Accolades for the Scion and AgriSea collaboration continue to roll in, with a Primary Industries Award won at the Kudos Awards this week at Claudelands Event Centre in Hamilton.
After two postponements due to the pandemic, the 2021 Awards finally happened on 14 September, with scientists from the Waikato/Bay of Plenty region celebrated for their creativity, passion, innovation and results.
In winning the award, sponsored by Hill Laboratories, Scion, and AgriSea were congratulated for their work building on Scion’s pulping expertise and AgriSea’s 26 years in seaweed processing, resulting in a novel seaweed hydrogel.
Scion high-value biorefineries portfolio leader Dr Stefan Hill says it was really special to attend with the team and AgriSea chief executive Clare Bradley.
“It was a wonderful night celebrating an incredible range of science. Our team is really excited to have won this award.”
Last night’s success in Hamilton comes only a month after AgriSea won the coveted NZ Hi-Tech Kamupene Māori o te Tau – Māori Company of the Year Award for 2022. The award, sponsored by Callaghan Innovation, highlighted the company’s collaborative work with Scion scientists in developing the hydrogel as part of its mission to create a high-value and sustainable seaweed industry in Aotearoa.
A casual conversation about nanocellulose from seaweed waste led to a productive partnership now spanning five years with AgriSea. As kaitiaki (guardians) of the land, the company is motivated to grow a sustainable aquaculture industry by creating new high-value products from its current waste stream processes. For Scion, the partnership with AgriSea is an example of research that focuses on developing renewable biobased products as a means for industry to tackle climate change.
Seaweed nanocellulose has unique properties not found in tree-based nanocellulose. The technology has been licensed to AgriSea to continue the development of hydrogels. Paeroa will be home to the world's first commercial seaweed nanocellulose facility at AgriSea, with the $1.5 million project creating nine new full-time roles. Scion has produced a concept design for the bio-refinery and is now working with Callaghan Innovation to develop the final design ahead of its construction.
Once up and running, the business will diversify and produce commercial volumes of nanocellulose hydrogel using leftovers from the manufacture of its seaweed-based agricultural and horticultural products – ensuring maximum value is being extracted from this sustainable resource.
There is a stable market for hydrogel products, including performance bio-composites, cosmetics, wound care and tissue engineering in New Zealand and offshore.
The Kudos Science Trust Awards are New Zealand’s most prestigious regional science awards, supporting the Waikato and Bay of Plenty’s reputation as a vital incubator for creative research discoveries and cutting-edge technology.
This region is a thriving and expanding science hub, with the highest number of scientists and laboratory technicians per capita in its workforce in New Zealand, with some of our local scientists featuring in the top 1% of most influential scientists worldwide.