Using old knowledge to create new products

4 April 2014

Nichola Harcourt and Garry Watson

It’s a deal: Dr Nichola Harcourt from WaikatoLink and Nga Uri o te Ngahere Trust chairman Garry Watson will work together to develop commercialization strategies for the Trust.

In a flagship project under the new Vision Matauranga placement scheme, the Ministry of Business Innovation and Enterprise has allocated $165,000 funding for Waikato scientist Dr Nichola Harcourt to work with the Nga Uri o te Ngahere Trust to translate unique indigenous knowledge into commercially feasible products. The Trust is based in Torere, Opotiki.

Dr Harcourt specialises in the commercialization of natural products for health and wellness and will work closely with Trust chair Garry Watson on the two-year project.

A collaborated effort

Dr Harcourt says the work underpins the Matauranga Māori Science Research and Technology Collaboration signed in 2012 between the Trust and University of Waikato.

“A key goal for the Trust is to use profits from commercial enterprise to invest in training programmes for rangatahi (youth) and in the ecological restoration of tribal lands,” she says. “The Trust also seeks to share its models with other roopu.”

Building capabilities

Dr Harcourt is Innovation Manager at WaikatoLink Ltd, Waikato University’s commercialization and technology transfer company. “On this project my focus will be to identify novel IP and develop commercialization strategies along with implementation of training schemes to build capability,” she says.

Under a memorandum of understanding between the Trust and the Faculty of Science and Engineering at The University of Waikato, Dr Harcourt will work in the Trust’s facilities in Torere and at the university.

Carrying its research forward

Garry Watson says the new project will allow the Trust to build internal capacity to carry its research forward. “And the trust is grateful for the support the University and the Ministry have given to the project.”

The Vision Mātauranga scheme was established to create greater connectivity in and outside the science system, to encourage networking, upskilling and capacity to increase the support needed for growth between the science system and Māori organisations and communities.

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