Nyriad raises $8.5 million for GPU-based resilient storage arrays

Nyriad has raised $8.5 million in venture capital for its resilient storage systems that are accelerated using graphics processing units (GPUs). Those storage systems are built to handle problems such as the simultaneous removal or failure of 20 hard disks at the same time.

The Cambridge, New Zealand-based company has now raised more than $11 million to date for its Nsulate software for managing large-scale storage arrays in data centers. The company is targeting the release of its first product in the first quarter of 2018.

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Invert Robotics raises $6.4 mln from private investors

Christchurch-based robot maker Invert Robotics raised more than $6 million from private investors as it expands into Europe and branches out into other sectors.

The company first raised $740,000 through crowdfunding platform Equitise in May 2016 and has now raised $6.4 million from private investors from Australia and New Zealand, including former Macquarie Group chief Allan Moss. Powerhouse Ventures is still the robot maker’s biggest shareholder, with 23 percent of the company, according to Companies Office filings. The New Zealand Venture Investment Fund (NZVIF) is the second largest with 14.5 percent followed by Guildford Investments with 5.3 percent.

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Upside Biotechnologies wins $409k research grant

Upside Biotechnologies, a regenerative tissue developer spun out of Auckland University, has won a $409,000 research grant to prepare its PelliCel product for a clinical trial and deepening its existing relationship with the US Army.

Auckland-based Upside, which raised $2.3 million last year, won the Medical Technology Enterprise Consortium (MTEC) prototype acceleration award, it said in a statement. The biotech firm is developing an advanced skin replacement treatment for burn victims, enabling a small sample of unburnt skin to be grown in a lab and used as skin grafts for patients who don’t have enough uninjured skin for a conventional graft.

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Visitor management software company SwipedOn raises $1m, plans global growth while championing Tauranga and sustainability

Raising $1 million is an achievement for any company. But Tauranga-based visitor management software company SwipedOn has even greater ambitions.

It’s a problem many of us can relate to: you work in an office or own a business, and you have people coming and going who need to sign in for health and safety reasons. Or, you are a visitor. And you don’t have a pen. First World problems maybe, but talk about an inconvenience – not to mention a potential safety issue if building managers don’t know who is in their building and something happens.

Of course, electronic sign-ins are kind of a thing now – as anyone who has visited an office lately can probably attest. But did you know one of the biggest players in this industry happens to be a Tauranga-based company? And that their sign-in application has been used by more than five million people around the world? And that they’ve just raised a million dollars?

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New Zealand researchers developing non-addictive alternative to opioids as an anaesthetic

Kiwi researchers developing a new anaesthetic as an alternative to highly-addictive opioids have been given an $8 million boost.

The Medical Research Commercialisation Fund today announced an investment of $8 million in Series A funding to allow the developers to set up Kea Therapeutics Ltd, an early stage pharmaceutical company which is developing the drug.

Kea Therapeutics is a spin-off from the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre and Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences Waikato Clinical Campus, University of Auckland.

The investment, the first from the fund for a New Zealand company, would allow the company to commercialise its substitute for strong opioids in a range of clinical scenarios from pre-hospital to post-surgical pain relief and sedation.

Medical Research Commercialisation Fund investment manager Duncan Mackintosh said non-opioid pain relief was urgently needed for the management of severe pain.

“Opioids have a range of unwanted side effects, are highly-addictive and are causing a global epidemic of dependency on this type of pain medication. Kea’s approach offers the potential for a safer alternative to opioids for the management of pain that is not addictive and could be used in a wider range of clinical settings.”
Anaesthetist, Professor Jamie Sleigh from the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences Waikato Clinical Campus, recognised the need for non-opioid pain relief alternatives.

Working with medicinal chemist Distinguished Professor Bill Denny at the Auckland Cancer Society Research Centre, they initiated an integrated drug discovery programme to develop a new drug which retained the positive, pain relieving features of ketamine, while removing significant side effects that limited its broader clinical use.

Denny said opioid tolerance and abuse was now such a huge problem, particularly in America, an alternative was needed.

About 15 per cent of patients were now tolerant to opioids because of previous abuse, he said.
Denny and Sleigh started working on the drug in 2010 after Sleigh suggested there must be a way to use ketamine as an anaesthetic without the nasty side effects which included hallucinations.

“The problem with ketamines, adults say it’s a terrible experience and they don’t want to use it again,” Denny said.

They had now developed an analog of it which would put people to sleep but allow them to wake up as soon as the infusion was stopped, with no psychosis.

The drug had been tested on rats with success and Denny hoped they would now be able to start clinical trials in about a year.

Evelyn Body, UniServices director of commercialisation for biotechnology and board member of Kea Therapeutics, said Kea Therapeutics wanted “to transform the pain relief industry with a much-needed, non-opioid approach” and the funding would help them get to clinical testing and then on to the global pharmaceutical market.

