Mrinali Kumar from New Zealand’s Massey University won the Momentum Student Entrepreneur award for her Kinda ice cream concept at the recent KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards.

The awards, now in their 10th year, celebrate the scientific discoveries being developed and launched into the market from New Zealand’s universities, Crown Research Institutes and other research organisations.

The winners, selected from a record number of finalists, include a new test for gastric function, a breakthrough innovator responsible for a disruptive zinc recycling process, tech for measuring the chemical structure of molecules, and a university student set to launch a cauliflower-based ice cream.

The ice cream, known as Kinda, is the brainchild of Mrinali Kumar, who’s studying a Masters in Food Technology at Massey University. At the end of the fourth year of her Bachelor’s degree, Kumar participated at Startup Weekend in Taranaki, where she met her co-founder Jenni Matheson, who presented the idea of cauliflower-based ice cream.

Kinda’s Mrinali Kumar.

Kumar claimed the Momentum Student Entrepreneur Award, which recognises a highly motivated university student who “looks beyond the science and sees the prize – how their idea can change the world,” a statement from the awards organisers, KiwiNet, reads. “The student is making outstanding contributions to business innovation or has created innovative businesses in New Zealand through technology licencing, start-up creation or by providing expertise to support business innovation.”

Kinda ice cream is based on an innovative formulation using ‘cosmetically imperfect’ cauliflowers – which provide a creamy, dairy-like texture with higher melting stability than competitor products.

The dairy industry is a pillar of the New Zealand economy, worth $10.2 billion and employing 50,000 workers. However, agriculture is responsible for 48 percent of New Zealand’s overall emissions, and dairy contributes just under half of New Zealand’s agricultural livestock emissions.

Kinda aims to develop alternatives to traditional animal products using New Zealand-grown ingredients, broadening New Zealand’s focus from being dairy- and meat-centric, to also incorporating more sustainable crops.

Other 2022 KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Award winners include:

Breakthrough Innovator Award
Jonathan Ring – Zincovery / University of Canterbury: Zincovery – Decarbonising zinc recycling

Researcher Entrepreneur Award
Professor Justin Hodgkiss, Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington: A leader in deep-tech research commercialisation

Commercialisation Professional Award
Evelyn Body, UniServices: Unique combination of expertise delivering exceptional outcomes

Breakthrough Project Award
Gastric Alimetry, UniServices: Gastric Alimetry – The new test of gastric function

Commercialisation Impact Award
Magritek: Massey Ventures and Wellington UniVentures – Beautiful science to business

Commercialisation Icon Award
Professor Cather Simpson: University of Auckland – An inspirational commercialisation leader, advocate, and entrepreneur, driving returns for Aotearoa and empowering the next generation

KiwiNet (The Kiwi Innovation Network) represents a collective of 19 universities, Crown Research Institutes, an Independent Research Organisation and a Crown Entity, established to boost commercial outcomes from publicly funded research, by helping to transform scientific discoveries into new products and services.

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