Idealog’s Guide to Tauranga: Follow the money

Businesses in Tauranga looking to scale up should count themselves lucky: the Bay of Plenty is one of the only regional centres in New Zealand with funding available for nearly every stage of business growth. There are three organisations on hand ready to help: early-stage investment provider Enterprise Angels, tech investor and incubator WNT Ventures and later-stage private equity provider Oriens Capital.

For companies in the early stages of investment, WNT Ventures is technology incubator that’s been put together to nurture innovative ideas nationwide. It’s currently on a five-year pilot trial receiving government support through Callaghan Innovation.

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Preparing the ground to grow strong companies

The confirmation that new Tauranga-based private equity fund Oriens Capital is on track for a $30million first close is great news for the region’s business sector.

Oriens Capital’s executive team have noted it will not focus exclusively on the Bay, with other regions also likely to be targeted.

But a key driver of setting up the new fund was to help close the gap in the Bay’s entrepreneurial and funding ecosystem.

The reality is that no other region outside the major metropolitan centres has the supportive infrastructure of experienced investors to pull together a $30 million-plus private equity fund.

The Bay has long been the home of the country’s largest angel investor group, Enterprise Angels, with 200-plus high-net-worth members from Tauranga, Rotorua, Taupo and the Waikato.

Tauranga is also the base for WNTVentures, the only regional entity to get the nod from Callaghan Innovation when it backed a series of new technology business incubators 18 months ago.

Oriens Capital will be focused on lower mid-market companies with enterprise values of $10 million to $50 million and potential investments ranging from $3 million to $10 million.

But Enterprise Angels executive director Bill Murphy says Oriens Capital could still potentially provide backing to some companies emerging from the angels funding system.

While Enterprise Angels’ investments typically top out at around $2 million, Mr Murphy notes electric offroad bike company Ubco is targeting $2.5million in its current round.

Meanwhile, WNTVentures is focused on identifying innovative companies at the very early stage.

“We are about the development of intellectual property,” says chief executive Carl Jones.

WNTVentures has backed four companies with investments ranging up to $600,000, with two more currently going through due diligence.

First published on nzherald.co.nz 21 June 2016

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