About Us


Our New Zealand based company was formed in 2005 born of a desire by its shareholders to exploit specific niche areas of bio-research to create new bio-based chemicals, biopolymers and applications. In keeping with today’s style of doing business we are a small but agile company able to draw upon the skills of a large pool of talented research scientists sub-contracted from our shareholders Scion, AgResearch and Plant & Food Research Ltd.

Governance


  • David Hughes
    Chairman
    BPN Chairman
    David Hughes, CEO, The New Zealand Institute of Plant & Food Ltd

    David is the CEO of Plant & Food Research, a CRI with a focus on horticulture, arable crops, seafood and wine.


    Background

    Previously David was Group GM Commercial for Plant & Food Research, responsible for the company's marketing, business development and IP functions.  David has worked extensively in the Dairy Industry. David joined the New Zealand Dairy Board in 1987 and worked for 5 years in a range of technical functions at the head office in Wellington. In 1992 he transferred to the Middle East where he spent 5 years in sales, marketing and product development. His next move was to Tokyo, Japan where, for 2 years he was the General Manager Technical for the NZDB's Japanese operating company. In 1999 he returned to Head Office in NZ to take up the role of Global Category Manager before moving to the US to the role of Senior Vice President Business Development for the US operating company. In 2003 David returned to NZ to a leadership position in Fonterra's newly formed Marketing and Innovation group (Fonterra was formed through a merger of the majority of the dairy industry in NZ and is now one of the world's largest dairy companies). In 2005 David swapped from the ingredients to the branded consumer side of Fonterra's business taking the role of GM Brands Innovation with responsibility for consumer goods R&D.

    He was appointed CEO of Plant and Food in February 2018.


    Qualifications

    BTech (Hons), Manufacturing, Massey University, New Zealand
    PGDip, Applied Statistics, Massey University, New Zealand


    Professional Memberships

    Member, New Zealand Institute of Directors
    President, Australasian Industrial Research Group



     

  • Russell Burton
    Russell Burton GM Research & Investments, Scion

    Russell has oversight of the New Zealand Government investment into Scion to ensure maximum value to New Zealand and to Scion.


    Background

    With over 30 years involvement in the science sector, Russell's role has varied from research, research management and commercialization of technologies. He has had a key role in development of a number of Scion's spin-out companies including Greenweld Technologies Ltd and Wood Hardening Technologies Ltd where he has been CEO for periods and later, on the Board.


    Qualifications

    BE (Chemical and Process), University of Canterbury 1977.
    PhD (Applied Science), Loughborough University of Technology United Kingdom 1987
    Fellow Institution of Professional Engineers, New Zealand
    Fellow Institution of Chemical Engineers, United Kingdom
    Chartered Engineer, United Kingdom


    Professional Memberships

    Member, New Zealand Institute of Directors



  • Elspeth MacRae
    Elspeth MacRae, GM Manufacturing & Bioproducts, Scion

    Elspeth leads the Manufacturing and Bioproducts business and science area which includes all Scion's wood and fibre processing as well as biorefinery, biodiscovery and bioplastic activities.


    Background

    Her personal science background includes research into:
    Kiwifruit and plants in general
    Sensory and consumer responses
    Postharvest technologies
    Carbohydrate and cell wall metabolism in plants
    Flavour and fragrance chemicals and plant metabolic pathways and human detection
    Allergens from plants and human interactions
    Genomics, metabolomics and genetics technologies
    Translating genomics to industrial biotechnology applications
    Enzyme structure, function and activity



  • Kieran Elborough
    Kieran Elborough, Group General Manager - Technology Development, The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Ltd

    As Group General Manager of technology development at the New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research Ltd, Kieran is involved in aligning the majority of New Zealand's horticultural/arable breeding.   Kieran’s governance experience includes a Ministerial appointment on the Authority of the Environmental Risk Management Agency NZ and more recently several plant based companies both in NZ and overseas.


