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Student-led STEM initiative launches in Manawatū


Chiasma-launch-Manawatu-2021

L to R: Rory Besaans, Imche Fourie, Sean Mackay, Conor McLean, Ben Westberry, Ruby Roach, Ella Moffat, Sam Lockwood-Geck, Kellie Gosper, Sophie Burling, Dan Carlisle, Kyle Webster, and Jessica Chiang.


Chiasma Manawatū has burst into the enterprise ecosystem in Palmerston North with a packed and high energy launch at Te Manawa.

More than 80 students and professionals from a range of science, technology, engineering and mathematic (STEM) disciplines attended this month’s launch, which featured home-brewed beer made by students from the Technology and Engineering Society (Techensoc).

Chiasma is a tertiary student-led initiative championing science, innovation and enterprise through connections between academia and the wider STEM industries. The Manawatū branch joins existing Chiasma centres in Auckland, Wellington, and Dunedin, which together have more than 3500 student and industry members. Chiasma aims to equip graduates with the practical skills and networks to develop an enterprise mindset and realise their entrepreneurial ambitions. This is achieved through a series of social, networking and educational events and site visits to industry locations.

Chiasma Manawatū Chief Executive Sam Lockwood-Geck says Manawatū has a huge amount of research and scientific capacity and it is an incredible opportunity to establish Chiasma’s newest home.

Mr Lockwood-Geck is studying his Masters in Engineering (Mechatronics) at Massey University and developed a passion for student enterprise in his undergraduate study where he joined an International Horticultural Immersion Program trip to Europe and South Korea to learn more about enterprise in the horticulture industry. Curiosity piqued, and he organised industry funding to visit 16 universities in North America and Europe recognised for their excellence in student enterprise ecosystems. Between November 2019 and February 2020, he conducted 75 interviews with international experts in the enterprise field culminating in a recently released report on how New Zealand universities could emulate their success.

He is joined on the Chiasma Manawatū executive by Chief Financial Officer Ruby Roach, Chief Operations Officer Sophie Burling, Industry lead and Secretary Ben Westberry, and Dan Carlisle, Ella Moffat and Kellie Gosper who share the events and marketing portfolios. Ella Moffat is also the current president of the Massey University Student Enterprise club, MUSE Manawatū.

Chiasma-launch-Thomas-Jan-2021

Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas, Professor Palatasa Havea and Dr Caroline Giezenaar attend the Chiasma Manawatū launch event.


Massey University has shown strong institutional support to the launch of Chiasma in the Manawatū. Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas, Provost Professor Giselle Byrnes and Dean Enterprise Dr Gavin Clark, all attended the launch event along with Ruth Jackson, Conor McLean and Dr Sean Mackay from the Manawatū campus team, who support student enterprise and commercialisation activities.

Professor Thomas told attendees, “It’s really wonderful to see the leadership, energy and creativity in the Chiasma initiative. This kind of entrepreneurialism is exactly what Aotearoa is known for, and the impact of this initiative will make a huge difference. Massey University is proud to support Chiasma.”

Dr Clark agreed, “Massey is delighted to play a part in enabling the national student enterprise movement that is Chiasma.”

Successful New Zealand entrepreneurs who credit Chiasma with inspiring and facilitating their achievements spoke at the launch, including investment company Level Two Chief Executive Imche Fourie, BioFab NZ Chief Science Officer Jessica Chiang and tech start-up Litmaps Chief Executive Kyle Webster, who is revolutionising literature searches.

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