Avalia's Winning Ways

Victoria University of Wellington’s success in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and manufacturing (STEMM) is growing, with two winners in the 2016 Technology Valley Awards.


Victoria University biotechnology spin-out company Avalia Immunotherapies won Emerging Business of the Year, and Victoria graduate Jessie Bird took first place in the Emerging Individual category.


Vice-Provost (Research) Professor Kate McGrath says the result is a fantastic achievement for the University.


“The two winners demonstrate a great deal of promise in their fields and are producing outstanding work. I’m proud to congratulate Avalia Immunotherapies and Jessie Bird, and everyone who has contributed to their success.”


The Technology Valley Awards recognise and celebrate outstanding individuals and businesses who excel in the areas of STEMM.


The Emerging Business of the Year Award is awarded to an outstanding business that has been operating in the STEMM field for less than five years.


Avalia Immunotherapies, located in the Gracefield Innovation Quarter in Lower Hutt, was founded last year by Viclink (the University’s commercialisation office), the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research and Powerhouse Ventures Limited.


The company is developing a novel vaccine therapy to support the treatment of cancer and other diseases. It seeks to commercialise the vaccine technology, which is based on the work of Victoria’s Ferrier Research Institute, in collaboration with the Malaghan Institute and the University of Otago.


The Emerging Individual award is given to an individual early in their STEMM career who is showing leadership in their field of expertise.


Jessie Bird, who recently completed her Master’s in Biomedical Science at Victoria, has been working on a project in a collaboration between her Lower Hutt based-employer AQUI-S and Victoria’s Ferrier Research Institute.


In her role as process chemist, Jessie has been developing a manufacturing process for an aquatic anaesthetic that has worldwide commercial potential in the fish farming industry. The project also won the STEMM Project of the Year category.


This is the second year of the Technology Valley Awards, which have been celebrated as part of Lower Hutt’s Hutt STEMM Festival which runs from 4–12 June 2016.


Photo credit: Masanori Udagawa