First published-NZ Herald 13th December 2017

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New Zealand’s Utility Electric Vehicle, UBCO, now on-road and offshore

After successfully raising NZ$4.20M earlier this year, including NZ$1.40M from US investors, Spring Capital and successful technology entrepreneurs Bob and Ethan Ralston, UBCO is now growing their global market both on- and off-road. The off-road market in North America alone is estimated at US$12.7bn (including both 2 and 4-wheel drive vehicles) and the on-road market is about US$6.21bn USD.

Over the last year funds have been spent on R&D, market development, marketing and operating costs. The results are looking good both in product and market outputs.

In May 2017 UBCO Bikes USA, LLC was established in Eugene, Oregon as a dedicated distributor of all Ubco products in the USA. Subsequently, a dealer network has been established across a number of US states, from Oregon to Mississippi, including BMW and John Deere dealership groups. With 120 units dispatched to the US to date, and a further 90 units on-order, the size and frequency of orders is increasing.

In Australia, UBCO appointed a national distributor that is focussed on rural agricultural equipment and there is already a 20′ container of 2018 2x2s being distributed across Australia.

The latest UBCO 2×2 is a road registerable Utility Electric Vehicle that is classified as a moped/scooter/motor-driven cycle globally and can be driven on-road with as little as a learner car driving license. The new model has been significantly upgraded with proprietary design, parts, and improved electrical integration it has improved strength, durability, ride comfort as well as higher performing motors and improved sealing.

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$1.75 million boost to new Kiwi company Thematic

Kiwi company Thematic has received additional $1.75 million in seed funding to add to its already impressive list of clients just six months after launching.

The company, which uses artificial intelligence to take the leg-work out of analysing survey data, was started by husband and wife team Alyona Medelyan and Nathan Holmberg.

They were recently accepted into one of the world’s most exclusive startup accelerator programmes, Y Combinator, where they had the opportunity to pitch their business plan to Silicon Valley’s biggest names.

The company today announced it had received $1.75m in seed funding, led by venture capital firm AirTree Ventures. The fledgling business also received an investment from Y Combinator as well as a number of individuals and San Francisco-based angel investors.

Thematic already has big-name customers in six countries including Vodafone, Air New Zealand, Stripe, Ableton and Manpower Group.

“The aim is to grow the business further globally. The business is investing in new engineering, sales and marketing staff to fuel its growth,” the company said in a statement.

The founders now want to set up an office in the United States and start hiring sales people.
Thematic specialises in analysis of “free text” responses to targeted questions, which are the hardest to analyse.

“Our technology helps businesses to understand what their customers are saying at scale. It’s one thing to collect an NPS [net promoter score], it’s a whole different ball game to deeply understand the specific issues and themes driving that score,” the statement said.

Thematic’s technology enables clients to take into account written customer feedback —
the part of the survey that actually told companies what they were doing right and wrong.

Medelyan has a PHD in natural language processing and machine learning, while her husband and business partner, Holmberg, quit his job as chief architect for leading music software company Serato once the couple realised the technology’s potential.

First published in NZ Herald – 29th November 2017

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Conscious Consumers raises $2m, sets sights on UK

In one of the biggest capital raises for a social enterprise in New Zealand ever, Conscious Consumers has attracted $2 million of investment for their upcoming launch into the United Kingdom. but what might it mean for the health of the industry?

Jamie Newth, from impact investment specialists Soul Capital, is a lead investor in the business, which connects ‘conscious’ consumers with ethical retailers. “It’s no surprise that this is one of the largest capital raises in history for a New Zealand social enterprise,” says Newth. “Internationally, ethical spending is on the rise, and home-grown companies like Conscious Consumers are well-placed to promote their product to a global audience. There has been a huge amount of interest from UK investors.”

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StartToday considers whether StretchSense fits

This has been a great year for validation of angel backed ventures. Angel investors in StretchSense are delighted with the traction this venture is getting.

StretchSense, a New Zealand-based wearable sensor manufacturer spun out from University of Auckland, revealed yesterday that it had agreed a call option to be acquired by e-commerce portal StartToday.

StartToday already owns a 39.9% stake in the spinout ad would pay $72m for the remaining shares.

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Waiheke Angel Summit Reflections

The best things about this year’s angel summit…

The annual summit always reinforces why angel investment is my thing.

Angel investors are unapologetically optimistic, creative, generous and ambitious. And our community cares… to their bone marrow, those involved in early stage investment care! These people are ambitious for the success of the founders and ventures they are working with and they are genuinely ambitious for New Zealand.

Kiwi early stage investors want to see the incredibly cool stuff we do in New Zealand get out to the world, they want to help create fabulous jobs in New Zealand, they want to contribute to raising our living standards and to the creation of role models for our budding entrepreneurs.

