Category Archives: In the news

The Jumpstart 2018 winners have been announced

An innovative biological treatment to overcome antibiotic resistance, a pioneering technique to create environmentally friendly, near-zero waste processes in the galvanising industry, and a diagnostic test to save mother and baby from life-threatening pre-eclampsia are among the winners in this year’s University of Canterbury (UC) Innovation Jumpstart competition.

Five prizes of $20,000 were awarded funding from KiwiNet. Additionally, technology incubators WNT Ventures and Astrolab chose two projects to receive $35,000 worth of practical services.

Innovation Jumpstart gives UC researchers from all disciplines, including arts, science, education, engineering, business and law, the opportunity to transform their ideas and research into commercial reality.

The Jumpstart competition is in its ninth year with researchers from across the university encouraged to consider how their ideas and research may hold the potential to transform into a commercial reality.

The competition was judged by a panel of entrepreneurs and industry leaders, including representatives from Callaghan Innovation, technology incubators WNT Ventures and Astrolab, UC alumni and staff.

The judges included award-winning entrepreneur and UC alumnus Dennis Chapman, entrepreneur Paul Davis, Ara Deputy Chair Elizabeth Hopkins, tech investor Greg Sitters who is a Managing Partner of Matū, a venture fund specialising in early stage science and technology startups. 

Innovation Jumpstart winners:

WNT Ventures prize:

Recovery of feedstock chemicals from dilute solution

Dr Matthew Cowan (Chemical and Process Engineering)

A novel technology for recovering unused materials from machine or industrial processes. Dr Matthew Cowan proposes creating a technology which will make producing speciality plastics and chemicals more efficient and create less waste. The recycling of waste products from these chemical reactions will create economic benefits for an international market with potential for engineering and operational jobs.

Astrolab prize:

Enzymes for controlling Gram-negative pathogenic microbes in food, medicine, and veterinary industries

Associate Professor Renwick Dobson (Biomolecular Interactions Centre, School of Biological Sciences), doctoral candidate Michael Love and Dr Craig Billington (ESR)

Innovative resistance-proof bacteria-killing enzymes that are safe to treat both humans and animals. This treatment will save lives, reduce healthcare costs and be an alternative to antibiotics as a safer and cheaper option. The application of this research will have many implications across multiple industries, creating new treatment options for infections in the medical industry, becoming a low-cost solution to untreatable on-farm bacterial disease, and being a biosecurity treatment for cross-contamination for food that is vulnerable to microbial pathogens.

New diagnostic test for life-threatening condition in pregnancy for mother and child

Dr Jennifer Crowther (Biomolecular Interactions Centre, School of Biological Sciences), Professor Mark Hampton (University of Otago), Dr Neil Pattinson (ChristchurchNZ), Associate Professor Renwick Dobson

Pre-eclampsia is a life-threatening condition for both mother and child that occurs in around 5% of all pregnancies. This diagnostic test uses a biomarker of patients presenting with altered levels of a particular protein to diagnose early in order to closely monitor symptoms and prolong the duration of the pregnancy. This illness currently has no consistent predictive testing method to identify the presence of the illness at an early-stage.

Innovative spin coating to create environmentally friendly materials

Associate Professor Mathieu Sellier (Mechanical Engineering), Dr Volker Nock and Associate Professor Shayne Gooch

A pioneering technology using a new multi-axis spin to coat items in the micro-electronics and optic industry. Associate Professor Sellier proposes a reliable and easy to use process to thin coating of curved surfaces with thin filament creating consistent results every time. This unique technology could disrupt multiple industries.

An eco-friendly solution to reuse acid waste from galvanising plants

Dr Aaron Marshall (Chemical and Process Engineering)

This innovative method recycles iron and zinc from the process of galvanising steel to protect it from corrosion, in order to save resources and recycle waste. Developed from an industry problem, this tech promises to save the industry by up to 70% of its pre-galvanising cleaning costs which could save companies hundreds of thousands each year.

Global awareness and the Gallup World Poll

Global awareness is one of UC’s graduate attributes ,and just one way you can become more globally aware is to take a look at the Gallup World Poll as it allows you to see how well Aotearoa New Zealand does relative to other countries on a wide variety of indicators.

Some examples of such comparison can be found in Associate Professor Tom Coupe’s latest column for interest.co.nz, here. 

In the column, Professor Coupe discusses  Aotearoa New Zealand’s performance in terms of housing affordability, public transportation infrastructure, gender relations, satisfaction with education, life and government.

For all this and more, check out the Gallup World Poll Database.

UC scientists mix technology, art and roleplay to show teens the earth’s power

Combining special effects, science, art and storytelling, University of Canterbury geological scientists have developed an exciting hi-tech game to help high school students understand the power of the earth.

The game, called ‘Magma Drillers Save Planet Earth’, was developed by UC volcanologist Associate Professor Ben Kennedy and geological 3D visualisation expert Dr Jonathan Davidson with help from artists, digital experts and educators. The game integrates storytelling, 3D software, video technology, holograms, comic art and geology to teach secondary school students about the inner workings of volcanoes and the role of geologists and engineers.

