Polymer chemistry

We develop new renewable polymers and work closely with industry to formulate functional chemicals into delivery vehicles for novel uses and new markets.

Photograph of polymer molecules

Polymers have a vast range of industrial uses—they are fundamental in the formulation of coatings, paint and adhesives, as well as agricultural and animal health products. At the Ferrier Research Institute, our research programme is centred on making and using novel renewable materials to enable our collaborators and industry partners to create new and improved products and applications.

New reactive polymers

In recent research, we have developed and patented two new reactive polymer systems that are benign, renewable and water soluble. Because they incorporate levulinic acid, a renewably derived building block, they are capable of being cross-linked to form macromolecular networks. Incorporation of these materials into new and existing products will increase their renewable content.

So far we have established potential applications in paint formulations and therapeutic delivery systems, and as new film forming agents and rheology modifiers.

Our current studies focus on:

  • controlled release of animal therapeutics
  • stable dispersions for architectural coatings
  • formulation of pesticide treatments.


Glucosaminoglycans (GAGs) are complex, highly charged, natural polymers. In conjunction with our international partners, we are researching and developing analytical methods and production technologies for a range of GAG molecules with biomedical applications.

Industrial partners

We work closely with New Zealand and international businesses. We contract our expertise and license our technology to help them develop new products for new markets.

Formulation technology forms a key part of many manufacturing businesses. Our goal is to generate novel materials and methodologies to support these formulation-dependent businesses. They can benefit from our advice and expertise, and commercialise the materials we create for their products.

We are proud to have ongoing relationships with:

  • A*STAR, Institute of Medical Biology (biomedical research)
  • Argenta Manufacturing Limited (animal health)
  • D’Arcy Polychrome Limited (pigments)
  • Nuplex Industries Limited (industrial chemicals)
  • The Population Council (pharmaceutical development)
  • Resene Paints Limited (coatings)
  • Zelam Limited (crop and timber protection).

Read more about our industrial chemistry programme.

New technologies

We are developing novel liposomes and micelles tailored to industrial and health applications.

Our research into making renewable, cellulose-based materials is ongoing. We are also developing new cost-effective processes suitable for large scale industrial manufacturing.


We are a team of chemists and chemical engineers, with expertise in synthetic organic, polysaccharide, analytical and polymer chemistry, as well as chemical and process engineering.

This broad base of knowledge in chemistry and experience in solving problems enables us to creatively and pragmatically devise commercialisation-ready solutions for our clients.

Client comment

"It’s been a fantastic experience for us—they are a superb collaborative team. In fact, we liked them so much that we offered Cameron a job, and now he works for us!

"I’m not a scientist, but I had confidence that they could make the formulation work. Now they’ve helped us take the product out of the lab and onto the street. We will continue to work with them in any capacity we can."

Rachel Lacy, D’Arcy Polychrome (drikolor®)