Transferring ideas from academia to the commercial world has been a key part of BCC’s business ever since it began nearly a decade ago.
BCC’s technology transfer division, led by senior technology transfer advisor Jaspreet Kaur, works in partnership with Massey University’s business development and commercialisation office, led by Mark Cleaver. Here, ideas dreamed up by Massey staff are assessed, potential intellectual property is protected (and patented where appropriate), investment is secured and market research is carried out, as well as market validation (talking to potential customers about what their ‘pain points’ are and whether they might have a need for the product).
While BCC promotes start-ups, as part of the tech transfer process it also seeks development partnerships with other companies and/or opportunities to license the technology to third parties.
Massey staff come up with about 30 good ideas a year across a variety of sectors, of which the majority have commercial potential. For instance, start-ups that BCC has assisted include BioLumic, a company harnessing UV light to promote growth in plants, and PolyBatics, a nanotechnology company creating beads for manufacturing processes in biotechnology.
BCC has also negotiated a license for a DNA ligase, an enzyme that helps join DNA strands together, to an American company and has recently begun work on technology to detect lameness in dairy cows. BCC gathered a team of vets, engineers and computer scientists together for this latter proposal and Massey’s commercialisation office subsequently partnered with an agri-tech company to further develop the technology.
In addition, BCC is also working with Massey on a compound that promotes satiety and will therefore act as a dieting agent, along with numerous other concepts in the product development pipeline.
BCC also holds seminars and workshops with Massey; educating staff about commercialisation processes, securing funds for research and product development and protecting intellectual property.
BCC provides advice and assistance on the pathway to spinning out ideas into a start-up company, if any Massey staff member is interested in becoming the next technology entrepreneur.
Crown Research Institutes (CRIs)
BCC offers similar services to the CRIs. It has completed numerous tech transfer projects with New Zealand’s CRIs. Varigate, for example, has recently raised money through MIG Angels and is based on science from LandCare Research.
The health sector
BCC has identified the health sector as a growth area that it is keen to explore. Already BCC has worked with a hospital-based physiotherapist on a technology for asthmatics, and a concept out of Massey for defining the surgical boundaries to skin cancer has an ENT surgeon closely involved. The proposal is still at the early stages of development, but this is the sort of conversation BCC would like to have with more people in this field. Ultimately, they want to develop ideas coming out of the DHB, Massey and from clinicians themselves.