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Goal 3: Good Health and Wellbeing

Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages


Dr Kate Riegle-Van West is on a mission to spread the health benefits of playing with poi. The researcher and artist completed the world’s first scientific study of poi and wellbeing as a PhD student, winning awards for her ground-breaking research. With the support of the Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Kate is now taking her venture SpinPoi to the world. Her poi techniques are being implemented by healthcare professionals as a rehabilitative tool. Her clinical study proved benefits in grip strength, balance, and attention for healthy older adults after just one month of poi practice. A subsequent pilot study conducted at Auckland Hospital’s Rangitoto Ward measured the success of poi with patients primarily recovering from stroke, falls, and/or other neurological conditions. The feedback from the study was very positive, with the majority of patients reporting they thought poi could be helpful for their recovery. Read more.



Taking bowel disease technology to the world

Surgical Design Studios (SDS) has developed a range of medical devices that reduce the time it takes until patients can use their guts again following bowel surgery from five months to two weeks. The technology developed is truly revolutionary and has attracted $4.3 million through early stage capital raising. SDS raised the money through its first angel fundraising round led by Icehouse Ventures fund Tuhua II. The company will use the funds raised to bring its devices to market, with plans to launch in New Zealand later this year, and then overseas once it gains regulatory clearances. SDS was founded two years ago at the University of Auckland’s Medical School department of surgery. Trials at Auckland City Hospital showed extremely promising results. Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer Greg O’Grady is an alumnus of the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s Velocity programme, and continues to work as an Associate Professor at the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences. Read more

bowel disease

Women’s health start-up Junofem develops innovative solution to address global problem

A device created by biotech company Junofem is providing a solution to help women address a common health problem with dignity and precision.

Junofem has created the femfitⓇ, a pelvic floor trainer that is a medical device designed by clinicians to meet the needs of women suffering with urinary incontinence. It is different from other gadgets on the market, offering real time biofeedback which shows users their pelvic floor and abdominal muscle allowing them to learn effective techniques. It is slim and flexible and can be worn comfortably during exercise, and the exercise programme integrated into the app is clinically validated. The femfitⓇ is also a tool for healthcare professionals allowing them to functionally assess how the entire muscle bed is functioning in different positions and they will have access to a clinical portal to allow them to remotely monitor patients and provide individual advice based on their progress.

The femfitⓇ is based on research from the Pelvic Floor Group at the University of Auckland. When it came time to commercialise the idea to make it an accessible solution for the general public, the group approached Jen Barnes to take the role of CEO. Jen is a trained scientist with 15 years of commercial experience and was known to the team from her time working at UniServices, the University of Auckland’s commercialisation company.

Jen was always a scientist but she wasn’t always an entrepreneur. While working at UniServices, Jen took part in the Velocity entrepreneurship competition run by the Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, becoming a finalist for her team’s diagnostics venture SpotCheck. Jen says “The Velocity programme was the first time I reframed the way I looked at myself and considered myself an entrepreneur. I have never considered myself a creative person and I believe entrepreneurs are generally very creative. Velocity helped me realise we all have different sides and strengths and there is no rule about creating a business. You just have  a vision backed by sound decisions, and the fortitude to build that vision. The skills she has gained have helped Jen lead the team at JunoFem to achieve an astonishing array of achievements, delivered at pace. Read more

Jen Barnes

GreenSpot Technologies – turning food waste into high-nutrition flour

Greenspot Technologies, a start-up that came to life through the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s Velocity programme, has created a range of flour made from fermented fruit and vegetable pulp. Greenspot Technologies’ range includes pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, apple, beetroot, orange, carrot and parsnip flours. Their flours are high in protein and fiber and low in sugar and fat. They are made using a sophisticated fermentation process first developed in the research labs of the University of Auckland. Since going through the Velocity programme, Greenspot Technologies has received substantial investment and has made the move to France and have won multiple international awards for innovation.

Could this zero waste, gluten-free, vegan, low-carb NZ pinot noir flour be the next superfood?
Ninna’s story

Maara Fresh – Feeding hearts, minds and stomachs

An innovative business idea developed by Manurewa’s home-grown entrepreneurs will benefit more than 2,000 Manurewa High School students through Ka Ora, Ka Ako, the Government’s healthy school lunches programme, starting in 2021. Maara Fresh is a social enterprise which literally grew out of the Manurewa Community Garden. Developed with the support of the University of Auckland Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) it provides a structure to ensure the financial sustainability of initiatives run out of the gardens. These including growing fresh produce to supply to local families, community kitchens and food banks in Manurewa and an education programme about horticulture for students to ensure sustainability. Read more

UNSDG Maara Fresh


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