November 30, 2009
Some of the big ideas in science are present, including NZ's own Ernest Rutherford. One of the things I love about science is the fact that we stand on the shoulders of giants, yet have the ability to make our own contribution. Perhaps that's why the scale extends to 2050...who knows what might turn up there!
Check it out, its a fascinating site.
November 23, 2009
I blogged about this in one of my first posts on this blog, which you can read here.
As per usual there are some fantastic comments in the comments section of the article, but also some mind-boggling ones that illustrate perfectly some of the themes discussed in the article itself.
I'm glad we have people with drive and vision who are willing to step up and give it a go. Science has a big part to play in all of this, and I know from my experience as both a scientist and a junior venture capitalist that the people I work with and for do what they do because they genuinely believe that they can make a difference for everybody in this country. It angers me that when they succeed or encourage others to fulfill their potential they are labelled as 'greedy'. I couldn't agree more with comment #46, by Gareth Chaplin - the person who actually commissioned the report. The same people who criticise are the same people who lament the deficiencies in our infrastructure, health, and education systems.
If this is how the country views its innovators and their role, then the increased standard of living that we all seek, isn't going to happen any time soon.
November 11, 2009
They have recently announced an Initial Public Offering (IPO) on the New Zealand Stock Exchange (NZX) in order to raise $20 Million in capital (at $1 per share) to buy more fruit, pay off debt and to expand into the USA where some of the worlds biggest foodstuffs and nutraceuticals companies are located. They expect US FDA approval in February, which would open significant doors.
As pointed out by Andrew McDouall of McDouall Stuart, that although risky, this represents a great opportunity to get involved early with a NZ company that is making big strides. "If we waited six months they could have all the regulatory approvals but would pay more. It's a risk return trade-off. There are many investors that want to get in at the ground floor of great opportunities rather than paying top dollar from a private equity firm."
November 6, 2009
If you talk to any of the main commentators on what NZ's high tech economy requires for growth, it is geometric growth. Much in the way Neville Jordan describes in this article about the success of his old company MAS Technology leading to half a dozen employees starting their own telecommunications businesses in NZ.
If NZ is to generate the 200 new tech companies people such as Prof. Paul Callaghan talk of, we need people to do "apprenticeships in entrepreneurship", as Chris Dixon says. If you want to really make a difference to NZ as a recent graduate, working for (or even starting) a startup company is a great way to do this. The benefits of working in a startup are well documented.
Although we are not a startup company just yet, I've learnt one or two things myself this year while working at scaling up and commercialising some of our university research toward forming a startup company. That is a post for another day, however.
November 2, 2009
What was suprising to me, is that Prof. Faull and his team (plus colleagues in Sweden) were the first to discover that diseased human brain cells can regenerate - that is they have a repair pathway. We previously didn't know this (we thought once they died that was that), and as such it turned accepted knowledge on its head. The discovery was so astounding, that the research plan couldn't even be written into the original grant application for fear of rejection because it was 'dreaming'. Here is yet another case of a New Zealander conducting world class research that has ashamedly slipped under the radar.
Prof. Faull also mentioned in the article that he likes to keep the facility in NZ, because here we were small enough to remain flexible and adapt to new challenges as they arise. That reminded me of comments made by Chief Science Advisor Sir Peter Gluckman, that NZ's advantage was its small size (something that some may find hard to believe) and something that Shaun Hendy has touched on with Innovation Networks - that NZ must remain flexible enough to change to any new demands, as the Finn's did with Nokia and the mobile phone boom - that is easiest if you are small.
We like to think we punch above our weight in sport (and we do), so why don't we take this frame of mind and apply it to other areas like science and business? I know the people active in these areas most certainly do, as do I, but the whole country should take a sense of pride in people like Richard Faull and the ground breaking work they're doing.