Dr Will Barker has been appointed as the new Board Chair to steer the organisation as it continues to create benefits for New Zealand through publicly-funded research commercialisation. An independent board member since 2018, Dr Barker, Founder and CEO of Mint Innovation, advisor and company director, succeeds Ngaio Merrick.
KiwiNet has also appointed two new members to its board: Katherine Sandford, CEO of electric adventure vehicle company UBCO, and Amanda Davies, innovation manager at Crown Research Institute, Scion.
KiwiNet is the combined power of 19 of New Zealand’s universities, Crown Research Institutes, and other research organisations, working together to transform early-stage discoveries into products and services that will have a social, environmental, cultural, and economic impact for Aotearoa New Zealand.
Retiring KiwiNet Chair Ngaio Merrick, who served for seven years on the KiwiNet board (four as Chair) has overseen KiwiNet as a collective support more than 830 new projects, launch 35 start-up companies and create a further $225 million in financial returns for New Zealand.
Merrick, the Managing Partner at Nuance Connected Capital and Portfolio and Investment Manager at Lewis Holding, says chairing the KiwiNet Board has been an exciting and educational journey.
“It has been a great pleasure to learn from the extraordinary people within Aotearoa’s public research organisations who care deeply about what science has to offer and turn ideas into reality,” she says.
KiwiNet CEO Dr James Hutchinson says KiwiNet will benefit greatly from Will’s leadership and expertise.
“We are thrilled to work alongside Will. His depth of experience will advance our work as we support even more scientific discoveries to market, where they can create longstanding social, environmental, and economic impact for our country and the world. We are also delighted to welcome Katherine and Amanda to the KiwiNet board - both are highly accomplished and we look forward to their contributions,” he says.
Amanda Davies, innovation manager at Scion, has also been appointed to the board as a Crown Research Institute representative director. She brings a deep understanding of the commercialisation ecosystem, having overseen the allocation of the PreSeed funding as a KiwiNet Investment Committee member.