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Photo: Dr Jason Turuwhenua (left), Dr Ehsan Vaghefi

The Government-funded Science for Technological Innovation Challenge (SfTI) was launched in 2015.  The mission for this enterprise is to “grow a hi-tech New Zealand economy via the physical sciences and engineering”.

Two of the 21 projects granted seed funding in 2019 belong to SOVS academic staff Dr Jason Turuwhenua and Dr Ehsan Vaghefi, who will receive $200,000 each for their projects. The announcement was made on 11 June by Directors Sally Davenport and Bruce MacDonald who noted that “the level of interest in this Seed project funding round was the highest to date, with 133 proposals received”.

The successful projects are:

A platform device for vision testing applications
Dr Jason Turuwhenua
University of Auckland, $200,000
Developing a new mobile device to improve vision testing measurements, in which eye movements are assessed independently of head movements. The new mobile technology will particularly improve vision testing of children and others who have difficulty describing their symptoms.

Building a clinically validated AI classifier to assist the national Diabetic Eye Screening program
Dr Ehsan Vaghefi
University of Auckland, $200,000
Developing an AI-enabled diabetes screening protocol, combined with a low-cost interior eye surface (fundus) camera to reach people with diabetes who may not be taking advantage of the public Diabetic Eye Screening program.