It is gratifying to see that New Zealand is becoming internationally recognised for its excellence in clean technology research. A major event in the clean technology world is the annual CleanEquity Monaco conference, an invitation-only showcase designed to accelerate innovation and commercialisation in the sector by introducing emerging companies to the contacts they need to grow their businesses. And with little fanfare and for two years in a row, New Zealand companies have been named as the best research-based start-ups to present at CleanEquity Monaco.
In 2011, the winner was HaloIPT, a University of Auckland spin-out company that has implemented inductive power transfer technology to make wireless charging systems for electric vehicles commercially available. This success prompted the conference organisers to ask Auckland Uniservices Ltd, the commercialisation arm of The University of Auckland, to organise a plenary session at the 2012 event. New Zealand – what makes us so special? described the cleantech innovation ecosystem in New Zealand and presented the work of four emerging cleantech companies.
One of those, ArcActive, a University of Canterbury spin-out, was awarded the 2012 prize for best research based start-up. ArcActive is developing high-performance carbon-based batteries for hybrid electric vehicles. The runner-up was SoftGen, also arising from The University of Auckland, which has developed technology to scavenge the latent energy in human motion to directly power small wearable electronic devices and reduce the number of batteries needed.
Congratulations are due to these companies. But more generally, these are real success stories and demonstrate the potential and quality of science-based innovation flowing from our universities.