Meet the Founder - Winealyse

It’s estimated that wineries around New Zealand spend around $80 million each year on testing. One start-up is looking to save costs and give winemakers more time to focus on winemaking and less time in the lab with its testing device.

Winealyse is a venture developing a capillary microfluidic wine testing device for the improvement of wine quality.

Meet the founder Daniel Mak. He is one of the start-ups taking part in our three-month Sprout 2022 Accelerator in the Cohort IX intake.

“The wine industry in New Zealand is huge and is important for our economy, so if we can help winemakers produce top quality wine through improved, accurate, simple and more affordable testing, then that’s a huge win.”

Winealyse is Daniel’s PhD project, and while he and his supervisors saw promise in the idea, it wasn’t until he took part in the Innovation Jump Start Challenge at the University of Canterbury and won a prize that he realised other people saw promise in it too.

“Suddenly, it wasn’t just something a few people thought had value, and I realised that perhaps this could really become something.”

The device he’s developing delves into the world of ‘deep tech’ and requires a lot of research and development to ensure he hits his goals of simplicity and accuracy.

“We’ve developed and patented a new valve type for our particular technology, which is instrumental in improving the control of liquids in the devices.”

While savvy on the technology and science side of the house and well supported by his supervisors, University of Canterbury Professor Renwick Dobson and Associate Professor Volker Nock, and Dr Tanya Rutan from Bragato Research Institute in Marlborough, the commercialisation part of the business has been an interesting new experience.

“Learning how to do market validation and talking to customers, pitching and preparing the whole business aspect is outside the regular scope of a PhD. There’s been a lot of learning from other people with that expertise.”

He’s hoping to expand his team further to cover those knowledge gaps and help him achieve his goal of capturing as much of the market as possible, starting in New Zealand and quickly scaling to wineries globally. 

“That’s where Sprout is a huge help for the venture. I’m hoping it will help connect me with the right people I need to cover skill gaps and accelerate.”

Winealyse wasn’t always the name of this business venture. It started off having a longer research title, appropriate given it’s part of a PhD project.

“When I went into the Food, Fibre and Agritech challenge, they came back to us and said nope, unacceptable,  we need a short, snapping name for your business that will fit in the booklet. We had a sit-down session with an FFA mentor, and Winealyse came out the other end.”

Find out more about Sprout Accelerator.