This year we have successfully transitioned a change in leadership, with Geoff Todd handing the baton to me as Chief Executive Officer, as he gradually phases out of his managing director role and into semi-retirement at the end of March 2019.
Two new appointments were made to the Viclink Board, with David Smol replacing Professor Kate McGrath as Chair—after Kate took up a new role overseas—and Professor Margaret Hyland, Vice-Provost (Research), joining as a Board member.
The Intellectual Property Commercialisation team grew significantly and has gone from strength to strength, securing significant project funding and opportunities. We’ve had really positive feedback from the university’s researchers about just how meaningful and useful the team’s work has been for them as they explore commercialisation as a potential pathway to translating their research outcomes. In addition, we have continued to work closely with the University’s Research Office, providing them with intellectual property management and commercial translation support to strengthen research funding bids with great success.
Our International Development and Knowledge Services teams have also blossomed, their hard work from previous years coming to fruition with six new development contracts secured in 2018. By identifying, developing and then delivering on strategic new offshore business opportunities that link with the University’s capabilities, these teams are delivering impact for the University from a wider range of faculty and research areas than we have previously reached, and strengthening our track record in key areas, especially education.
Accent Learning—part of the Knowledge Services team—has continued to focus its efforts on rolling out the Finnish anti-bullying programme KiVa to schools across New Zealand, and on building partnerships with organisations such as the Human Rights Commission and Barnados. The programme, which aligns perfectly with the government’s commitment to prioritising children’s well-being, offers a practical solution to a very serious problem.
2018 was also the year we formed a game-changing new partnership with New Zealand financial services company Booster, which will see Booster invest at least $10 million in businesses spun out of Victoria University of Wellington’s world-leading research. It marks the first time a New Zealand financial institution has joined forces with a university to invest in its start-up companies, and will transform how we grow and support them.
KiwiNet also continued to help us grow our commercialisation projects—funding 16 over the past 12 months—and we are awaiting the outcome of a full investment pitch to the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund in Australia relating to an exciting new drug development.
Student entrepreneurship has grown to the point where our Student Entrepreneurship Manager, Emily Sullivan, is handing on her marketing responsibilities in 2019 in order to focus full time in this crucial area. A fantastic new initiative for 2018 saw us working with Return on Science and KiwiNet to deliver the first student project investment committee (Momentum) in Wellington, providing advice and mentoring, as well as access to a $100,000 seed fund to support early-stage student start-ups.
As I’ve only touched on a few of the highlights here, I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to our growth this year—and there are so many of you. Viclink is of the university, for the university, so when Viclink succeeds, it’s a shared success.
Wishing you all a safe and festive holiday break.
Dr Anne Barnett
Chief Executive Officer