Top NZ scientist talks about entrepreneurship and the role of universities

20 November 2017
" "
Cather Simpson (right) with students in the Photon Factory lab

What is the role of universities today? Along with discovering new knowledge and educating the next generation, should professors also be drivers of economic development? What is an entrepreneurial academic?

Professor Cather Simpson from the University of Auckland is a leading physicist and chemist whose pioneering work provides a fascinating window into the future of new technologies and the boundary where business and academia meet.

She gives her inaugural professorial lecture this week and will talk about her work and career and the laser laboratory she founded that has evolved into an internationally-recognised research hub focused on innovation and commercial enterprise.

Professor Simpson holds a wide range of science appointments across New Zealand research organisations including the MacDiarmid Institute and the Dodd Walls Centre for Photonic and Quantum Technologies.

She founded The Photon Factory, based at the University of Auckland which uses laser technology to develop new applications for industry that provide better and cheaper solutions to key problems.

The Photon Factory’s first spin-out company, Engender Technologies, screens sperm for dairy herds according to sex which means fewer bobby calves. Professor Simpson says collaboration with industry has been vital for success.

“Governments and universities are moving away from the traditional ‘ivory tower’ model to one where success is also defined by impact but there are both benefits and tensions in doing that and I want to talk about what those might be and how we deal with them.”

Professor Simpson is a passionate believer in making science accessible to people of all ages and from all walks of life.

Lecture details:
5pm Wednesday 22 November
Large Chemistry Theatre (301-G050)
Ground Floor, Building 301
23 Symonds Street, Auckland
Event listing


For more information contact:

Anne Beston  |  Media Relations Adviser, Communications, University of Auckland
Email:, Tel: +64 9 923 3258, Mobile: + 64 (0) 21 970 089