Media Release :: Increasing growth and maturity in NZ startup investment, despite COVID-19 disruptions

Startup investment in New Zealand has grown and matured despite the challenges of COVID-19, according to the latest Startup Investment report from PwC and the Angel Association (AANZ). In 2020, investors provided more follow-on capital than ever before, with 69% ($109m) of all investment being follow-on capital, indicating a commitment to support startups through to exit.

At the same time, 2020 saw a broadening of the startup investor base, with more venture capital funds choosing to invest in startups now amounting to 45% of total startup investment. The broadening investment base has offered more opportunities for investors to syndicate with 85% choosing to invest with others in 2020, the highest it has ever been, according to Young Company Finance deal data supplied by NZ Growth Capital Partners . This is on top of the long term growth in startup investment over the last 15 years, from a total investment value of $20m in 2006 to $157m in 2020.

PwC Partner Anand Reddy says the result is heartening.

“This time last year, we were considering what impact COVID 19 might have on the world of startup investment and the importance of backing startups through periods of uncertainty. A year later, and the startup ecosystem has demonstrated not only its resilience but an increase in maturity” says Reddy.

“In March 2021 alone we saw two substantial Kiwi grown technology businesses, Vend and Seequent, sold to offshore buyers. The realisation of value at this scale creates not only an opportunity for founders and investors to reinvest funds and expertise in new startups, it also attracts a wider pool of investors to New Zealand to help get future startups off the ground. We now have an ecosystem that is more self-sufficient and sustainable.”

Suse Reynolds, Chair of the Angel Association, says that early stage investment as an asset class is maturing in New Zealand.

“A noticeable trend is that deal sizes are getting larger as early stage ventures and angel backed ventures scale and require larger quantums of growth capital. This is a trend we expected and we are pleased to see.

“Another positive trend is the increasing number of deals being led and supported by funds drawing on capital from offshore investors which speaks to the quality of deal flow and increasing profile of New Zealand as a source of appealing opportunities. Seven deals were led by offshore venture capital firms and 11 deals received investment from offshore venture capital firms in 2020.

“In all these instances New Zealand angels and venture investors also provided capital. This bodes well for the ecosystem as these early investors continue to be part of the increasing value and growth of these ventures and deepen their expertise as venture investors.”

Reddy cautions however that Government support for early stage startups remains crucial.

“When the Government’s new Research and Development Tax Incentive was first launched in 2019/20, there were concerns that it was too narrow in scope to have any real impact for startups – with many Callaghan Innovation Growth Grant recipients unable to benefit. I’m pleased that policy makers have taken on board this feedback, confirming that existing Growth Grant recipients should qualify for the new incentive and could potentially receive support at similar investment levels. This is great news for those startups who require funding to attract and support highly skilled individuals to carry out R&D.”

The latest Startup Investment report profiles the investment journeys of three Kiwi startups – academic review website Publons, flight crew management software Merlot.aero and digital classroom tool Kami. Each is at different stages of the investment journey, from completing the full cycle of realising value and reinvestment, to continuing aggressive international growth.

Investors and founders of Publons, Merlot.aero and Kami also comment on how the startup investment ecosystem in New Zealand is maturing with an increasing cadence of founders and investors realising value, and then reinvesting into the next great Kiwi startup. The report looks at the long term journey towards the investment ecosystem in New Zealand becoming self sustainable, and the growing focus on ‘global first’ when startups think about their markets and their investors, rather than New Zealand first then global later.

“This maturing investment market will create exponential value and impact for Kiwis, the economy and communities around New Zealand,” says Reddy.

“Change is coming and the future looks bright.”

-ends-

For media queries please contact:
Arwen Vant
Communications Manager
PwC New Zealand
Mobile: +64 (0)21 859 946 or email: [email protected]
Suse Reynolds, AANZ Chair
Mobile: +64 (0)21 490 974 or email: [email protected]

About PwC
PwC is dedicated to helping startups with great ideas make their way in the world. We provide support through tailored financial reporting, tax advisory and compliance, structuring, strategic advisory services as well as networking opportunities. We collaborate with others in the local ecosystem including Callaghan Innovation, NZTE, the Angel Association of NZ, KiwiNet, and other New Zealand VC funds. Alongside publishing StartUp Investment NZ, we are sponsors of Southern SaaS, KiwiNet Awards and the NZ Hi Tech Awards.
PwC New Zealand employs over 1,600 people and has offices in the Auckland, Waikato, Hawkes Bay, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago regions. Our people are dedicated to solving the complex problems businesses are facing in today’s changing market place.

PwC firms help organisations and individuals create the value they’re looking for. We’re a network of firms in 155 countries with more than 284,000 people who are committed to delivering quality in assurance, tax and advisory services. Find out more at www.pwc.co.nz

PwC refers to the New Zealand member firm, and may sometimes refer to the PwC network. Each member firm is a separate legal entity. Please see www.pwc.com/structure for further details.

© 2021 PricewaterhouseCoopers. All rights reserved.

The Angel Association of New Zealand (AANZ)
The Angel Association is an organisation that aims to increase the quantity, quality and success of angel investments in New Zealand and in doing so create a greater pool of capital for innovative start-up companies. It was established in 2008 to bring together New Zealand angels and early-stage funds. AANZ currently has 40 members representing over 800 individual angels associated with New Zealand’s key angel networks and funds. Recent NZ Growth Capital Partners data revealed angels have invested more than $NZ681m in over 1200 deals and 414 companies in the last 12 years. AANZ works closely with NZTE, NZGCP, Callaghan Innovation and a number of private sector partners including Jardens, PwC, Avid Legal, KiwiNet, Uniservices, AWS, BNZ, Momentum and BECA. For more, please visit: www.angelassociation.co.nz

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Lead Partners

NZTE NZGCP PWC ATEED “NZX”

Expert Partner

AVID “Jarden”

AANZ Summit Sponsors

“UniServices” Kiwinet “AWS” “BNZ” “Momentum” “Hillfarrance” “Punakaiki” “MBIE” “GD1” “TompkinsWake” Callaghan Innovation