MacDiarmid Institute supports tech-transfer with new Internship

MacDiarmid Institute supports tech-transfer with new Internship

For most new companies, getting the right staff on board is important.  For high-tech start-up companies, it is vital.

The smooth transfer of technology from a research institution can be a challenge for a new company. This was a problem facing Hi-Aspect, a new MacDiarmid start-up that had developed protein-based nanomaterial for use in skincare products and wound dressings.  Hi-Aspect needed specific skills to take the science from the lab through to production.  Thanks to a new MacDiarmid Institute Internship, Hi-Aspect have been able to employ a new PhD graduate with expertise in their science.

 Hi-Aspect CEO Dr George Slim explains.

“We had developed an exciting new technology and a likely market, but needed specific skills at a time when our finances were really tight.   The MacDiarmid Internship meant we could bring a new PhD graduate straight on – instantaneously.  Without this, we would have struggled to employ someone at this stage of our development.”

Dr Slim says the new PhD, Manmeet Kaur, had exactly the skills they needed.

“Manmeet had done her PhD with MacDiarmid Principal Investigator Professor Juliet Gerrard so knew everything about the science and the products.  She was perfectly suited to come on board and help us take the science and the company to the next level.”

Protein nanofibrils

Protein nanofibrils

And for Dr Kaur, the MacDiarmid Internship gave her the opportunity to continue working in her area of study. 

“Often the excitement of completing a PhD is tinged with concern about what to do next.  The internship gave me job security and the chance to keep working in an area directly relevant to what I did in my PhD.”

Dr Slim says the MacDiarmid Internship has other advantages.

“As well as ‘de-risking’ the whole start-up process for us, it keeps the PhD graduate in New Zealand, so that New Zealand continues to benefit from the investment the government has already made in that person’s education.”

“As a country, we often talk about tech transfer – how to move technology into industry – and this is a great example.  Over 70% of PhD graduates move out of academia.  This gives them an exciting potential route to keep working in their area of expertise.”

And for Dr Kaur, the future is looking good.  Hi-Aspect have already extended her internship for a further six months.

You can read more about Hi-Aspect on pp 40 and 41 of our annual report  or on their website.