Biographical Information

Robert Franich is based at Scion, formerly the Forest Research Institute, Rotorua. His current role is Principal Scientist with the Ensis joint venture between Scion and CSIRO, Australia. Robert graduated MSc with first class honours in chemistry and PhD (diterpenoid synthesis) from Auckland University, New Zealand, in 1970. He has interest in both science and enterprise, and in 2001, was awarded a Bright Future Enterprise Scholarship to support business studies at Unitec, New Zealand. He graduated Master in Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship in 2005.

His science and technology career at Scion has covered a wide variety of topics, including mycotoxin chemistry and disease resistance mechanisms in pine, ecological and environmental chemistry (in collaboration with the Wallenberg Laboratory, Stockhom University) through to wood materials chemistry and chemical processes, which have involved collaborative research projects in the USA, Canada, Europe and China.

From that science effort, he has produced 79 journal publications and nine patents covering wood modification, wood preservative chemistry and recently a patent applied for describing a novel wood drying and modification chemical process. Chemistry with a strong commercial focus produced Induriteä wood hardening and Greenweldä gluing technologies for new venture enterprises. Other projects in process to exploit fundamental chemical science output for new business creation include Locked-in-Boronä wood preservation chemistry and technology. A current science focus is investigating the nature of water structures within the lignocellulose nanocomposite of the supramolecular arrangement of the wood cell wall, and how these aqueous interstices might be perturbed and the consequent effect on bulk material properties.

He has been awarded Fellowships from the New Zealand Institute of Chemistry, the Royal Society of New Zealand and the International Academy of Wood Science. He has provided service to the NZIC as office holder for the Rotorua science community, and to the Royal Society as convener for the physical sciences and engineering panel for the Marsden Fund (1998 to 2001).