Biotech awards recognise NZ talent

Animal health research company, Argenta, this week won the 2010 NZBIO emerging company of the year award for its rapid international growth in an area of “sophisticated biotech manufacturing”.Judging Committee member Doug Wilson said the company worked with a low-risk, high-reward model and exported tens of millions of dollars a year.“It serves as a robust example of the potential rewards for New Zealand biotech companies when their model is correct and their business strategy is implemented effectively.”

Animal health research company, Argenta, this week won the 2010 NZBIO emerging company of the year award for its rapid international growth in an area of “sophisticated biotech manufacturing”.

Judging Committee member Doug Wilson said the company worked with a low-risk, high-reward model and exported tens of millions of dollars a year.

“It serves as a robust example of the potential rewards for New Zealand biotech companies when their model is correct and their business strategy is implemented effectively.”

The company and its US-based subsidiary, AlcheraBio, offer research and development (including clinical trial and regulatory stability and submissions) through to commercial (animal health) product manufacture to both start-up firms and large multi-national pharmaceutical companies worldwide.

Argenta supplies animal health products to 59 countries worldwide.

NZBIO chief executive Bronwyn Dilley said Argenta’s success proved New Zealand could grow world first, world-class companies.

Biotechnologist of the year

The Ross Clark distinguished biotechnologist of the year award went to John McEwan of AgResearch, for his use of modern genomics to develop commercial tests for identifying sheep traits otherwise difficult to detect.

The judging panel said the applied research was having a significant financial impact on sheep farming in New Zealand and helping the industry to maintain its competitiveness.

Young biotechnologist of the year

Massey University’s Wayne Patrick won the young biotechnologist of the year award – presented to a scientist under 40 years old whose work demonstrates potential for future leadership.

Dr Patrick won the award for his work on research and development in DNA ligase enzymes.

“The research in my lab group addresses fundamental questions about the evolution of enzyme structure and function, and we use that fundamental understanding to help us engineer biomolecules with new or improved functions,” he said.

“This award is an acknowledgement that biotechnological innovation can come from fundamental research, and I am excited that we here in New Zealand recognise that fact.”