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2021 Beyond the lab: Callaghan Innovation’s Research Showcase

The Callaghan Innovation Speaker Series featuring leading innovation experts.


Monday 24 May
2:30pm - 4:30pm

Tuesday 25 May
10:00am - 12:00pm

Wednesday 26 May
2:30pm - 4:30pm

Friday 28 May
10:00am - 12:00pm

The Orchard, The Orchard ,
35 Walton St, Whangarei
Free event
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What's it all about?

As part of Techweek21, Northland Inc is excited to host Beyond the lab: Callaghan Innovation’s research showcase. This speaker series – featuring leading Callaghan Innovation experts – will showcase recent research and customer success stories, to inspire, support, and grow Northland’s innovation ecosystem. 

Callaghan Innovation is NZ’s innovation agency. It activates innovation and helps businesses grow faster for a better Aotearoa New Zealand. Together with regional partners – including Northland Inc – Callaghan Innovation partners with ambitious businesses of all sizes, providing a range of innovation and research and development (R&D) services to suit each stage of growth.

Beyond the lab: Callaghan Innovation’s research showcase offers opportunities to learn from experts in their field – from communications and the internet of things (IoT) to Advanced Manufacturing, construction and Agritech, and to hear inspiring customer success stories. There’ll also be plenty of opportunities to ask questions about your specific innovations, to help you kickstart or accelerate your R&D projects. 

Speaker schedule: 

24 May 2.30 - 4.30pm:    Nick Sterling,  Business Innovation Advisor, Construction 

25 May 10am-12pm:       Chatu Lokuge, IoT and Data Solutions Team Lead

26 May 2.30 - 4.30pm:    Nic Pennington, Advanced Manufacturing Research and Development Solutions Team Lead

28 May 10am-12pm:       Ashna Khan, Customer Manager, Agritech

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Nick Sterling

Business Innovation Advisor, Construction

Construction is the world’s largest ecosystem, consisting of 13% of global GDP (5th largest and 7% of GDP in NZ) and is being reshaped by both the global pandemic and the housing crisis in NZ. Interviews with 400 Construction businesses showed that while 75% of them agree that the sector is being majorly disrupted, only 9% feel confident about creating opportunities from that disruption.

Callaghan Innovation supports businesses to identify these key opportunities through insights, supports them to define their innovation journey so they can create significantly greater economic, environmental, and social value.
This presentation will provide an overview of the Construction sector, how the pandemic is reshaping it and the types of opportunities that are being created through technology, business model innovation and ecosystem-wide collaboration initiatives in NZ.

Nick designed and now leads the Construction Sector Initiative at Callaghan Innovation, establishing a partnership across government, CRIs, universities and industry sector bodies to support businesses in commercialising their innovation in both local and international markets. Nick has held leadership positions in the ICT sector and as a pro bono business mentor in his own time, he turns around at-risk regional businesses, supports not-for-profit organisations and social enterprises. He also designed and implemented the national Business Mentors New Zealand Start-Up Programme in 2014

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Nic Pennington

Advanced Manufacturing Research and Development Solutions Team Lead

Nic is a Business Development Manager who specialises in the Commercialisation and Technology Transfer environment. He has worked for over 20 years solving problems for companies in different countries and sectors. Nic has a background and experience in manufacturing, construction, energy and engineering and a significant network across industry and research in New Zealand. Nic's passion is solving problems for clients by bringing the appropriate people together.

Nic's presentation will focus on Callaghan Innovation R&D Solutions (RDS), with an overview of RDS capabilities with a specific focus around Advanced Manufacturing, Product Development, Industry 4,0 and Robotics and Automation.

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Dr Ashna Khan

Customer Manager – Agritech

Ashna Khan is a Customer Manager within the Agrifood Team at Callaghan Innovation and manages the biotech portfolio within the Agri sector. Ashna has completed a PhD in Organic Chemistry with Victoria University of Wellington and has worked as a Research Scientist for 3 years prior to joining Callaghan Innovation as a Business Development Manager and then moving into the Customer Manager role. As a Customer Manager Ashna is exposed to new technologies and advancements in the agriculture industry and works closely with companies from early-stage start-ups to big corporates, connecting them to government support and innovation skills as required. Ashna also works closely with other stakeholders relevant to the agri industry, such as academic and research and regulatory personnel.

Ashna is excited to come to Northland to engage with local businesses. Her talk will be focussed on the Callaghan Innovation offering, global trends in the Food and Agri space and the Agritech Industry Transformation Plan (ITP), a government initiative aimed to provide the agritech sector with the support to accelerate its growth.

Chatu Lokuge

IoT and Data Solutions

The interconnectivity offered by wireless technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) means New Zealand business can more easily participate and compete on the world stage. Chatu's session will focus on Callaghan Innovation’s wireless, and audio & sonar tech capabilities and how Callaghan Innovation works with New Zealand businesses to bring their ideas to life.

Chatu is an electrical engineer with more than 20 years’ experience in advanced signal processing, physical layer security wireless R&D in communication technologies, business development and management of engineering teams.


10am-12pm, 28th May
Ashna Khan (Customer Manager – Agritech)
2.30 pm – 4.30 pm, 26th May
Nic Pennington (Advanced Manufacturing Research and Development Solutions Team Lead)
2.30pm - 4.30pm, 24th May
Nick Sterling (Business Innovation Advisor, Construction)
10am-12pm, 25th May
Chatu Lokuge (IoT and Data Solutions)

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Brought to you by
Northland Inc logo Callaghan logo
  • Agritech
  • Biotech
  • Construction Tech
  • Manufacturing and production
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