Research collaborations

Scion is adept at assembling multi-disciplinary teams through strong national and international collaborations. Our international reach is extensive and through such collaborations and networks our scientists stay at the forefront of the latest thinking, novel approaches and technology advances. Building on these linkages is critical for Scion to remain at the forefront of innovation and competitive in the global market. Our presence and influence in key networks and collaborations locally is well recognised and embedded in our research programmes.

On the global stage

Scion and the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland are collaborating on exciting research at the leading edge of global trends, such as novel carbon materials, nanocellulose applications, biorefineries and pulp, paper and packaging – areas of huge interest to high-value manufacturers and the bioeconomy opportunity.

To cement the collaboration, Scion signed a research collaboration agreement with VTT in March 2016. The agreement sets a clear path for Scion to focus on co-invention and commercialisation of technologies that will contribute to increased use of climate friendly, lightweight, high performance materials made from forest biomass.

New Zealand, through Scion, will get better access to global opportunities in the bioeconomy. Both organisations have complementary science and technology capabilities and a good history of joint work. Under the agreement, we will also jointly target EU funding and approach global opportunities in the bioeconomy, particularly in Asia.

The first project conducted under the agreement will adapt VTT technology for hardwood trees and apply it to New Zealand radiata pines to develop a new biobased film for the packaging industry.

VTT CEO Dr Antti Vasara said, “The bio and circular economy are global hot spot areas with huge technology potential where VTT and Scion can combine their competencies and work together to open up new commercialisation opportunities. With this agreement we are also happy to see Scion as our partnering organisation in New Zealand better serving industry for the benefit of all.”

Scion became one of the first international partners in ‘Brilliant’, an online portal for innovative clean technologies established by Belgium-based research organisation VITO. The portal is the first of its kind, designed to connect companies with developers of innovative technologies addressing sustainable business needs.

General Manager Bioproducts and Manufacturing Dr Elspeth MacRae says that Scion was selected by VITO as one of the first international partners for Brilliant because of our innovative mindset and our ability to operate internationally.  “We are very excited to be part of this community of innovation-driven organisations. The portal will provide an excellent shop window to the patents and technology developments we list there and bring us closer to each other’s markets.”

Brilliant was set up by VITO in late 2015 to offer entrepreneurs new technologies and products developed and protected by VITO itself or in partnership with other Flemish research centres.

“Joining Brilliant is a good move for Scion,” said Elspeth. “It will hugely increase our exposure to European markets and provide a new route to commercialisation for our bio-based products and clean technologies, such as our coatings technologies.”

AR16 - Elspeth 

 Dr Elspeth MacRae signing a partnership agreement with Belgium-based VITO.


As part of our collaboration with VITO, a recent PhD graduate from France joined us in November 2015 as the first joint postdoctoral fellow between the two organisations; a senior VITO executive visited Scion in January 2016. 

Other international linkages during the year included:

  • Signing an agreement with FP Innovations in Canada relating to 3D printing.
  • Joining InnovaWood (Ireland), an umbrella organisation that integrates four European networks in the forest, wood-based and furniture industries.
  • Joining Clib2021, a Germany-based international research and industry cluster for biotechnology
  • Being invited to participate in the Global Bioeconomy Forum for a further two years.
  • Visiting Germany in October-November 2015 to discuss possible collaborations with Fraunhofer IGB, Fraunhofer Umsicht, University of Chemnitz, Beckman Institute and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT).
  • Visiting Thuenen Institute (Germany) in September to pursue a collaborative project on the development of bio-based wood plastic composites.  A reciprocal visit occurred in October and again in 2016.  The collaboration is supported by the Royal Society (New Zealand – Germany Science and Technology Programme).
  • A memorandum of understanding was signed between the Korea Institute of Energy Research and Scion for the development of research cooperation in the field of energy technology.
  • Joining the new Tall Timber Buildings Centre led by Queensland University of Technology.
  • Hosting a scientist, working on wood preservation chemicals, from the Israel Institute for Biological Research on a six month sabbatical.

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