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Left to right: Prof. Jason Wargent (Judge), Prof. Ajmol Ali, Imche Fourie (Judge), Tomas Ribeiro (Judge)

$50,000 Massey Innovation Prize recognizes the health benefits of beetroot extract

17 December 2020

With up to $50,000 in pre-seed funding up for grabs, the inaugural Massey Innovation Prize was awarded to Prof Ajmol Ali to turn his project on the health benefits of beetroot from research to reality.

With some of the best and brightest minds, Universities are an excellent source of great ideas. Recognising this potential Massey University and Massey Ventures launched the Massey Innovation Prize – A competition for Massey staff and students to pitch their innovative ideas with a grand prize of $50,000 in pre-seed funding.

Over the years, Massey Ventures has partnered with researchers to build successful ventures, including the licensing of the Ferri Pro technology to the food giant, Nestlé. The Massey Innovation Prize was launched as a way of reinvesting back into the University to help fuel the next generation of innovators.

The competition received a broad range of commercial and not-for-profit ideas from across the University spanning Agritech; Management; Communications; Agriculture and Environment; Food and Advanced Technology; and Sport, Exercise and Nutrition. The quality of the submissions was noted by all three external judges, each with diverse experience in innovation and commercialisation, including:

  • Tomas Ribeiro – IP Manager and Patent Attorney at Otago Innovation Limited

  • Imche Fourie – Co-founder and Chief Executive of LevelTwo, deep tech incubator

  • Jason Wargent – Chief Science Officer & Founder of BioLumic Ltd

The judges awarded first place to Prof. Ajmol Ali, from the Massey School of Sport, Exercise and Nutrition. Prof. Ali entered the Massey Innovation Prize seeking funding and support to develop his research on the health benefits of beetroot juice into a commercial product. Honourable mentions were given to two teams from the MAF Digital Lab for their devices that enabled non-contact measurement of fruit and in-field monitoring of cattle weight.

Above: The teams from MAF Digital lab, submitted two entries, both receiving honourable mentions from the judges.

Above: The teams from MAF Digital lab, submitted two entries, both receiving honourable mentions from the judges.

While there could only be one winner, the participants all benefited from the presentation workshops, run by the Research and Enterprise team. In addition, all the finalists received detailed recommendations from the judges.


“The feedback and support we received from the Massey Ventures team significantly helped us to prepare the pitch; they asked the probing questions to make us think differently…” says Prof. Ali “…The judges provided excellent comments, and proposed other avenues for us to explore; their feedback will be invaluable in taking us to the next level.”

With the success of the inaugural Massey Innovation Prize, planning is already underway for 2021 with official dates yet to be announced. For more information and to find out how Massey Ventures can support your innovative research, visit or email at:

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