I came away super-chuffed about the real pride in our New Zealand-ness which imbued this year’s event. It really feels like we are at the tipping point of cracking serious success. New Zealand innovators and founders are absolutely worth backing.

And guess what? At the same time as we begin to acknowledge the real value of being kiwi, we get a bunch of proof points that kiwi founders and innovation really does deliver. The ventures angel investors have been helping to scale are becoming more and more appealing to others. This year Apple bought PowerbyProxi, US-based Clarivate bought Publons and UK-based Oxford Metrics bought IMeasureU.

Key themes at the summit which will help us continue to amp up the appeal and success of angel backed companies include:
• genuinely put the founder first – be empathetic, be accessible and be truly aligned;
• start with the end in mind and work unrelentingly towards it – together;
• know what it’s going to take to achieve liquidity – deeply understand your capital strategy and potential acquirers;
• actively manage your portfolio; and
• at all times focus on adding value.

In a future post I want to dig deeper into how angels best support founders to deliver the dreams they have to change the world. But to augment the take-outs from this year’s event I’ve extracted couple of quotes and insights from some of our keynote speakers.

Ian Taylor – Animation Research Limited
• Bugger the boxing, pour the concrete anyway
• Well it wasn’t a failure… it just didn’t work

Deb Hall – New Zealand ‘angeling’
• By the end of 2006, NZVIF recorded 55 deals and $30m of investment. By the end of 2016 nearly 1000 deals have been done, with $484m invested in nearly 200 companies.
• Over half the angel community spend more than a day week mentoring and supporting founders.

Phil McCaw and Andy Hamilton – what’s next
• Phil – “I see a bright future. As a country and a world we are going through a process of massive social change. The capitalist model is going to reshape and be reborn”
• Andy – “New Zealand will be way better off, the more angels we have.”

Bruno Bordignon – term sheets
• Context is everything. Always ask ‘how does this term or will this term apply to me/the stage of my venture/the sector it’s in/the growth plan I have/the liquidity plan I have.

Justin Milano – exponential mindsets and the triangle of founder expansion
• Shift anxiety and the need to control uncontrollable outcomes to selfless service and generosity. How am I being asked to serve today? There is always something you can do to add value.
• Shift from beating yourself up to a growth mind-set. Be kind to yourself. It’s all about learning, growing and embracing challenges.
• Shift from a head space of “I am my company” [or investment] and free yourself from self- importance. Acknowledge you are not your company [or investment] and instead accept that “this mission is bigger than me” and adopt a sense of humility.

Ron Weissman – the importance of capital strategy
• Don’t ignore the boring stuff like capital models and capital risks. These are the key to success.
• Key capital risks include: capital inefficiency, no follow-on investors, misaligned investors, larger liquidation preference shares, management carve outs.
• Only 15% of angel backed companies achieve an exit of greater than $US50m.

Dan Bernstein – building exit value
• Mistakes made when ventures are being bought: having only one buyer, there is internal company conflict, poor due diligence preparation, poor qualification and management of buyers, ego, greed and arrogance, maximising profit and minimising growth.

Richard Dellabarca – managing your portfolio for returns
• A lack of exits is unsustainable for the ecosystem. Capital needs to be recycled.
• SCIF2.0 will focus on returns, opportunities with a global thesis, reserving capital for those getting traction, up to $1.5m for top performers (vs $500k under SCIF1.0).
• Since 1 July 2017, SCIF2.0 has approved 59% of deals presented, with a higher approval rate for follow on deals and declines being notified within 2 weeks.

Sam Stubbs – more capital is coming
• Kiwisaver is a $42bn saving pool which will grow to $200bn by 2030.
• Kiwisaver providers want to invest in early stage but are not currently being provided with the right products and mechanisms to be able to do so.
• Bigger follow-on cheques are coming.

Arama Kukutai – corporate venture capital
• Agtech activity has more than doubled by value and volume since 2014.
• US venture capital accounts for 47% of world-wide capital invested in agtech startups.
• In the agtech sector, corporate venturing and collaboration with VCs is becoming increasingly common and more sophisticated to generate win/win outcomes.

Randy Komisar – why do this? investment motivations and M.O
• Is this the deal, are these founders and is this cause… worth failing for?
• Investing in startups is about people and value creation, not about buying low and selling high.
• Don’t emulate any other place on the planet, do your thing. Protect and promote what you have as New Zealanders.
• If you can plot success for a company, it’s probably wrong or not worth doing.
• Fighting for crumbs on the table is no way to get cake – a reference to niggling over terms.

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Lead Partners

NZTE NZVIF PWC

Expert Partner

NZX AVID AJ Park “FNZC.jpg”

AANZ Summit Sponsors

Callaghan Innovation “UniServices” Kiwinet “Spark”