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FERRI PRO technology to address global iron deficiency recognised as KiwiNet Finalist

FERRI PRO technology to address global iron deficiency recognised as KiwiNet Finalist

01 September 2020

The sale of the Ferri Pro intellectual property to international food and beverage company Nestlé is recognised as one of twelve finalists in the 2020 Kiwinet Awards. The eighth annual KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards are designed to celebrate impact from science through successful research commercialisation within New Zealand’s universities, Crown Research Institutes and other research organisations.

The Ferri Pro sale is nominated under the ‘PwC Commercial Impact’ category. This award celebrates excellence in research commercialisation delivering outstanding innovation performance and the potential for generating significant economic impact for New Zealand.

Scientists from the Riddet Institute, a Centre of Research Excellence hosted at Massey University, developed a unique technology (Ferri Pro) to help address global iron deficiency, a problem that effects more than 1.6b people around the globe. Anaemia effects 25-30% of the population and about half of the cases are due to iron deficiency. The novel protein-iron complex, made using food-grade materials, enables fortification of food products and beverages without compromising the quality and taste, a common problem with many other fortification methods.

The commercialisation process involved engaging with Nestlé headquarters in Switzerland, establishing an exclusive trial period and ultimately negotiating the sale of the intellectual property. The negotiation involved face to face meetings in Switzerland and regular video conferencing over an 18 month period. The final agreement, signed in December 2018, involves the assignment of the IP to Nestlé in exchange for payments against technology transfer, commercial launch and regulatory milestones. By using a risk sharing model we were able to substantially increase the potential value to Massey.

In January 2019 a senior delegation from Nestlé headquarters visited Palmerston North to better understand the capability and capacity of the Riddet Institute, Massey University and the wider science system through Food HQ. The Riddet Institute presented a portfolio of 19 other market informed R&D projects. The close working relationship with the world’s largest food company could provide significant and on-going benefit to New Zealand.

Winners of the Kiwinet Award categories will be announced at an evening reception on 15 October in Auckland.

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