Scion a winner in the 2016 KiwiNet Awards
For immediate release
1 July 2016
Scion Business Development Manager Jeremy Warnes (left) and IP Executive Gregor MacDonald presenting on the Woodforce commercialisation partnership.
Scion and licensing partner Sonae Indústria have won a KiwiNet Award for their partnership to commercialise a new wood reinforced plastic product that could be used in cars, appliances and a range of consumer products.
The annual KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards announced yesterday is New Zealand’s premier event celebrating the achievements of individuals, teams and organisations actively commercialising publicly funded research.
The Crown research institute Scion and Sonae Industria have won the MinterEllisonRuddWatts Research & Business Partnership Award for their deeply embedded working relationship.
Scion has partnered with European wood processing giant Sonae Indústria, successfully establishing a commercial value chain for wood fibre reinforced plastics. The key enabling technology is embedded in wood fibre dice, known as Woodforce, which is sold by Sonae Industria to plastics processors.
Scion Business Development Manager Jeremy Warnes says this accolade is very exciting for both parties.
“We have been working very closely together for 8 years, not always easy from both sides of the world, but have now reached the point where Woodforce is starting to make inroads into the market,” says Mr Warnes.
Plastics with wood fibre are stronger and stiffer than plastics alone, but, until recently, handling the bulky fibre has not been commercially feasible. Scion’s patented process forms wood fibre into ‘dice’ that can be made in existing MDF plants and easily added to a range of plastics.
Mr Warnes says as most opportunities for composite plastic manufacture are outside New Zealand, Scion looked for an MDF manufacturer with a global reach who could be key party in a complex and unfamiliar value chain.
“Government funding helped enormously in reaching the technology development stage where we could engage a global company looking for sustainable technologies,” said Mr Warnes.
Sonae Industria was granted an exclusive licence for the wood fibre dice technology in Europe in 2011 and North America in 2013. Sonae owns and has developed the Woodforce brand.
The commitment of both partners working with the full value chain has led to the optimisation of Woodforce and the compounding process, putting the partners in a strong commercial position. End products that meet demands for lighter weight, thermal stability and sustainability are being trialled and approved by major automotive manufacturers. The wide exposure to companies along the value chain has also led to relationships with other manufacturing industries to develop new products.
“Ultimately, the product will end up in plastic parts in cars, appliances, furniture and a wide range of consumer goods,” says Mr Warnes.
“The commercial potential is very large. Figures are hard to define for a range of reasons, such as do we define the dice our partner sells, or the plastic products that are manufactured using our technology. It also depends on uptake and commercial reality of a competitive environment. However, we believe that the potential could ultimately be in the 100’s of millions in business generated on a global scale.”
Scion developed and patented the technology with funding from New Zealand’s former Foundation of Research, Science and Technology (now the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment).