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Government-funded Callaghan Innovation offering $50,000 drone competition prize

08 Apr 15

Government-funded Callaghan Innovation has launched a competition with $50,000 up for grabs to develop unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology for the film and screen industry.

Callaghan Innovation chief executive Mary Quin said the inaugural C-Prize is aimed at boosting New Zealand's position at the forefront of UAV technology and helping keep the country's screen industry competitive.

"Increasingly directors are using unmanned aircraft to capture new visual perspectives to tell their stories," Quin said.

That trend, combined with New Zealand leading the world on progressive regulation for drone flights, presents an opportunity to Kiwi innovators to commercialise world-leading UAV technology that solves technical challenges and opportunities identified by the film industry, she said.

Those challenges include improving their ability to record and reproduce high-definition sound, operate in rough weather, and track objects for augmented reality and visual effects purposes.

New Zealand-based students and innovators have until July 5 to submit initial concepts to overcome these challenges, which will be judged by a panel of industry, technology and commercialisation experts. Those with concepts that make it through the first round will get $10,000 and support to further develop them into prototypes.

The overall winner - announced in December - gets $50,000 plus a trip to exhibit at the 2016 National Association of Broadcasters trade show in Las Vegas, the largest international trade show for media content and technology.

Innovation prizes had a good track record internationally for stimulating progress in technically-challenging industries such as space flight and Quin said she hoped the C-Prize competition will do the same for New Zealand's emerging UAV sector.

(Businessdesk is funded by Callaghan Innovation to write about the commercialisation of innovation).

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