The 2013 Comvita Science Symposium

“Comvita on the Move – The Science of Exercise and Nutrition” was the theme of the 5th Comvita Science Symposium. Held at The University of Auckland, the symposium showcased the broad research topics the Comvita Science Network is covering. Comvita co-founder and Director Alan Bougen opened the event with a strong emphasis on Comvita’s founding values.

The symposium had  three sessions:

• Nutrition and Exercise Science
• New Frontiers of Natural Products
• Through the Eyes of Consumers

In the first session’s speakers presented on how nutrition and exercise influences our health. Comvita Move Project Manager Vazishta Antia ( a graduate from The University of Auckland’s Master of Bioscience Enterprise program), shared the results from the first Comvita Move trial where 30 participants were given Olive Leaf Extract (OLE) and a smart pedometer to exercise. Some participants have reported a dramatically positive life change. This trial was recently featured in Pharmacy Today.

The second session had a series of short, punchy research presentations, ranging from Propolis, honey, Olive Leaf Extract and natural skin care to medical honey research. The presentations informed the audience about the current research advances made in the natural products industry.

In the third session, speakers discussed the use of new tools such as Gamification concepts and the Stanford University Design Thinking Process which can facilitate positive changes to people’s lifestyles.

One of the speakers in this session was the founder of Metia Interactive, Maru Nihoniho , who talked about SPARX. SPARX is a game designed at The University of Auckland to treat adolescent depression and has produced very successful outcomes. A clinical trial on SPARX  was published in the British Medical Journal in a paper titled, “The effectiveness of SPARX, a computerised self help intervention for adolescents seeking help for depression: randomised controlled non-inferiority trial”.

Comvita is actively researching how to use novel methods to positively influence people’s lifestyles for a healthier society.

To summarise…

This year’s symposium was very different from previous symposiums due to the way a broad spectrum of topics were tied together under the umbrella of innovation in preventative healthcare.

The presentation topics were not only about the science, but also about the integration of expert knowledge in multiple areas such as nutrition and exercise research and behavioural psychology, as well as natural products science in a way that creates meaningful outcomes for  consumers.

To see more pictures from the symposium, please click HERE and for enquiries regarding future symposiums, please email

Heidi Darcy giving her presentation

Deeply engaged audience