Category Archives: Research & Innovation

Intelligent Automation empowering University staff

For the past seven months, the University of Canterbury (UC) has been undergoing an extensive Intelligent Automation programme that has seen 11 process improvements through building software robots that complete manual, repetitive, high volume tasks. UC has been building an internal team to identify and improve business processes from various departments including Finance, HR, Student Services and Academic Colleges.

UC’s approach to intelligent automation has been exemplary, PwC Director Matthew Whitaker says. “The culture UC has grown to support this programme has led to innovative uses of automation from a technology solution application perspective but more importantly UC has cultivated the human led thinking to drive the opportunity identification and solutioning that is not constrained by a single technology to achieve the outcome.”

The programme is part of achieving a key theme in UC’s 10 year strategy, organisational efficacy. By building robots to complete the manual, repetitive tasks, it empowers staff to complete more value-added work. Already approximately 7,000 hours are to be saved per annum through automation and process improvement.  

UC CFO Keith Longden is impressed with the programme and believes the programme will bring a wide range of benefits to the university.

“There’s been a realisation on how beneficial RPA can be, and how it can apply to part of a process and not the whole process. Because of the success, it’s made it easier to open doors in other areas of the university. Teams have seen that their own process has been looked at by the university, so they’ve felt more valued.”

The robot squad so far:

  • BUCK: Validates differences in pay for staff
  • Reubot: Reconciling the daily bank statement
  • Manwell: Registers students to the recreation centre
  • Murray: Transfers data from various systems into Dynamics 365 (CRM Tool)
  • RoboMatt: Calculating and processing agent commission payments
  • HireMe: Onboards new staff administration through Peoplesoft
  • PayMe: Invigilator timesheets entry
  • AutoBnB: Processes applications for student accommodation to send to students’ hall of first preference
  • Unicorn: Contract Management

More information on each process completed so far can be found on the UC Intranet

If you know of any processes you think would be great to automate, please get in touch with the automation team at:

Geospatial Research Institute Seminar: Saving your life, without you even knowing it

Join us on 27 March to hear from Steve Abley and Chris Morris from Abley Limited talk about the “MegaMaps” tool – Saving your life, without you even knowing it.

New Zealand now has a tool especially developed to identify high risk locations for safety interventions: The Safer Journeys Risk Assessment Tool or “MegaMaps”. This tool, will help to reduce the horrific financial and emotional cost of road fatalities.

“MegaMaps”, has been developed by Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency with the assistance of Abley Limited. Steve and Chris, will explain The Safer Journeys Risk Assessment Tool or “MegaMaps”, how it came to exist and why it is unique nationally and globally.

This seminar will be of interest to students, academics, practitioners involved in data analytics as well as road safety practitioners.

Come for a networking free lunch at 12:30 pm, followed by our guest talk at 1:00 pm.
Haere mai!  All are welcome!

Location: University of Canterbury, Ernest Rutherford building, room 263

Please sign up (free) via the Eventbrite link so that we can accommodate for catering:

UC Business School Social Impact Presentation

UC Business School Logo

The UC Business School Research Committee has recently supported the creation of a ‘Social Impact Group’. The group exists to support multi-disciplinary research that focuses on social well-being, welfare and external impact.

This seminar will be an opportunity to share the kaupapa and vision for this group. We will also share some early ideas of growing the group’s ability to generate external funding and support for research that has a well-being focus.

We encourage anyone working in a similar area to come to the hui to see what is happening so far and learn how they can be a part of the group’s ongoing passion for this type of research. We have no methodological boundaries or specific focus on unit of analysis at this stage. Micro, meso or macro level research is all welcome.

The group is co-directed by Prof. Ekant Veer and Dr. Ann-Marie Kennedy and is open to new members of any level who wish to be part of this type of research and engagement community on campus.

The seminar will include morning tea. Please RSVP to for catering purposes. Please note, this is a UC Business School venture and not aligned with any other research group processes.

Day:               Wednesday 18 March 2020
Time:             10-11am
Venue:          Meremere 236, 2nd floor, College of Business and Law
RSVP:            Please rsvp to this email invitation by 9 March to

“Language loss and revitalisation” Association of Commonwealth Universities newsletter

The ACU Review is now available online, celebrating and showcasing the remarkable work of universities across the Commonwealth and their contribution to the world around them.

Our first issue focuses on endangered languages and how ACU members are working with indigenous communities to protect and preserve our planet’s linguistic diversity. Read the first issue here.

We’d love to hear your feedback! Write to us at

Food for Thought | December 2019

Food for Thought was a series of lunchtime events in the city in which UC academics delivered 15-minute talks covering a range of topics from biology in space to the importance of volunteering in schools.

The events have been a fun way to engage with people in the city and share the exciting research taking place at UC that’s making an impact across Ōtautahi Christchurch and beyond.

There will be a video released shortly capturing the highlights from the events. Thank you to those who took part, and to those who made it along to the events to enjoy some inspiring talks (and delicious food) on your lunch break!

Day three saw Associate Professor Billy O’Steen speak about why volunteering in schools is especially important for Aotearoa New Zealand.
Professor Richard Jones spoke about a forensic brainwave analysis project going on at UC.

Sarah Kessans spoke about biology in space and ways that exploring life in space brings benefit to life on Earth.

A great example of working together as one – Kotahitanga – to pull off a successful series of events showcasing exciting projects and research taking place at UC.