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MedTech, space research and biotech were showcased when Science, Innovation and Technology Minister Hon Judith Collins visited the University of Auckland.

Science, Innovation and Technology Minister the Hon Judith Collins, (centre) was hosted by the Vice-Chancellor Professor Dawn Freshwater and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research, Professor Frank Bloomfield.

Science, Innovation and Technology Minister, the Hon. Judith Collins, interacted with a virtual human, had her picture taken by a satellite camera and was briefed on innovative research with real-world impact at the University of Auckland on 8 March.

The Minister discussed science system priorities with the Vice-Chancellor Professor Dawn Freshwater and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research, Professor Frank Bloomfield, before visiting The Space Institute at the Faculty of Engineering and the Cloud 9 incubator for MedTech startups at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute.

At the Space Institute Judith Collins, who is also New Zealand's first space minister,  visited the Mission Operations Control Centre, which will soon operate a satellite heralded as the country’s first space mission. The institute includes a satellite fabrication facility with a clean room and the institute’s National Satellite Testing Facility where satellites can be subjected to the rigours of a rocket launch and space to ensure they will successfully complete their mission. From the clean room, researchers took the Minister’s photo with a satellite camera.

Space Institute Director Professor Guglielmo Aglietti outlined the Institute’s ‘end to end’ strategy from training engineers for careers in the growing space sector to offering an array of testing and development platforms to support commercial space enterprises.

At the Cloud 9 incubator at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute, the Minister was briefed on a series of pre-start-ups, including researcher Gonzalo Maso Talou, who is using AI to detect the onset of disease in brain imaging.

The Minister then interacted with a virtual human health adviser leveraging New Zealand hi-tech company Soul Machines, which offers people the ability to better understand their health status through conversation with a virtual health adviser. The Minister also visited the offices of Alimetry, a MedTech success with non-invasive diagnostic tools for people with chronic gastric problems.

Professor Bloomfield also briefed Judith Collins on successful trials with highly portable genome sequencing to help diagnose rare diseases in newborn baby DNA. She discussed progress on research led by Associate Professor Nikki Moreland to trial a potential vaccine for Strep A, a common infection that can lead to rheumatic fever in children, leaving them with potential lifelong health issues.


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