Major donation boosts New Zealand medtech and neuroscience

05 October 2016
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Distinguished Professor Peter Hunter, Director of the Auckland Bioengineering Institute and the MedTech CoRE

A significant donation to the University of Auckland’s recently launched fundraising campaign is set to create new diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for healthcare and new opportunities in the rapidly growing New Zealand medical technology sector.

The University of Auckland has been pledged $6.8 million from the New York based Aotearoa Foundation of well-known philanthropist, Julian Robertson.

The University recently launched the most ambitious fundraising campaign in New Zealand history, aiming to raise $300m to address critical challenges facing our communities.

The donation from the Aotearoa Foundation focusses on supporting leading researchers at the University’s Auckland Bioengineering Institute (ABI) and Centre for Brain Research (CBR).

The Director of ABI, Distinguished Professor Peter Hunter says, “This new Aotearoa Foundation investment will be used to attract world class researchers to the ABI in the areas of computer modelling of the human body and instrumentation development for medical devices.”

“We are delighted with these significant packages of support,” he says. “We expect these researchers to lead to new spinout medtech companies with both economic and healthcare benefits for New Zealand,” he says.

The Director of the CBR, Distinguished Professor Richard Faull, says of the support for CBR, “The Aotearoa Foundation donation will be a vital catalyst for our strategic work in brain research.”

“This ‘bench to bedside’ support will enable us to attract further leading international researchers to link the neuroscientists in the University of Auckland and the clinicians in the Auckland Hospitals to more rapidly tackle neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson's and Huntington's disease,” says Professor Faull.

The Aotearoa Foundation is a private foundation established in 2004 by Julian Robertson and his wife Josie which seeks to make high-impact grants in New Zealand in three principal areas: education, conservation and environmental stewardship, and medical research.

As opportunities emerge, the Foundation has provided grants in other spheres, and a further objective of our work is to help develop a stronger culture of philanthropy in New Zealand.

In the University of Auckland Campaign For All Our Futures, the University aims to address some of the key issues facing New Zealand and the world such as: access to quality education; a clean environment; preventing adult disease before birth; ensuring all those with talent can reach their full potential; integrating creativity into all our lives; improved cancer survival rates; a modern robust economy; and a safer and healthier environment.

“Leading the Way Campaign”, the first whole-University fundraising campaign ran from 2006 to 2012 and raised $202.9m, making it the most successful fundraising initiative in New Zealand.

Campaign Board members include Geoff Ricketts CNZM (Chair), Victoria Carter ONZM, Peter Cooper CNZM, John Dunn, Roger France ONZM, Andrew Grant, Sir John Hood KNZM, Greg Horton, Jennie Hu, Chris Liddell CNZM, Arthur Loo QSM, Sir Ralph Norris KNZM, Dr Ian Parton, Peter Rajsingh, Lyndy Sainsbury, Cecilia Tarrant and Eric Tracey.

For media enquiries email Suzi Phillips, Media Advisor, Auckland Bioengineering Institute.