Dr Justin Hodgkiss of the MacDiarmid Institute gave a fascinating talk. He introduced his presentation by saying that if  there  were just 100 inspired entrepreneurs in the high technology sector it would double New Zealand’s export earnings.
 
Around half the club members missed hearing last week’s presentation as only about 30 turned up. This was a shame as Justin Hodgkiss of the MacDiarmid Institute gave a fascinating talk. He introduced his presentation by saying that if there were just 100 inspired entrepreneurs in the high technology sector it would double New Zealand’s export earnings.
 
The MacDiarmid Institute is a partnership of universities which invest in people who are carrying out the research work. They have to get scientists and investors together. This is not as easy as it sounds as many scientists are not very good at making presentations to non-scientists. A lot of training is required to change the way the entrepreneurial scientists make their pitch to the potential investors. They have also week-long training camps for PhD students to help them think about starting new companies to develop their inventions.
 
Justin used a few examples of companies from the past year which he is involved with which use the skills and knowledge of scientists. AuramerBio is one company which is aiming to revolutionise the way disease is diagnosed using DNA aptamer. We all knew what this was, of course, but Justin helped by explaining these are synthetic antibodies and they can be used to make sensors to help diagnose an illness or disease. The hope is to have an electronic chip which will examine a small sample of blood using the amazing and unlimited systems on a mobile phone.
 
Engender was another company which uses microfluidics and photonics – subjects, which again, all club members were totally familiar with. The fun side of using microfluidics can sort sperm more efficiently, but only for cows. By using a particular light, the sperm which are going to produce female calves are shown to look a lot brighter, a comment which brought a few laughs.
Finally, NanoSilver is a company using silver nanoparticles as anti-microbial fillings in dentistry to prevent recurring dental infections. Oddly, no-one found dentists amusing.
 
The question and answer session was almost as good as the talk. Justin promise that he would come back, if invited, to tell us more. We hope he does come back.
 
Julian Bateson
Substitute, back-up, part time, unpaid reporter
 
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