Open Problems in Engineering Biology

Vijay Pande and Andy Tran from Andressen Horowitz have penned a piece about the top 16 open problems that they can see in engineering biology, particularly in the pharma space. There are a number of “traditional” methods waiting to be disrupted, from animal testing to computational modelling. Our portfolio company Mekonos is targeting problem #6 – engineering delivery systems.

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Solar Concentrators at VUW

The Spinoff has covered Nate Davis’s laboratory and the solar concentrators they are developing, which may revolutionise solar electricity generation by diffusing light sideways efficiently. This would allow for photovoltaic panels to be embedded in all sorts of places, like in the sides of windows with the light being distributed to the sides of the pane of glass. By significantly reducing the land cost of solar electricity generation, and also supporting distributed generation, this technology could significantly disrupt the way renewable energy is generated in the future.

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To beat climate change, we must look at ourselves

A great article from Prof John Hosking, Dean of the Faculty of Science at the University of Auckland, discusses how scientists both call for carbon reduction to fight climate change, while also having above-average levels of carbon production. It may make our lives more inconvenient, but we must look introspectively and understand our own behaviours in order to beat climate change.

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UoA Prof Explores Ethics of 3D Printing

Stuff covers an interview with Prof. Olaf Diegel, who joined the University of Auckland earlier this year to run a lab that helps NZ industry use 3D printing more intelligently. In this article, he notes the social changes that would come with being able to print replaceable body organs, as well as the impacts that might arise from changes to lifestyle from food printing.

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NZ’s first FDA-granted Breakthrough Device

Congratulations to the team at Surgical Design Studio (SDS) and the University of Auckland for achieving a Breakthrough Device designation from the FDA – the first medical device in New Zealand to do so. SDS have a novel device to help those suffering from gastrointestinal diseases, transforming their recoveries from surgery by reducing complications and improving quality of life.

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Bio-compatible 3D Printing

Professor Olaf Diegel at the University of Auckland talks about recent breakthroughs in additive manufacturing (also known as 3D printing). His team can already print aesthetically pleasing artificial limbs – the technology will soon be there to print organs, including complex organs like livers and kidneys. This would allow medical professionals to print organs to design, suitable for individual patients, rather than relying on organ transplants.

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First dual-core biocomputers developed

Researchers at ETH Zurich have used CRISPR methods to develop the first dual-core cell-based biological computer. While biocomputers are relatively slow, the alphabet is much larger and they can use a much larger base system than binary or decimal, at a fraction of the energy cost. While there is still a long way to go before biocomputers can catch up to traditional silicon-based computers, this is exciting progress in this space.

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Biomatters Acquired!

A leading provider of DNA data analysis solutions, Auckland-based Biomatters has been acquired by GraphPad, a US publisher of scientific software (particularly around biostatistics). With significant numbers of customers overseas (particularly in the US), the acquisition will help Biomatters take their software to the rest of the world, with a connection through to Insight Partners as well, a leading VC/PE firm investing in high-growth technology and software companies. The sale is great news for Ice Angels and NZVIF, who both held significant stakes in the company.

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