UC News - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

Jump start for great ideas

CEO of the Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce, Peter Townsend, addresses guests during the presentation of the Tech Jumpstart awards.

31 July 2012

Three UC research projects are a step closer to being transformed from an idea into a commercial reality thanks to a funding boost from the University’s Research & Innovation (R&I) unit.

Through R&I’s Tech Jumpstart competition, an initiative enabled by Kiwi Innovation Network (KiwiNet) and MBIE’s Pre-Seed Accelerator Fund, the three projects will receive up to $20,000 in funding to help with technology development. The research teams will also receive commercialisation support and access to additional funding sources for future continued development.

The successful projects, judged by R&I to have significant market potential, were:

  • A powered assistive lower-limb exoskeleton, submitted by Professor XiaoQi Chen, Julian Murphy and Dr Mervin Chandrapal (Mechanical Engineering). This exoskeleton could be used to assist a patient recovering from an injury by reducing the load on the limb; support the elderly in performing the activities of daily living; and promote recovery in a rehabilitation environment by moving the limbs of the patient along a predefined trajectory.

  • An Immersive Training/Teaching Application submitted by Dr Alfred Herritsch (Chemical and Process Engineering). This system uses immersive photographs, 2D images, text and interactive 3D models to allow users to tour a process engineering plant. The system displays four equally important representations of the process simultaneously, engaging users and enabling them to quickly build cognitive linkages of the form and function of the plant. The system has applications as an induction tool for new plant workers, as a fault-finding or diagnostics tool for operators and maintenance staff, and as a tool for occupational safety and health applications.

  • The colAR colouring book, submitted by Katy Kelly, Dr Adrian Clark, Dr Andreas Duenser and master’s student Samuel Williams (HIT Lab NZ). colAR is an augmented reality computer program that turns children’s coloured-in pictures into 3D animations. The program works like a virtual pop-up book. The PC version of colAR has proven very popular with children and this entry involves making colAR available as a commercial product for the iPad.

The winning entries for the programme were announced at an awards ceremony held at NZi3 on 26 July, which was addressed by Vice-Chancellor Dr Rod Carr and Peter Townsend, CEO of the Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce.

Research & Innovation Director Dr Nigel Johnson said it was inspiring to see UC’s researchers coming up with such exciting opportunities to contribute to the region’s economic growth following the disruptions caused by the earthquakes. The judging panel, including local entrepreneurs Dennis Chapman and Bill Lee, and College representatives, picked the winners from eight finalists.

“The winners all used innovative concepts to address a significant market need or opportunity, with a viable pathway to that market,” said Dr Johnson.       

It is intended to run the Tech Jumpstart competition again in 2013. Meanwhile, R&I staff are available to assist any UC staff member who has an idea that may be ready for transfer to a commercial entity. More information about Tech Jumpstart can be found at http://www.canterbury.ac.nz/jumpstart/.


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