    Background

    Kieran has had a diverse science career to date, with a background that includes a lectureship at the University of Durham in the UK, and commercial research with a subsidiary of Fonterra.  In that time he has worked in cancer research, microbiology and plant molecular/breeding biology, working for a time in metabolic engineering of plants for bioplastics production.


    Qualifications

    BSc, Microbiology/Microbial genetics, University of Dundee, United Kingdom
    DPhil, Imperial Cancer Research Fund, Imperial College, University of London, United Kingdom


    Professional Memberships

    Director and decision maker for the New Zealand government's environmental protection agency (ERMA NZ)



  • Jolon Dyer
    Jolon Dyer, Science Group Leader, Food & Bio-based Products, Agresearch Ltd

    Jolon's research specialises in protein chemistry, proteomics and structural biology, and their application to wool, meat, dairy and personal care products. He is particularly active in the application of redox proteomics approaches to understanding and controlling protein damage within these substrates, and also in evaluating molecular level interactions between proteins and other biomolecules, especially in foods and textiles.

    Jolon has achieved significant national and international recognition, including the AWI Award for Scientific Achievement and AWI-DWI Excellence in Wool Science Personal Award (2005), NZIAHS Significant Science Achievement Award (2008) and American Society of Photobiology New Investigator Award (2010). Dr Dyer also has adjunct positions within the Biomolecular Interaction Centre at the University of Canterbury (Senior Fellow), the Wine and Food Molecular Biosciences Department at Lincoln University (Associate Professor), and the Riddet Institute based at Massey University (Associate Investigator).



  • Stuart Hall
    Stuart Hall

    Stuart is currently the Partnerships and Programmes Director for AgResearch, responsible for broad commercial activity, a role he commenced in late 2017.


    Background

    Prior to joining AgResearch, Stuart commenced his career with DB Breweries Ltd, spending 15 years in a variety of New Zealand based commercial roles, the last being National Sales Manager.

    In 2009 Stuart joined ANZCO Foods, a significant New Zealand Agri-Business with a global export focus. He spent 8 years in Sales & Marketing roles, the final 4 as General Manager of Sales & Marketing with responsibility for global commercial activity including responsibility for several international offices.

    Stuart graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce and Post Graduate Diploma from Otago University in 1993 and is a member of the New Zealand Institute of Directors.


Our Management Team


  • Sarah Heine, CEO
    Sarah Heine

    Sarah has served as CEO of the company since late 2008 and prior to this was the Manager of ATLAS Technology which provides integrated forestry management and processing software to the forestry industry. The board unanimously selected Sarah based on her demonstrated strong managerial and leadership skills. She leads a dedicated and talented team of scientists working alongside development and commercialisation specialists to deliver pioneering research in bio-based technologies.


  • Kate Parker
    Kate Parker

    Kate is a chemist who is developing new packaging materials using biomaterials. Kate's particular field of interest is biopolymer foams as alternatives to expanded polystyrene. She graduated from the University of Auckland with a PhD in green chemistry before taking up a Post-doctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia, Canada. Kate has 17 year's experience with wastewater remediation, green chemistry processes (including CO2 processing) and biomaterials working closely with industry partners. Since 2007 her work has focused on biobased options and in particular on developing high performance bioplastics, thermoset bioresins and biopolymer foams. She is a Team Leader (Biopolymer and Chemical Technologies) and Project Leader at Scion, Rotorua, New Zealand.


  • Nigel Larsen
    Nigel Larsen

    Nigel is Science Group Leader for Bioresources Engineering and Chemistry in the Food Innovation Portfolio at Plant and Food Research. He is also an Adjunct Associate Professor with the Biomolecular Interactions Centre at the University of Canterbury, a Principal Investigator with the Riddet Institute's Centre of Research Excellence hosted by Massey University, and has been on the Biopolymer Network Research Management Team since its inception in 2004. Dr Larsen gained his PhD at Massey University and carried out Post-Doctoral studies at the University of Southern California. The Bioresources Engineering and Chemistry group at Plant & Food Research develops ingredients, processes and products from research into food and bio-resources chemistry, bio-extracts and biomaterials engineering. Nigel's personal interest in biomaterials and potential nanotechnology applications in foods and materials stems from his group's work on protein structures, emulsions and structured materials, and a joint programme with ESR social scientists on emerging food technologies.


