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Nelson, New Zealand – 27 Oct 2023 – Kimer Med co-founder and CEO, Rick Kiessig, was awarded Entrepreneur of the Year at the GEN NZ 2023 Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Awards held at GridAKL Futures Lab in Auckland last night.
The awards recognise individuals and organisations for their outstanding contributions to the New Zealand entrepreneur and innovation community.
Winners across ten categories accepted awards presented by GEN NZ Chair, Dave Moskovitz, and Tātaki Auckland Unlimited’s Manager Entrepreneur Networks, Catriona Stewart.
Moskovitz said, “The judges were impressed by Kimer Med’s work to save lives and treat painful diseases for which there are no cures, as well as their novel and technically clever approach which could eventually treat all viral diseases.”
“This award recognises Rick’s leadership, his generosity to the industry, and his encouragement of young people to engage in science and entrepreneurship. It is an award well-deserved, and we wish them well in the future,” said Moskovitz.
Kiessig, a self-confessed serial entrepreneur, took out the top award in a field of 19 nominees, after being short-listed alongside some of Aotearoa’s rising entrepreneurs – Christina Houlihan (B.spkl), Natalie Jones (Seasick Sunscreen), Mrinali Kumar (Eat Kinda), and Olivia Ogilvie (Opo Bio).
Kiessig said, “I’m surprised and delighted to accept this award, and would like to congratulate the other nominees and winners.”
“Throughout my career, I’ve had the privilege of working on some amazing and interesting projects. However, nothing I’ve done so far compares in importance to what we are doing right now at Kimer Med. We have within reach the opportunity to relieve the tremendous global suffering caused by viral diseases. I can’t imagine anything more important, exciting or impactful,” said Kiessig.
Kimer Med’s Comms and Funding Lead, Andy Clover, flew to Auckland to accept the award on Rick’s behalf, and enjoyed the opportunity to meet and connect with the innovation and entrepreneurial sector in New Zealand’s largest city.
Clover said, “It was great to make some connections with the entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem in the big smoke, and meet with lots inspiring and passionate people doing great things! Congratulations to all the nominees, finalists, and winners.”
Kimer Med is the fourteenth start-up Kiessig has been involved with. The Nelson-based biotech company has designed a platform for the rapid development of novel, broad-spectrum antivirals, a much needed weapon in the fight against viral diseases, and for future pandemic preparedness.
Kimer Med announced in June that it had achieved 100% efficacy in tests against the priority viruses Dengue and Zika, bringing to seven the total number of viruses its antivirals have been shown to work against. The company launched its series A capital raise in September 2023 to take its lead antiviral compound through phase 1 clinical trials.
Kiessig, who grew up in Silicon Valley, has had a remarkable career that includes working for NASA’s Ames Research Center on what became the Internet, and developing satellite technology for WorldView Imaging (now Maxar), who produced the high resolution satellite images used by Google Maps.
Other notable achievements include developing the Stellar Compass, software which measures the attitude of spacecraft using images of stars. The Stellar Compass has flown on NASA missions to the Moon, to a comet and back, and to Mars three times. It is currently still operational in orbit around the Red Planet on the Mars Odyssey Orbiter, which was launched in 2001.
About GEN NZ
GEN NZ is the New Zealand branch of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN), a worldwide organisation dedicated to fostering and promoting entrepreneurship and innovation. GEN operates in 180 countries as a platform that connects entrepreneurs, start-ups, investors, policymakers, researchers, and other stakeholders in the entrepreneurial ecosystem to help drive economic growth and job creation.
Find out more at: www.genglobal.org/new-zealand/nz-home