Unlimited’s report on Australasian University Research and Development Commercialisation puts New Zealand ahead of Europe but behind the US.

Professor Phillip Butler of Canterbury University and his son Dr Anthony Butler commends early stage funds for the role they play in catalysing ventures and bringing skills contacts and experience to startup ventures. “I’ve been in the university system for less than ten years, and even in that short time I’ve noticed a cultural shift,” Anthony says. “It’s no longer the view among academics that you only get involved in commercialisation to make money. There’s now a recognition that if you have a good idea or product and you want it to have an impact on society, then you need to take it through to commercialisation.”

Phil Butler says the development of technology transfer organisations such as Canterprise and UniServices at Auckland has been essential to help spinout companies like theirs get cracking.He is also of the view that New Zealand leads Europe on commercialisation, while lagging behind the US. “There are a variety of mechanisms out there now and I think that variety is a strength.”

Yet there is still plenty of room for improvement, according to the Butlers. The notion that the process of commercialisation involves two distinct phases in which the scientists step aside for the money men is a persistent fallacy, Anthony says.

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