Dr. Kjesten Wiig

National Manager Commercialisation for Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), New Zealand. Dr. Wiig manages New Zealand Government’s investment in the SKA project.


New Zealand’s participation at the Square Kilometre Array Project

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project is an ambitious, international mega-science project involving over 150 organisations from 10 countries, collaborating to build the world’s largest radio telescope. The SKA radio telescope will be the largest scientific instrument on Earth, both in terms of physical scale and in terms of the volume of data it will generate. New Zealand is participating in the SKA project as the work we do for the project will result in new and revolutionary technologies which could have significant economic benefits for New Zealand institutions and businesses. In addition, the project represents an opportunity for international attention and recognition. New Zealand is playing a significant role in the project via both Board participation and contributions to the Science Data Processor and Central Signal Processor work packages. This work is progressing well and is showing promise for prospective developments. Future participation in the project will be based on the economic benefit for New Zealand institutions and businesses. High quality work during the current pre-construction phase that affords the identification of significant business opportunities for New Zealand will aid in justifying continued government investment for this project.


Dr Kjesten Wiig, a scientist by training, has over 15 years of experience working in the competitive US drug development industry. She began her career by working for Sention, a company that was spun out of Brown University on the basis of her post-doctoral research. Kjesten was the company’s first employee and was responsible for setting up the company. She directed Sention’s preclinical neuropharmacology programme and was also heavily involved in intellectual property processes, obtaining angel and venture capital financial support, new drug applications to the FDA and the advancement of compounds into clinical trials.

Kjesten then went on to Galenea, a spin-out company from MIT, where she was the director of the neuropharmacology/pre-clinical research team, and was responsible for the strategic scientific development of multiple compounds across several indication areas. These included schizophrenia, Huntington’s Disease, autism and obesity. Kjesten participated in the intellectual property strategy and business development work, and managed major collaborations with universities, contract research organisations and pharmaceutical companies. Kjesten now brings her experience in creating value out of science to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment where she serves as the National Manager of Commercialisation.