Innovation workSpace manager Eva Gluyas (foreground) with
(clockwise from left) communications team manger Lynda
Henderson, graphic designer Victoria Griffin, design
associate Madison Henry, project facilitator Christina
Sandford, technician Ken Wyber, project manager Roberta
Lawrence, design engineer Nicholas Sleeman, product
designer Lorne Secord, graphic designer Vincent Egan and
project manager Clare Gillies. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
An expanding team at Otago Polytechnic is backing a batch
of fledgling business ideas which could help transform
The team of about 25 people at innovation workSpace
specialises in helping transform fledgling ideas into
products ready for the market and is working with individuals
and companies from Dunedin, across New Zealand and as far
afield as Beijing.
Team manager Eva Gluyas said she hoped to double its staff
numbers this year.
Those working at innovation workSpace now included product
engineers who had previously worked for companies such as
Fisher and Paykel, web designers, code writers and a surface
The Dunedin-based projects the polytechnic unit was working
on included a biodegradable alternative to aluminium hair dye
foil (with Amanda Buckingham), which Ms Gluyas believed could
generate $50 million in product turnover within two and
a-half years of it being picked up by a global distributor.
Others were a wind turbine developed with Powerhouse Wind and
filtration devices used above commercial cooking equipment
being developed with Ellis Fibre.
It was also working on other projects, including a project
with a farming group out of North Otago, which she predicted
would ''revolutionise the small farming industry''.
She was unable to reveal details about some of the projects
because of commercial sensitivity.
All the ideas had the potential to boost Dunedin's economy,
''When you start developing businesses that are generating
$50 million turnovers over two and a-half years, you don't
have to be a genius in macroeconomics to understand the
changes you can have on the economic environment.''
The team's success was demonstated by the fact that over the
past two years it had received just over $2 million through
the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's
technology transfer voucher scheme - more than any other
''The [University of Otago] was the second-largest, with a
much higher number of projects, but a lower dollar value than
us,'' Ms Gluyas said.
''Together, we had over half the funding in the country.''
This meant exciting times for Dunedin.
''What is going on in this country is happening here. There
is a hell of a lot going on.''
The team was attracting interest from not only Dunedin
individuals and companies, but from people around New Zealand
and the world.
''We are absolutely swamped with people coming to us,
inquiries coming to us, being recommended by other tertiary
institutions around the country.''
Ms Gluyas, who spent 15 years designing medical equipment,
shifted to Dunedin from the United Kingdom and believed the
hype that New Zealanders were the ''most inventive people on
the planet'' after looking at international patent
''[New Zealand] is the most inventive country by a factor of
two. You convert 3% of your patents into merchantable
product, the United States about 1.2%, the United Kingdom
''This is a remarkable culture and Dunedin is the best place
in the country.''
She had no plans to move back to the United Kingdom, she
''I will have been here for five years in April and when it
gets to April 8 I am going to get my [New Zealand] passport
and tear up my British one.''