Revolution Fibres, an Auckland company that uses nanotechnology to make super strong fibres—in particular, for air filters for household ventilation systems, high strength fishing rods and fabric to enhance skin healing—claimed the supreme prize at the 2012 New Zealand Innovators Awards. And in the categories most relevant to the marketing community, Syrp's Genie, Kiwibank's online relationship management, The Gibson Group's TouchHistory innovation, audio/text fusion Booktrack, virtual world SmallWorlds, paperless receipts company Paperkut and The Nutter's Club also took home prizes.
Revolution Fibres has developed its own technologies for the industrial production of nanofibre. The company uses a process called electrospinning to create functional fibres with diverse characteristics, such as high surface area, increased strength, energy production and more. And with a global market for nanofibre products growing from US$80 million in 2009 to a projected US$2.2 billion by 2020, Revolution Fibres is in the right place at the right time.
The company has made production-scale nanofibre a reality in New Zealand, showing performance advantages and marketability in the sectors of air filtration, cosmetics and composites. It’s continuing its R&D in carbon fibre, composite reinforcements and acoustics, to name a few areas.
Judges were impressed, saying the business had a lot of potential with its innovative manufacturing.
“They have come up with a new manufacturing process and are addressing new market opportunities,” said one judge.
Revolution Fibres also won the Innovation in manufacturing category.
Kiwibank took the marketing crown for its online relationship managers, which the evaluators said was "an outstanding example of customer driven innovation. A complex innovation project implemented to improve the customer experience, engagement and retention, with a compelling return on investment."
As it says on the website: "Your Online Relationship Manager lives in your internet banking – you can ask them anything and they’ll get back to you within 24 hours. Every Kiwibank personal banking customer will have one soon – all you have to do is be registered for internet banking. They might also help you out from time to time with suggestions or special offers tailored just for you – they’re constantly looking for ways to save you time and money. And if they can’t answer a question directly, they’ll set you up with the person who can."
The awards, organised by Bayer New Zealand, Idealog and Ideas Accelerator, attracted a record 152 entries.
"The Innovators Awards have revealed a thriving innovation culture that runs across the length and breadth of the country," says Bayer New Zealand managing director Patricia Castle.
Innovation in Marketing and Communications
Winner: Kiwibank, Online Relationship Managers
Kiwibank is the first bank in the world to offer a relationship manager via online to its entire personal customer base.
It has built a digital service to allow 24-hour issue delegation across mobile, tablet and desktop and integrated its core values into its service offering.
Innovation in Design and Engineering
Winner: Syrp, Genie
'Genie' is a new product with an easy to use device for motion control and image capture in time lapse photography. Genie is a motion control time lapse device. What that means is that the Genie connects to your camera and with the press of just a few buttons it captures images which are later compiled into a time lapse video.
Genie targets the independent film maker bringing high end motion control at an affordable independent filmmaker's price. With a growing international distribution network and orders from the likes of National Geographic, Discovery Channel and BBC, the future is looking bright for Genie and Syrp.
Innovation in Information and Communications Technology
Winner: The Gibson Group, TouchHistory
Think of a big 40ft container in a city plaza opened up on its side with a massive touch screen the whole length and height. People touching the screen to travel through history or geography exploring thousands of images , facts and stories in real time; even sending e-postcards from this beautiful, endless 3-D landscape of their city.
That is Touch History's showcase wall that lives in Copenhagen, outside, winter and summer. It's a mobile exhibition that invites people to explore the past, present and future of their city. The Copenhagen project is a world first.
Innovation in Media, Music and Entertainment
Booktrack combines books and sound track – hence the name.
This revolutionary product adds synchronized sound effects and music to match emotions of the book. Think of the transition of silent movies to talkies. Booktrack is taking reading to a new future.
Highly Commended: 3i Innovations with Inductive Powered Lighting
Innovation in Hospitality, Food and Beverage
Winner: Oritain Global Limited
Oritain is a system that independently and scientifically certifies the origin of food. Much more than traceability, Oritain has pioneered a commercial food origin system. It 'fingerprints' the world's food supply providing certainty of origin and restore people's trust in the food.
Oritain's customers are international companies in milk, apples, beef, coffee, honey, wool fibre, wine and olive oil.
Innovation in Environment and Agriculture
Winner: Outpost Central, Outpost Wasp
Outpost Wasp is a smart water meter and sensor that connects to the Outpost web platform using the mobile phone network. 80 per cent of revenue is from exports with customers in Australia, Canada, Philippines, Cyprus, Africa and the UK.
Outpost is dealing with scarcity of water, a growing political priority. Watch these guys as they continue on their goal to become the global market leader.
Highly Commended: Compac Sorting Equipment with Compac Small Fruit Sorter
Innovation in Health and Science
Winner: Canterbury Scientific, Hemoglobin A1c Controls
Canterbury Scientific has developed a 'control', Hemoglobin A1c controls – a product that ensures the reliability and calibration of instruments used in blood test analysis. Their Control is prized by global healthcare giants like Roche and Siemens and as a result is relied upon by thousands of people around the world to help manage their diabetes.
Canterbury Scientific has nurtured a great idea from the 1990s to a solid, quality, fast revenue growing product today – a niche product in a rapidly expanding global market.
Innovation in Manufacturing
Winner: Revolution Fibres
Innovation in Sustainability and Cleantech
Winner: Powersmart Solar, Tokelau Renewable Energy Project
Powersmart Solar, from Mount Maunganui, will enable Tokelau to be the first country to meet 100% of their climate change obligations as well as the first 100% solar powered nation in the world.
The Toeklau project is Powersmart Solar's largest project to date. It involves 4032 solar panels, 392 inverters and 1344 batteries. The project has given them the leverage for more investment including into a new operation in Central America.
People’s Choice (product)
People’s choice (person)
Winner: James Riddell, Outpost Central,
People’s choice (company/organisation)
Most Inspiring Individual
Winner: Alison Stewart, Biopesticides for Healthy Plants
Professor Alison Stewart has dedicated the past 25 years of research to delivering bio control products to help meet increasing consumer demand for pesticide-free produce. She has identified naturally occurring microbes with multiple attributes that can be exploited for plant health benefits.
Alison's research has seen five commercialized products to date, along with a pipeline of at least another seven. Her work in this industry has placed New Zealand as a global leader in biotechnology and well placed to meet the increasing demand for biological products.
Winner: PAPERKUT Paperless Receipts
PAPERKUT founder Drew Broadley wants less dead trees and more efficiency – starting with paperless receipts to help free your wallet. Paperkut is a white-label paperless receipt platform which aggregates receipts by connecting with high street retailers, online stores/services, public transport systems, and point of sale systems.
Highly Commended: Professor B. Robinson, Otago University, Intelligent Polymer Gels
Supreme New Zealand Innovator
Winner: Revolution Fibres
- This is an edited version of a story that originally appeared on idealog.co.nz.