Waikato and Synthase Biotech form research partnership

16 June 2017

Front: Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Professor Bruce Clarkson and Synthase Executive Chairman Mark Backhaus Back: Professor Vic Arcus, and from Synthase Kirsty Kraakman, Steve Hodgkinson and Alex Hennebry

The University of Waikato and Synthase Biotech have signed a binding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that provides a foundation to work collaboratively on important scientific and technological research with clear commercial targets.

The MoU, signed by University of Waikato Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Professor Bruce Clarkson and Synthase Executive Chairman Mark Backhaus, will strengthen a long-standing collaboration between the University and Synthase, underpinning joint research in industrial enzymology.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Professor Bruce Clarkson says the MoU formalises an ongoing relationship with Synthase, which will benefit Waikato students, staff and the wider community.

“The MoU will provide an excellent platform to strengthen our partnership with Synthase, enhancing our ability to work together on a long-term programme of research in the future,” says Professor Clarkson.

The research will initially focus on enhancing Synthase’s AloxsynTM proprietary enzyme technology, with a plan to develop fast, efficient and stable enzymes for a range of commercial applications. The University will contribute leading research expertise in this area while Synthase will provide insights into industry needs and a channel to market for commercial enzyme technology, and co-invest in research and intellectual property protection.

“We hold the University of Waikato in great esteem,” says Mr Backhaus. “Professor Arcus and his team are a veritable scientific powerhouse and a remarkable IP-generating engine. This relationship will endure for decades and is going to be absolutely remarkable.”

“It has genuine potential to generate significant wealth,” says Synthase Executive Director Dr Andrew West.

In past collaborations, Synthase has worked with Professor Arcus in the University’s enzyme engineering laboratory, investing in projects and students, some who have gone on to join Synthase as employees.

Synthase is a New Zealand company established in 2015 to commercialise technologies to control oxidative damage to lipids in biological systems. Synthase is currently commercialising an enzyme that has strong specificity and high rates of reaction against toxic lipid peroxides, which result from oxidative stress in cells. This addresses a major pathway by which degenerative processes and cell death occur. Synthase's proprietary bioactive AloxsynTM is a unique solution to address those degenerative processes.

Related stories


Sir William and Lady Judi Gallagher announce further support for University of Waikato with new scholarship

Hamilton philanthropists Sir William and Lady Judi Gallagher will fund eight new scholarships a year…

Dr Adam Hartland

Waikato climate researchers develop device sold to universities around the world

Waikato researchers unlocking keys to climate change hidden in the drip water from inside New…

Satellite image of Lake Rotoehu

European Space Agency satellites used to diagnose health of Bay of Plenty lakes

Satellite images from the European Space Agency are being used to diagnose the health of…

Kim Pickering

Researchers make building materials from waste saving money and the environment

As housing construction costs skyrocket and building materials are in short supply, University of Waikato…

te tohu paetahi programme

Pioneering Te Tohu Paetahi Māori language programme celebrates 30 years for Te Wiki o te Reo Māori

The University of Waikato’s pioneering total immersion Māori language programme, Te Tohu Paetahi, is celebrating…

NMR Rototuna

New $1.5 million spectrometer boosts research capacity

A recent arrival at the University of Waikato will play a vital research role in…

Professor Bruce Clarkson

Waikato researchers receive massive boost for environmental projects

Researchers from the University of Waikato will now be able to advance projects to model…

Campaign image 2

World’s first Bachelor of Climate Change launched at University of Waikato

The world’s first Bachelor of Climate Change degree has been launched by the University of…


Fish detector dogs helping to sniff out pest fish in Waikato and Bay of Plenty lakes

There’s some fishy business going on in the Schools of Science and Psychology at the…


Pacific alumnus at home with engineering

Fogamoni Nicc Moeono finished his high school years in Samoa with a “blurred image” of…

Hannah Robinson and Ashlee Cooper, two of the six Sparling Travel Award recipients

Six University of Waikato Environmental Science students receive Sparling Travel Award

Six masters and doctoral students have been given the opportunity to travel throughout New Zealand…

Group photo

Inspiring more Māori students into science and technology career pathways

Hundreds of Māori high school students will soon be inspired to take up STEMM subjects…