University of Auckland: Bioengineers cutting to the high-tech chase

Three companies spun out of the Auckland Bioengineering Institute (ABI) are finalists in the 2021 NZ Hi-Tech Awards, which recognise outstanding innovation, contribution and success in New Zealand’s hi-tech sector.


Formus Labs has developed the world’s first AI-automated 3D planner for joint replacement surgeries, providing surgeons with unprecedented insight into the pre-op planning process.
ABI spinouts, Alimetry and Stretch Sense, are finalists in the Most Innovative Hi-tech Hardware Product category, Alimetry and Formus Labs in the Most Innovative Deep Tech Solution category, and Alimetry in the Most Innovative Hi-Tech Creative Technology Solution category.

Two of the companies, Alimetry and Formus Labs are located on the ABI’s Cloud 9, set up on the 9th floor of the Institute as a space to nurture ABI spin-outs where fledging companies are independent of the University but can draw on the expertise and advice of researchers in the same building, including former research supervisors.

StretchSense manufactures sensors based on artificial muscle technology for the unobtrusive measurement of human body motion. Formus Labs provides orthopaedic intelligence for implant manufacturers and clinicians through an AI-cloud platform, and has developed the world’s first AI-automated 3D planner for joint replacement surgeries, providing surgeons with unprecedented insight into the pre-op planning process. Alimetry is developing tools and techniques to improve understanding of the gastrointestinal system and the diagnosis and treatment of gut disorders.

ABI has an established history of fostering its spin-outs – 40 percent of the University of Auckland spinouts in the last 10 years have come out of ABI research. This recently inspired the formation of Cloud 9, to foster research translation and entrepreneurship in the Institute.

“This is recognition of the research groups at the ABI, from where these companies have spun out– the research covering many years, of the gastrointestinal and musculoskeletal systems, and the biomimetic lab,” says Dr Diana Siew, Strategic Relationship Lead, ABI.

ABI is a world-leading research institute that aims to improve medical diagnosis and treatment of injury and disease, through the application of engineering sciences and technical innovation to medicine and human physiology. “And as this year marks the 20th anniversary since the ABI was founded, this is a fitting birthday present,” says Dr Siew

Winners will be announced at the NZ High-Teach Awards Gala on 28 May.

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