Surviving the Dragons Den!
The MacDiarmid Institute is full of great ideas but……… how do you take the next step to making them a commercial realty?
Yiwen, Ben and Alec were fortunate to be able to do this in a MacDiarmid sponsored initiative. Each of them took an Institute idea along to a University of Canterbury MEM (Master of Engineering Management) workshop where they worked with a team (usually four) of engineers in assessing the ideas for their commercial viability and then presenting the results to a team of judges (The Dragons).
Nanocoatings for various products were popular and represented two of the three MacDiarmid ideas. Yiwen’s team assessed the potential of polymer carbon nanoparticles for smart polymers coatings (an idea from Prof David William’s group at Auckland University) in the development of Microfluidic and Lab-on-a-chip (LOC) devices
Ben and his team worked with an initiative from Prof Alison Downard’s group at Canterbury University on producing nanocoatings for latex gloves to minimise allergic reactions. In the meantime Alec’s group was working on a market validation study for a wet-air oxidation process for transforming organic sludge from waste water treatment into useful products (a process developed in Prof Jim Johnson’s lab at Victoria University).
Your correspondent understands that this was a very big week with the teams regularly working into the small hours of the morning. On the other hand it was noted that the pizza and also the craft beers at the Kirkwood Arms appeared to be greatly appreciated.
Comments from the team on their experience included:
“I had a great time all up and found the whole experiencing eye opening. The most enjoyable part to me was seeing how all the teams tackled the problems and worked together. This is something that is a little different than you see in a research team or as a PhD student.” Alec La Grow
“During the workshop, I enjoyed the inspirational discussions with MEM students who have different insights of the product and market. This workshop motivates me to learn more about commercialization and marketing strategies.” Yiwen Pei
“Working together in a team of people who’ve been learning about commercialisation all year was a really unique experience. It makes you realise how much work it is for these people to gain the skills and knowledge needed to make a new technology into a successful business.” Benjamin Wylie-van Eerd