MacDiarmid Science Goes Commercial

MacDiarmid scientists are motivated to research because of their passion for science. They spend their time in the pleasure of wondering about clusters of atoms, new chemical reaction pathways, the interaction of light with electrons, evanescent waves near surfaces and nuclear spin dynamics. But when that wondering and that science results in obvious utility, the pleasure is the greater for being able to share the value of our work with the world at large. When the MacDiarmid Institute was formed it set itself a goal of exploiting “pathways to knowledge uptake” in which basic research is turned to commercial ends. In part, we saw the great benefit of commercial spin-off as being through providing an additional purpose for our research training of young scientists, that they might find employment in new, science-based business in New Zealand. But also, we wanted to be able to tell of success stories, of how an investment in fundamental science, with no direct commercial intention, could, nonetheless, result in obvious economic benefit for New Zealand. The key to that success is awareness of potential, of an approach to carrying out research in which we look for opportunities and make the connections necessary to capitalise on them.

During the first two years, several science companies have developed out of research which forms part of the MacDiarmid Institute portfolio. These include “Nanocluster Devices”, New Zealand’s first nanotechnology company, emerging from the work of Simon Brown and his group at Canterbury and “HTS-110”, the company developed by Industrial Research to commercialise the high temperature superconductivity research of Jeff Tallon, Bob Buckley and other IRL scientists. Now, another company has been formed, this time from the work of Simon Hall and Michael Liu at Massey University. The company is called “Anzode” and it will exploit new zinc battery technology which allows for recharging through an inordinately larger number of cycles than existing batteries. In conjunction with the company formation is the establishment of the Massey Anzode Research Centre, headed by Dr Hall and opened on March 25 this year.

Soon, a fourth company will be formed, this time from the magnetic resonance research of scientists based at Victoria and Massey Universities. A full story on these new developments will appear in our next issue of “Interface”.

It has to be acknowledged that most of the research underpinning these companies predates the MacDiarmid Institute’s formation, but the Institute was formed to enhance the very same basic research which has led to those commercial developments. We are the proud inheritors of that research tradition and we are delighted to be closely associated with its beneficial outcomes.


Massey Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Palmerston North, Professor Ian Warrington (left), Chris Officer, Dr Simon Hall and Dr Michael Liu at the opening of he Anzde Researcj Centre at Massey University in Palmerston North.