11 Jul 2012

Showcase of work by IRL

9:18 pm on 11 July 2012

Gun-mounted sensors to prevent hunting accidents and lasers to measure blood flow were some of the work showcased to a wider audience by Industrial Research on Tuesday.

The event at Lower Hutt highlighted the Crown Research Institute's closer ties with the high-tech manufacturing sector.

Guests heard from speakers such as American entrepreneurship expert, Dr Rob Adams, and got the chance to view a selection of businesses and start-ups working with IRL.

They included Hunter Safety Lab, which has tapped IRL's expertise to prevent hunting accidents.

Founder Michael Scott says his company took advantage of an offer by IRL of a scientist for a day which led to them help build the sensor and the detecting material.

Ovine Automation, which is a consortium of meat companies, has also worked with IRL to produce equipment to process stock more quickly and efficiently.

The manager Richard McColl says the marriage of industry expertise with IRL's technical expertise has worked well.

He says it shows industry and government bodies can work together.

The breadth of IRL's work was also evident by its research into developing new devices for the medical industry.

Research scientist Oliver Thompson has been working on using lasers to measure blood flow in skin and in eyes, which can help treat diabetes, and is of keen interest to clinicians.

These devices are still under development, though they have attracted some interest from firms.

Radio New Zealand's business editor says it's widely expected that IRL will be folded into the Government's new $166 million Advanced Technology Institute at some stage, partly to address criticism IRL is not where business needs it to be, mainly Auckland.

Deputy chief executive Drew Stein had no comment about the institute's future, but said IRL is hiring to boost its presence in Auckland, which is already strong, as well as Christchurch.

He said IRL is not neglecting the regions and has an active programme to talk to manufacturing firms about how it can help in centres like Napier and Timaru.