University spinout tech companies recognised in national awards

Three hi-tech businesses based on university research earn national accolades.

Professor Greg O’Grady, chief executive of Alimetry and honorary academic at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute.

Three tech companies spun out of research from Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of Auckland, have been recognised for outstanding innovation, contribution, and success at the 2022 NZ Hi-Tech Awards.

Alimetry and StretchSense emerged from the Auckland Bioengineering Institute (ABI) and Kara Technologies was launched from the University’s incubator programme VentureLab in 2017.

Alimetry, which makes advanced clinical solutions for investigating gastric disorders has taken home a record three awards at New Zealand’s most prestigious Hi-Tech Awards: the Endace Most Innovative Hi-Tech Hardware Product, Tātaki Auckland Unlimited Most Innovative Hi-Tech Creative Technology Solution and Soul Machines Most Innovative Deep Tech Solution categories.

In June Alimetry’s Gastric Alimetry, a pioneering non-invasive medical device used to diagnose common stomach disorders, received American FDA approval, a key milestone to access international markets. The medical devices company founded by Armen Gharibans, Peng Du, Stefan Calder, and Greg O’Grady in 2019 is based on 10 years of world-leading gut electrophysiology research out of ABI.

Peter Hunter, Director of the ABI says he is delighted to see this success.
“ABI has created an environment where talented people like Greg O’Grady, Peng Du and others can help turn basic research findings into commercial outcomes both for the benefit of healthcare and the economy. We congratulate the Alimetry team on their success.”

Greg O’Grady, Professor of Surgery in the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences and CEO of Alimetry, says the award successes are a great show of confidence in Alimetry’s team and recognition of their work.

“We are a product of a well-functioning New Zealand science eco-system, and our success is a reflection that that R&D engine is working in New Zealand.

“A lot of investment in this space delivers important yet intangible benefits. I hope Alimetry can be an example of how that science investment can yield significant economic opportunities and clinical impact for New Zealand.”

“The University of Auckland has been critical and equally enabling in this process. They have been the most passionate supporters and UniServices has been pivotal in both funding us and connecting us with investor networks, and really believing in us.”

StretchSense, a company building the “world’s best motion capture glove” using machine learning for superior finger tracking for animators, game developers and film studios, placed Highly Commended in the Endace Most Innovative Hi-Tech Hardware Product category. The company is another ABI success story, spun out of the world-leading Biomimetics Lab in 2012 by founders Iain Anderson, Todd Gisby and Ben O’Brien.

Kara Technologies, placed Highly Commended in the Visa Best Hi-Tech Solution for the Public Good category. The company improves accessibility and quality of service for people who are deaf by providing sign language using digital avatars.