Students from Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Whānau Tahi in Christchurch were the first to test the game this week.

“One group jumped out of their seats celebrating when they got the right answer,” Dr Davidson says. “It was really exciting to see it all come together and see them having fun. Hopefully it inspired some of them to think about a career in science or engineering in the future.”

Dr Kennedy says the game enables the students to experience science through educated play and by becoming the stars of the game.

“The students ultimately have to work out how to ‘save the planet’ by finding and safely extracting renewable energy from a volcano,” Dr Kennedy says.

“It puts the students in the role of the geologist or engineer, saving planet earth from a potential environmental disaster.”

Dr Kennedy and Dr Davidson came up with the idea for the game while watching the 2005 disaster movie Supervolcano about a massive volcanic eruption, which used 3D imagery to show the geological processes behind the eruption.

“We thought it would be really cool to try and replicate the 3D holographic effects in the classroom, especially as a way to inspire younger kids and get them excited about geology and how it makes a difference in the world,” Dr Davidson says.

The game sees students work in teams of four to role play as scientists or engineers trying to drill into a magma chamber to extract its power. Each team member is assigned a job (geophysicist, environmental risk manager, volcanologist, or drilling engineer) and watches entertaining videos relating to their role. The team members then share their knowledge, as real scientists and engineers would, to identify such things as the location, depth and budget of the drilling. They input their answers into an online form. At the end of the game, they get to see the consequences of their proposed solution visualised in a 3D hologram. 

“Its characters are a bit silly and hopefully make the students laugh while they’re learning, but we also hope there’s some excitement,” Dr Kennedy says.

“Drilling too deep could initiate an eruption and kill everyone. But, get it right; and you can cool down the magma chamber, reduce the risk of a large eruption, make renewable energy and save the earth!”

The game was created with help from UC educational psychologist Dr Valerie Sotardi of UC’s School of Educational Studies and Leadership, teachers Ian Reeves and Georgina Barrett, artist Elizabeth Mordensky, and UC videographer Rob Stowell. The 3D visualisation used local Christchurch 3D geological software company Leapfrog to create the magma holograms.

The project received $30,000 in funding from the Unlocking Curious Minds 2017 funding round, administered by the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment. UC provided in-kind support through staff time, use of equipment and facilities.

The UC scientists hope to share the game with other schools, museums and educational centres around New Zealand.

How you can WIN the best small stories from Aotearoa New Zealand


The latest Canterbury University Press (CUP) publication, Bonsai: Best small stories from Aotearoa New Zealand, showcases carefully chiseled works that are provocative, tender and endlessly surprising, composed with precision in a form where every word counts.

Edited by leading Aotearoa New Zealand flash fiction writers Michelle Elvy, Frankie McMillan and James Norcliffe, this pioneering collection of short short works includes flash fiction, prose poetry and haibun from 165 emerging and established authors such as Bill Manhire, Selina Tusitala Marsh and Michele Leggott.

“In flash fiction, something small can be powerful; an individual’s imagination can be set free. It is a language-driven form, either subtle or fiery. Experimental in its very nature; it will surprise time and again. And it’s an equal opportunity form: new writers are as likely to shine as experienced writers,” co-editor Michelle Elvy explains.

Bonsai will be launched at the close of WORD Christchurch Festival this Sunday 2 September, 6.30pm at Scorpio Books, Christchurch. All staff and students welcome.

With book design by award-winning Aaron Beehre, Bonsai is a beautifully produced volume. Purchase your own copy of Bonsai: Best small stories from Aotearoa New Zealand from UBS (University Bookshop), or go in the draw to win a copy by answering the following question.

  1. How many stories are there in the Bonsai collection? Find a hint, here.

Please email your answer to universitypress@canterbury.ac.nz by 12 noon Wednesday 5 September. The winner will be drawn at random and announced in Intercom | Pā mai tō reo on Friday 7 September.

NASA internships now open to New Zealand students

Under a new agreement between NASA and the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), tertiary students can now apply for internships with the space administration.

Scholarships will be available for up to four successful Aotearoa New Zealand students for NASA’s June 2019 intake, courtesy of the New Zealand Space Agency. Costs associated with the internship including travel, living costs and NASA’s administrative fees will be covered under the scholarship.

The successful students will attend the Ames Centre base for a 10-16 week internship in Silicon Valley. Under the guidance of a NASA mentor, they will also have the opportunity to build a network of contacts both within the space administration, the US and the pool of other international students taking part in the programme. 

This opportunity is for high-achieving Aotearoa New Zealand students to work with experts in space-related fields and have access to some of the world’s most advanced research facilities.

The scholarship aims to support Aotearoa New Zealand’s students studying space-related activities and will give our future innovators, entrepreneurs and scientists a head-start in their careers by enabling them to develop technical skills at a world-leading space agency. 

The internship will give students access to international professional networks and develop their understanding of the global space economy. 

The application process is two-phased with candidates first being selected by the New Zealand Space Agency.

Following selection by MBIE, local  finalists will be recommended to NASA who will then choose their overall finalists from the broader pool of 12 other countries.

Applications will be open from mid-September and close mid-October. 

For more, see www.mbie.govt.nz/nasa