Women in STEM Commercialisation Award

The Women in STEM Commercialisation Award honors a leading female academic or researcher who aspires to commercialise her technology to make a difference to the world we live in.

Designed to accelerate the leadership of women in STEM fields, the Pacific Channel Women in STEM Commercialisation Award, valued at $100,000 will shine a spotlight on exceptional talent and drive positive change in the growth of female-led technologies.

Applications have now closed.

The Award

The recipient of the Women in STEM Commercialisation Award will receive:

1. $5,000 cash award

2. $45k in-kind contribution

from the Pacific Channel whānau including:

Dedicated Mentor

Nominated Pacific Channel mentor to formally work with innovator, set program goals, and guide/support the innovator and the project.

Commercial/Entrepreneurial and Scientific Advisory Board

Monthly commercialisation sessions on focused topics with members of the Pacific Channel extended whānau team and global expert advisers.

Legal and Accounting Advisors

Legal (MinterEllisonRuddWatts), accounting and financial forecasting advice (VCFO), advice as required. Media training and communications guidance from Joyce & Howse Consulting. With this commitment split between the members of the PC adviser whānau as required by the winner.

3. $50k project investment

An option to access $50k investment from the Pacific Channel Kea Fund to help drive their project forward. Kea Fund investment can be used for:

Working in parallel with the winner’s technology transfer office (if any) to bolster their existing capabilities and develop the venture.

Commercial Pathway Development

Supporting the development of a commercial pathway including market, competitive and industry validation (utilising third party providers where required).

Intellectual Property

Supporting the development of IP strategy, IP pathway assessment.

Technology Proof of Concept

Supporting design of work required to develop proof of concepts including paying for the time of the award winner where required and/or to engage in independent third-party technical validation.

Two other applicants will be awarded a $2,500 cash prize each in recognition of their work and potential.

Mentorship will include focus on:

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Market Validation

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Team Formation

Communication and stakeholder engagement icon

Communication & Stakeholder Engagement

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Sustainable Advantage & Capital Planning

Why Pacific Channel is holding the Women in STEM Commercialisation Award

As one of New Zealand’s largest deep-tech venture capital fund, the team at Pacific Channel are committed to addressing gender equality in STEM commercialisation by:

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Encouraging women to enter and thrive in the world of STEM commercialisation

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Enabling a structural and sustainable change in the world of academic commercialisation

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Empowering women with groundbreaking ideas to come forward and excel with confidence

STEM is at the heart of innovation and product development. The commercialisation of these new breakthrough technologies will help solve some of the world’s biggest social and environmental challenges, yet the gender gap in this fast-growing industry is significant.

However, although there is increased focus on funding women-led ventures, most of this investment isn’t going towards deep tech – companies commercialising technology that solves substantial scientific or engineering challenges. While people are very focused on funding women, there are still barriers in place due to the inherent issue of women in STEM not getting to the point of commercialisation.

The Pacific Channel whānau recognise they have a key role in forging a shift in the level of VC funding for female-led STEM innovations by creating investment pathways, highlighting the benefits of bringing different experiences and perspectives and promoting positive role models for women in STEM. The Women in STEM Commercialisation Awards is a key part of this commitment.  

“Several recent studies have highlighted the existence of a gender gap in academic entrepreneurship. Female academics are less likely to disclose their inventions, hold a patent; or create a new enterprise based on their research.”

Abreu & Grinevich (2017)

Who is eligible

Female researchers and academics...

...with an idea or technology with clear market need  

...who have an aspiration to be involved with their own company whether as a founder and scientific advisor or as an executive

...have a background in science, technology, engineering, math and medicine (STEM)

...have at minimum a master's degree in a STEM field

Benefits of program

Provide women with access to an established deep tech network

Support women to promote their ideas and research to local and global audiences

Empower women to drive the commercialisation of their innovations

Advance structural changes in science commercialisation sector to move towards gender equality

Application process & timing


1. Initial application form

2. Application review

3. Interview for shortlisted candidates

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to have an informal interview with the Pacific Channel team. This will consist of a high-level pitch of the proposed idea and a general discussion around motivations for the candidate.

4. Final candidate announced


Public launch of the awards:

16 August

Applications close:

14 October

Winner announcement:

By 17 November

Meet our judging panel

Our judges have been carefully selected based on their experience and their passions to encourage and inspire women with groundbreaking ideas and technology to excel with confidence. 

Cather Simpson
Professor Cather Simpson
Partner – BA, Ph.D

Cather is one of New Zealand’s leading academic entrepreneurs, a founder of three deep tech start-ups from her research. Cather has a passion for driving forward the commercialisation of academic research, as well as supporting more women to move into the field. 

Ashwath Sundaresan
Dr Ashwath Sundaresan 
Investment Manager – B.E. (1st Hons) Ph.D, MBA

Ashwath leads Pacific Channel’s investments into cleantech and advanced engineering ventures, as well as supporting medical device opportunities. Ashwath has a wide-ranging background, initially as a business and strategy consultant for Accenture and Google and then in university commercialisation with Wellington UniVentures. Ashwath hopes to utilise his experience from both large technology companies and early stage deep-tech ventures  to help support the winner commercialise their initiative. 

Emerald Scofield
Emerald Scofield
Senior Associate – BSc 

Emerald has been with Pacific Channel since 2019, and is responsible for assessing and building early-stage investment opportunities, as well as playing an active role in supporting Pacific Channel’s start-ups. Emerald has a keen passion for driving more diversity in the deep tech start up space.

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