The Takapuna-based drug company claimed top honours at the 2011 Westpac Auckland North Business Awards at the competition’s annual Gala Dinner held last night.
AFT Pharmaceuticals Ltd, a locally owned pharmaceutical company, won the overall title Westpac Supreme Business Excellence Award after earlier winning the Ministry of Science and Innovation Excellence in Design, Research & Development Award.
More than 620 local business people gathered at the North Shore Events Centre to celebrate this year’s winners and recognise business success amongst the north Auckland business community for the 14th year.
Auckland Mayor Len Brown believes the awards are a taste of the overall business community’s success.
“Congratulations to all the 2011 winners. It is great to see these businesses sharing their stories with the local community and reveling in their success,” says Mayor Brown.
“These awards continue to showcase the enormous amount of business skill and success that flows throughout north Auckland and the whole region. Each winner epitomises the innovation, productivity, flair, talent and ambition that Auckland needs to capitalise on to be a force on the global stage.”
Established in 1997 and operating from a humble garage, AFT headquarters are now operated in Takapuna and turned over more than $36 million in the last financial year.
With its primary market currently in New Zealand and Australia, AFT plans to use its range of research and development products to expand internationally. Over the past five years AFT has invested in drug development and has already launched two of its own products into the New Zealand market, an analgesic called Maxigesic and an allergic rhinitis treatment called Maxiclear Hayfever & Sinus Relief.
Founder and Managing Director Dr Hartley Atkinson believes the potential for developing pharmaceuticals is huge and not yet fully appreciated in New Zealand by many government agencies.
“When we visit board rooms of major Multinational Pharma Companies in the USA and Europe there is genuine surprise that a company from New Zealand can be involved in drug development and manage to address some problems that they have not. It is certainly not something that is top of mind to them,” says Dr Atkinson.
“Although there are a number of drugs coming off patent, there is still real potential in using innovation to improve on many treatments that already exist. A single successful drug can generate sales of literally hundreds of millions of dollars hence the prize is attractive and worth pursuing.”
In congratulating AFT and all the category winners Westpac’s General Manager Business Banking, Ian Blair, said the local community will benefit from the businesses success.
“All communities, just like north Auckland, thrive off the success of fellow businesses. Success brings inspiration and shared knowledge that can assist all businesses to grow and improve. Westpac is proud to support the Westpac Auckland North Business Awards as an invaluable tool to celebrate, commemorate and coax heightened community success,” says Mr Blair.
Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development facilitates these awards and Manager Business Development – North, Ngaio Merrick, is delighted with this year’s winners.
“It is a fantastic sign that we have a broad spectrum of winners this year that represent a host of industries from the north Auckland area. It not only shows diversity, but consistency of business excellence across the wider business community,” says Ms Merrick.
“Congratulations to AFT Pharmaceuticals and all our 2011 winners. To achieve success of this magnitude should be celebrated and applauded.”