the Claude Alexander Stratford Research Scholarship.

Sponsored by New Zealand natural health product company Comvita, and established in association with The University of Auckland, the scholarship provides three years of funding for a doctoral student based at the university and studying a topic related to natural health products.

Comvita’s founder Claude Stratford marked his 100th birthday earlier this week and the announcement of the scholarship was part of his birthday celebrations held at Comvita’s headquarters in Paengaroa on Friday 20 August.

Comvita is one of several biotechnology companies co-located at the Institute for Innovation in Biotechnology. The institute is New Zealand’s leading bio-incubator, providing biotechnology companies with access to the university’s expertise and resources in order to accelerate their research and development.

Director of the Institute, Professor Joerg Kistler, says that the scholarship demonstrates the commitment of Comvita to the development of innovative natural health products backed by credible scientific research, and that it is a vital part of the partnership between the company and the university.

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Jonathan Stephens, Ralf Schothauer, Swapna Gannabathula, Brett Hewlett, Joerg Kistler, Geoff Krissansen