  • Peter Brorens
    Peter Brorens

    Peter has 26 years experience in the research and development in wool and textile related areas. Starting at the Wool Research Organisation of NZ (WRONZ) in 1985 with a BSC in physics. He has specialised in fibre processing and yarn structure. WRONZ changed into Canesis limited and then became part of AgResearch in 2007. He joined the Biopolymer Network near its inception in 2004. Since then he has developed a knowledge of long plant fibres properties and their processing. He now heads a small team studying the performance of plant fibres in composites, and the potential uses for plant fibre composites.


  • Steven Ranford
    Steve Ranford

    Steve is a senior scientist with a BSc Operations Research. He joined AgResearch in January 2007 and is a member of the food and bio-based products team having previously worked with Wool Research Organisation of New Zealand, which he joined in 1980. He is working on projects with a particular focus on bio-based product development and industrial process measurement.


  • Anne Harris

    Anne Harris

    Anne is the Company Secretary responsible for governance and compliance, however her skill set means she also works across a broad range of other areas within the company including marketing, external communication, reporting and contracts. 


  • Barbara Forbes
    Barbara Forbes

    Barbara is a lawyer with many years’ experience in research, development and intellectual property in the science sector. She obtained her BSc at the University of Alberta followed by a law degree. Barbara is all about practical legal solutions to add value to the business. Barbara provides advice across a wide field of commercial matters with information technology, intellectual property and corporate governance being strong areas of expertise.


  • Sally Williams

     

    Sally Williams

    Sally is BPN’s extremely capable Office Manager a role which encompasses a multitude of tasks both operational and administrative across a team of scientists spread from Auckland to Christchurch along with extensive customer engagement here in New Zealand and internationally.

Our Scientists


  • Jafar Al-Hakkak
    Jafar Al-Hakkak

    Jafar has a BSc in Biochemistry and PhD in polysaccharides of plants. He is a senior scientist in Plant and Food Research with 37 years as a practising researcher. One of his main research interests is related to the study of the physio-chemical properties of food components, such as polysaccharides (starch, cellulose and others) and proteins and their mixtures in solution, emulsion and gel states. Focusing on the function properties of networks formed plant biopolymers, and how these properties are affected by different conditions, such as shear, heat, salt and pH. Recently he filed a patent through BPN of NZ on chemically modified starch (Solagel). Currently he is leading a project on the use of High Pressure Processing to modify starches for novel applications.


  • Fadia Al-Hakkak
    Fadia Al-Hakkak

    Fadia has a BSc in Chemical engineering and Masters in Counter current chromatography.  She is a Scientist in Plant and Food Research with 37 years as a practising researcher.    One of her main research interests are related to the study of the physio-chemical properties of food components, extraction of speciality starches, modification of starch and emulsions and gel states. Focusing on the Function properties of networks formed plant biopolymers, and how these properties are affected by different conditions, such as shear, heat, salt and pH.  Recently she filed a patent through BPN of NZ on chemically modified starch (Solagel).  Currently she is working on the use of High Pressure Processing to modify starches for novel applications.


  • Ben Schon
    Ben Schon

    Ben is a scientist with Plant and Food Research, working within the Biomaterials Team. Ben holds a BSc in Human Nutrition from Massey University and a PhD in Medicine from the University of Otago.

    With expertise across materials science, food science and nutrition, and medical research, his current research focus is on the use of bio-derived materials and their applications within the bioeconomy.


