Wine testing device gets commercialisation boost

A University of Canterbury PhD candidate is fast tracking the commercialisation of a wine testing device with help from the KiwiNet Emerging Innovator Programme.

Daniel Mak is completing a cross-discipline PhD in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Biology, and was named a recipient of Kiwinet’s Emerging Innovator Programme.

“I am really excited for this opportunity to work on the commercialisation of my research. I think it is important for scientific research to have a tangible benefit to society, and commercialisation is one way to achieve that”, Mak says.

Mak’s project will develop autonomous, hand-held, Lab-on-a-Chip devices that can perform complex chemical and biochemical reactions to replace traditional laboratory tests for a range of wine analytes.

Working alongside the University of Canterbury’s Professor Renwick Dobson and Associate Professor Volker Nock, and Dr Tanya Rutan from the Bragato Research Institute, a research centre that drives world-leading innovation for the New Zealand wine industry, the team’s solution cuts out the need for large, complex equipment and simplifies the testing methods.

The key to their innovation is the capillary aspect of the devices. Advantages of the capillary technology is that it requires minimal user interaction and equipment, which lowers the cost of testing and provides quick results.

Along with Mak’s Emerging Innovator award, the team won the 2021 University of Canterbury Innovation Jumpstart Award for the Greatest Global Impact category, an annual commercialisation competition run by Research and Innovation, receiving $20,000 for their project Capillary microfluidic assays for improved testing in the wine industry.

KiwiNet’s Emerging Innovator Programme provides $10,000 funding for early stage career scientists to “build industry connections and demonstrate a proof-of-principle of a disruptive new invention”.

Mak will be given a commercial mentor and access to workshops to boost his commercialisation skills.