Faculty of Science

Advanced Technology Enterprise

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The Master of Advanced Technology Enterprise (MATE) is an interdisciplinary one year research programme, the first of its kind in New Zealand. The programme explores the relationship between scientific research and commercial product development by establishing teams developing high-value enterprises from research projects with real commercial potential.

“The programme places an appropriate and perhaps unique balance between understanding and skill building. This will deliver great insight for students of the practical aspects of commercialising technology, the potential formation of actual start-up companies, and the real-world challenges of being a successful entrepreneur.”
Steve O’Connor, CEO, Creative HQ, Wellington

Through its unique practical approach, the programme explores the many challenges of creating successful technology enterprises, such as coping with an extended development time-frame and technology risks, balancing the often conflicting relationship between research and commercial product development, and applying best practice business activities focussed around advanced technology.


Our students talk about the programme

Combining individual expertise into a multi-disciplinary enterprise team

The MATE programme is open to graduates of science, engineering, design, commerce and law, and graduates from other disciplines with appropriate backgrounds. MATE creates an entrepreneurial team environment to allow students to gain knowledge, skills and experience in taking an advanced technology to market.

Within the enterprise, each student assumes individual responsibilities that, when combined, form a dynamic team capable of developing a viable product concept. Students from any discipline are invited to apply to the MATE programme. In each case the individual will inject specific discipline expertise into the team. Their role will draw on expertise gained from previous study and work experiences, and will be shaped by the needs of the particular project and enterprise.


MATE for scientists

Scientists are the link between scientific research and the advanced technology enterprise. Goals of research and commerce are quite different, so the scientist must manage the relationship with the research team and ensure that research and commercial development activities are mutually compatible. The scientist understands the scientific method and, while they may not possess expertise in the particular research science, they become the technology expert within the enterprise.

MATE for engineers

The engineer in the advanced technology enterprise is charged with turning ideas into reality. The engineer assimilates requirements from marketing and design, recognises the scientific limitations, and creates a state-of-the-art technical product. The iterative cycle that follows develops promising prototypes into desirable, robust and manufacturable products. The engineer uses a variety of skills from networking, material, mechanical, electronic or software engineering and synthesises, evaluates and creates throughout the product development phases to manage the innovation process.

MATE for designers

Developing scientific research into a usable and attractive product is the designers role within the technology enterprise. The designer works closely with marketing and engineering to establish technical capabilities and end user requirements. The scientific research that forms the product may initially have little focus on the end user, so building a coherent user experience, producing the physical product design, and developing the overall brand of the product and enterprise are significant challenges.

MATE for business specialists

Business specialists within the enterprise develop and apply best practice business activities around the developing technology. Incorporating market-driven validation into a technology driven enterprise is a particular challenge for research commercialisation. Business specialists work closely with all other team members to create a strategy that recognises the competitive advantages and limitations of the technology, and its unique marketing and financial requirements, to position the enterprise for future commercial success.

MATE for law specialists

Intellectual property protection is critical for the advanced technology enterprise—what to protect, when to protect it, and how to protect it. The legal specialist within the enterprise must balance the requirements of research—where publication is required, and business—where protection of ideas is valued. They must also manage confidentiality for the enterprise as other resources are engaged, establish knowledge of prior art, and freedom to operate within the field. As the enterprise develops, input into its legal strategy and development of strategic partnerships become important.

“This is the only programme of its kind in New Zealand where students from a wide range of disciplines can come together and work in an essentially real-world environment, to develop an advanced technology business concept.”
Professor Kate McGrath, Director, McDiarmid Institute

Supervision, mentoring and governance for the teams and individuals within the MATE programme is provided by staff from throughout Victoria University of Wellington, and by external commercial partners. Students learn from experienced technology entrepreneurs, academics and business experts, and build their own professional support network.


Graduates ready to lead New Zealand technology enterprises

At the end of the year, teams present their enterprise to an audience of VUW staff, external programme supporters and potential investors. They aim to prove value added and development of the research towards a viable product—to secure further investment for the enterprise.

Individual research builds on the student’s prior knowledge. Research investigates the role of a discipline expert within a multi-disciplinary team, the team function, and entrepreneurship within an advanced technology enterprise. Students create a Master’s research thesis focussed on their role, and aligned with the team outcomes.

Graduates leave having developed their discipline-specific skills within an advanced technology enterprise, added a deep understanding of advanced technology business practice, and developed into confident professionals capable of leading the next wave of new technology businesses.

“We have 10 [advanced technology] companies exporting $4 billion. Why not 100? One hundred inspired entrepreneurs can transform this country into a creative, innovative dynamo.”
The late Professor Sir Paul Callaghan

Course outline (220KB, PDF)


Entry requirements

  1. A four-year degree, honours degree or relevant postgraduate diploma with a B+ average at 400-level from a university in New Zealand or, at the discretion of the Associate Dean (Students) of the Faculty of Science, another university
  2. Approved by the Programme Director and the MAdvTecEnt Board of Studies as capable of proceeding with the proposed programme of study.
  3. Requirement 1 may be waived by the Associate Dean (Students) of the Faculty of Science, for a candidate who has had extensive practical, professional or scholarly experience of an appropriate kind.

Programme requirements

1. The course of study for the MAdvTecEnt shall consist of courses worth at least 135 points, comprising:

  • Part 1: ATEN 501 - a 15-point course run intensively over 4 weeks 
  • Part 2:  ATEN 591 - a 120-point thesis and development of business plan pitched to an investment panel

2. Entry to Part 2 requires the successful completion of Part 1 with at least a B+ grade and acceptance by the Programme Director and Board of Studies.

3. Candidates must:

  • enrol full-time for Part 1 and Part 2; and
  • complete Part 1 and enrol in Part 2 in consecutive trimesters. 


  1. Apply online
  2. Programme start date is 2 March 2015

Application/Enquiry contact details

David Bibby, Programme Director
david.bibby@vuw.ac.nz  04-463 5509

Shona de Sain, Associate Dean (Students & Postgraduate Research)
shona.desain@vuw.ac.nz  04-463 5092