  • Hussam Razzaq
    Hussam Razzaq

    Hussam has a BSc degree in Agriculture Engineering (BSc Hon.), a PhD in Biochemistry, and he is associate professor since 1995 with ten years of teaching experience as a senior lecturer and supervisor at university level. He has been a member of the Biomaterial team at The New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research since 2002. The focus of his work has been on the extraction of useful polymers from sustainable plant resources for the fabrication of environmentally friendly bioplastics, packaging material, health, and cosmetic applications. Another line of his work is the conversion of waste stream material to environmentally friendly and higher value products for practical agricultural and packaging applications”. 


  • Santanu Deb-Choudhury
    Santanu Deb-Choudhury

    Santanu is a Senior Scientist at AgResearch Ltd. His professional expertise is in protein chemistry, including protein cross-linking and functional conversion. His research includes application of chromatography, electrophoresis and mass spectrometry techniques in diverse projects. He is involved in the development and application of proteomic approaches in characterising molecular processes and tracking oxidative modifications in food proteins, bioactive peptide discovery, wool surface functionality amplification, development of biomaterials using proteins and mass spectrometry elucidation of photo-modifications of proteins.


  • Paul Middlewood
    Paul Middlewood

    Paul is a process engineer at AgResearch Ltd. He has many years’ experience in process development, scale-up and technology transfer. His expertise includes solid liquid separation, microfiltration, and centrifugation.  Paul is deeply involved in many projects aimed at developing and optimising processes to extract biomolecules from natural materials.


  • Sonya Scott
    Sonya Scott

    Sonya is a Senior Scientist at AgResearch Ltd. Her professional expertise is in protein and biomaterials chemistry, including protein modification and extraction.  She has extensive knowledge of keratin materials, protein chemistry, organic synthesis, inorganic chemistry, the personal care industry, and science expertise in the area of efficacy testing. Sonya has over 12 years working with NZ based manufacturing businesses and NZ and international personal care companies (e.g. Unilever, Alberto Culver, Zotos, Shiseido, NZ Extracts, Keraplast, Oil Seed Extractions, Synlait, Waitaki Biosciences, Moana Skin Care) specialising in extraction and modification of natural constituents and their use in personal care formulation.


  • Dawn Smith
    Dawn Smith

    Dawn is the Research Leader for Polymers & Composites at Scion.  She specialises in the synthesis, characterisation, and formulation of biopolymers. Originally from the US, she worked in the biomedical device industry in R&D and new product development (CIBA Vision, Novartis). Dawn's current research is on bioplastics, unsaturated bio-based polyesters, new polymers derived from forestry residues, biomass-filled polymer systems, and packaging solutions.


  • Samir Shah
    Samir Shah

    Samir graduated with Post Graduate Degree in Plastics Processing and Testing. Samir has worked as a research and development chemist for Plastics Masterbatch Industry before joining Scion as research assistant in Biopolymer and Chemicals team. Samir’s research includes development of bio-derived and compostable foam to replace petrochemical derived foams, especially Expanded Polystyrene. He is one of the inventors for the patent - “Methods of manufacture of Polylactic acid foams”. Other research involve using bio-plastics and bio-waste to produce composite products for commercial applications.


  • Stephanie Weal
    Stephanie Weal

    Stephanie graduated from the University of Waikato with a Master of Science.  She has worked at Scion for 5 years and is currently working with the Green Processing team. Stephanie does research in Polymer Chemistry, Green Chemistry and Materials Engineering.


  • Jamie Bridson
    Jamie Bridson

    Jamie graduated from The University of Waikato with a master’s degree in chemistry and biology.  After working in New Product Development at Douglas Pharmaceuticals, He moved to Scion to take a position in the Biopolymers and Chemicals team.  Jamie's research focuses around bio-materials from New Zealand's forestry processing sector with specific interests in bark utilisation, tannin chemistry and pulp & paper by-products.  His research on bark and tannin has been part of the Biopolymer Network, a New Zealand based research company, focused on producing bio-based products for commercial applications.


  • David Hall
    David Hall

    David has an educational background in synthetic organic chemistry, and industrial experience in dairy related process development and process engineering. He is an independent technical consultant and has worked closely with the BPN for several years helping to scale up and test our ZealaFoam process.