A device developed as a student project is set to have an explosive impact on the global wine industry.
The Wine Grenade, a hand-held device designed to accelerate the ageing process of wine so it reaches the market faster and more cheaply, was created by students at the University of Auckland.
The five Master of Commercialisation and Entrepreneurship (MCE) degree students were given a release valve designed to provide a constant flow of ethylene to ripen bananas, and invited to develop it into a business.
Eighteen months later the students had developed and tested the Wine Grenade, which mimics the oxygen exposure wine usually receives in oak barrels.
The device can be dropped into wine being matured in steel tanks, where it slowly releases tiny amounts of oxygen through a moving permeable membrane. A mobile app enables winemakers to track progress and control the maturation process remotely.
The Wine Grenade won the University of Auckland’s Dragon’s Den-style business competition and was highly commended in the start-up category of the New Zealand Innovation Awards.
New Zealand tertiary institutions have strong links with industry, enabling students to gain valuable work experience and develop a network of contacts before they graduate.
The MCE programme features guest speakers, case studies and applied assignments to strengthen students’ understanding of the commercialisation process.
The students behind the Wine Grenade explored market validation, technical validation and intellectual property protection during their studies, which gave them the tools and confidence to launch their product into the marketplace.
The Wine Grenade is now attracting interest from winemakers around the world.