INDEPENDENT NEWS

Dual success for Engineering spin-offs

Published: Mon 13 Nov 2006 12:01 AM
Media Release
13 November 2006
Dual success for Engineering spin-offs
The Faculty of Engineering at The University of Auckland is celebrating a double win with two of its spin-out companies named high-tech innovators of the year.
Telemetry Research and the Optima Corporation were the joint winners of the PricewaterhouseCoopers Hi-Tech Innovation of the Year prize awarded on November 4. Both companies are the result of University research being commercialised.
Telemetry Research is a spin-off from the Faculty of Engineering and Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences. The company develops wireless power transfer technology for medical applications, such as artificial hearts and heart-assist devices. The devices allow power to be transmitted through the skin without damaging tissue, using inductively coupled power transfer (ICPT) technology. The Faculty of Engineering is a pioneer in ICPT technology.
Telemetry co-founders, Associate Professor Simon Malpas and Dr David Budgett, are both senior academics at the University.
Professor Malpas says, “Telemetry Research is a hi-tech innovation company from the ground up. We plan to revolutionise the medical device industry within New Zealand ensuring employment for graduates, promoting New Zealand as a base for other medical device companies, and play a part in diversifying the economy away from simple commodities.”
The Optima Corporation designs software to streamline business operations. Their flagship product is a system for emergency ambulance services called Siren. The company was founded by three graduates and two lecturers, Professor David Ryan and Dr Andrew Mason, from the University’s Engineering Science department. Its high-technology software is based on Operations Research technology developed at the University, and it is being used to improve ambulance response times in the UK, Canada, Australia and Scandinavia.
Dr Mason says, “This is a tremendous endorsement of our research in Engineering Science and the role we play in creating high-technology ventures that reach worldwide markets. The commercial success of research is vital if New Zealand hopes to be a technology-driven economy competing on an international level.”
Optima has grown rapidly since 2005 when it received $1million in venture capital funding through an investor group called ICE Angels, allowing the start-up to expand into international markets.
Both Optima and Telemetry received support in their early stages from the “entrepreneurial ecosystem” set up by the University’s Business School. Telemetry won the Business School’s Spark Entrepreneurial Challenge in 2004, netting $20,000 in start-up capital. Both companies were “incubated” at The Icehouse, a space for start-up companies founded by the Business School.
Now in its 13th year, the Hi-Tech Awards recognise kiwi companies and individuals behind the growth and promotion of the New Zealand hi-tech industry.
ENDS

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