New KiwiNet CEO appointed to lead the transformation of science

Dr James Hutchinson has been appointed chief executive of the Kiwi Innovation Network Ltd (KiwiNet), New Zealand’s national network of universities and Crown Research Institutes working together to take great science discoveries to market. He succeeds KiwiNet’s founding General Manager, Dr Bram Smith, who is moving to a private sector job.

KiwiNet’s 16 partnering organisations collaborate to increase the scale and impact of science-based innovation. Collectively, the consortium represents over 70% of New Zealand’s publicly funded scientists.

Dr Hutchinson, previously Commericalisation Manager at KiwiNet, is described as passionate about the important role that science and the scientific community have to play in growing our economy into new high-tech and knowledge-based sectors.

Dr Hutchinson says it is an exciting time to be leading KiwiNet.

“New Zealand’s high-tech capability is growing and we must be bold if we are to power this up into a globally-competitive technology sector that is driving economic growth and creating benefit for all New Zealanders. Commercialisation of our cutting-edge science and entrepreneurship holds the key, and I’m looking forward to working with all stakeholders across the system to achieve this ambition.”

Dr Hutchinson has experience in supporting research and innovation in the UK and internationally with a particular focus on the life sciences and global societal challenges.

He led a team of programme specialists to develop and implement a platform of science policy, advocacy, networking, conferences, workshops and other initiatives, working in close partnership with the international chemical science community. He is an experienced project leader who has a strong track record of working with government, industry and academia at senior levels.

Dr Hutchinson is a Junior Policy Fellow of the Centre for Science and Policy (CSaP) at the University of Cambridge, UK, having authored over 20 pieces of science policy covering strategic reports, government consultation responses and position statements. He led a successful campaign to the UK Government in 2013, on behalf of the broader chemical science community, to protect public investment in science, and has participated in several advisory groups and expert panels to government bodies and NGOs.

KiwiNet’s PreSeed investment partners have invested over $26.7 million into more than 500 projects since 2003. To date PreSeed investment (provided by the Ministry of Innnovation Business and Employment) has led to over 153 commercial deals attracting over $114 million of business investment and 27 new start-up companies. Collectively, KiwiNet’s investments into research commericalisation are generating a greater than five-fold return on investment to New Zealand and this is growing.

Dr Hutchinson is eager to build on this momentum, identifying several critical interventions that will underpin future success.

KiwiNet partner organisations include WaikatoLink, Plant & Food Research, Otago Innovation Ltd, Lincoln University, AUT Enterprises, AgResearch, University of Canterbury, Callaghan Innovation, Viclink, Landcare Research, Cawthron Institute, ESR, NIWA, Scion, GNS Science and Malaghan Institute. Principal support is also provided by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment.

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