NZ tech sector attracts record offshore investment

New Zealand’s technology sector saw record growth in funding, driven by overseas investors in the year to March, according to the second annual Investors’ Guide to the New Zealand Technology Sector.
“The tech sector is New Zealand’s third largest exporting sector, contributing $16 billion to GDP (gross domestic product) and it is growing fast,” Economic Development Minister Simon Bridges said in a statement. “It presents multiple opportunities for New Zealand and international investors.”

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Investor Activity in NZ Tech Sector Continues to Intensify

Auckland, May 9, 2017 – Investment in New Zealand’s technology companies continues to rise, with record amounts of funding coming from offshore investors, according to the second annual Investor’s Guide to the New Zealand Technology Sector published jointly by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and the Technology Investment Network (TIN).

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A leading VC partner explains what’s missing from Australia’s tech startup scene

It’s been just over 100 days since I relocated back to Australia to join the incredible gang at Airtree Ventures.

I had previously worked with the London-based Summly until our acquisition by Yahoo (California based), and then as a venture investor at White Star Capital (New York and London based). As a result of these experiences, I was privileged to have an insider view on the growth of the London and New York tech communities.

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Kiwi Landing Pad Spreads it’s Wings

New Zealand’s tech community – Kiwi Landing Pad – is on the move in San Francisco.

Set up in 2011 with funding from the New Zealand government and private investors, the Kiwi Landing Pad (KLP) has already helped hundreds of innovators keen to break into the highly competitive United States start-up scene.

The non-profit organisation caters for high growth technology companies. As well as reducing the risks and time involved in setting up an office, KLP also offers valuable access to necessary business information and networks.

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CropLogic latest Canterbury tech startup to seek ASX listing

Christchurch-based CropLogic​ aims to list on the Australian stock exchange early next year.

CropLogic​ is commercialising technology developed over decades by Crown research institute Plant & Food Research.

It provides farmers with a computer modelling system to determine best times to apply nutrients and water for maximum crop yield.

Initial trials in the United States, New Zealand, China, and Australia indicated crop yield improvements of more than 6 per cent, delivering higher profits.

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Boost for Christchurch as Microsoft returns to CBD office following 2011 earthquakes

Just days after the city of Christchurch marked the five-year anniversary of the 2011 earthquakes, Microsoft New Zealand has announced that its Christchurch based operations are returning to the CBD as part of the new GreenHouse innovation hub.

The tech giant – which employs around 220 staff in New Zealand – has had a presence in Christchurch for many years, with four employees serving the business community from their inner city office, with regular support from the company’s Auckland headquarters.

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New England Venture Summit calls for promising early-stage startups

youngStartup Venture are bringing together a large group of VCs, Corporate VCs, angel Investors, Investment Bankers and CEOs of early stage and emerging companies for the New England Venture Summit being held on December 9th, 2015 at the Hlton in Boston, Deham and wanted to see if any of our colleagues at Angel Association New Zealand or any of the startups in your portfolio would like to attend.

Nominations are now being accepted for promising early-stage startups from the Tech, Life Sciences/Healthcare, Ed-tech, and Clean-tech sectors.

To nominate a company click here.

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Creating our own Silicon Valley

There are so many components in successfully scaling great tech ventures. NZVIF’s Franceska Banga identifies a number of them in this article where she compares Silicon Valley with NZ. Essentially we all have a role to play!

Silicon Valley. Rightly or wrongly it’s the totem pole by which countries judge their transition to a more technology-based economy. But while many want to create the next Silicon Valley, replicating its confluence of factors is not easily done.

There are some features which helped create and continue to make Silicon Valley unique. It helps, for a start, having nearby two top universities – Stanford and Berkeley – with Stanford’s famed electrical engineering department especially important. So, too, does having huge pools of investment capital nearby.

But what might surprise many about this bastion of private enterprise is that it grew out of a long-term partnership with private enterprise supported by decades of US Government contracts and subsidies.

Its 60-plus years of growth has seen three technological waves.

Post World War II, federal Government money to develop new defence and aeronautical technology established the valley’s foundation and the first wave.

Darpa (Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency), created in 1958, is credited with playing a significant role in the development of the earliest version of the internet.

From that base came the second superconductor and PC wave of the 1970s and ’80s, followed by the internet, social and mobile media technological wave since the mid- 1990s.

The venture capital funds, which today underpin so much valley innovation, also enjoyed decades of Government support.

The Small Business Investment Act of 1958 established federal funding for US venture capital firms. In its first decade, the programme invested US$3 billion into young firms – over three times the amount invested by private venture capital funds.

The programme still exists and in 2013 it provided US$2.2 billion of funding investment. Many of the valley’s most dynamic tech companies – Apple, Compaq and Intel – have been backed by Government funds.

While our tech sector shouldn’t try to mimic Palo Alto – our market is very different – there are many reasons to believe we can build a credible and sustainable tech sector that is economically significant over the long-term. Over the past 15 years there has been significant progress in building New Zealand’s technology landscape.

The annual TIN100 survey shows that over the past eight years, revenues from New Zealand’s top 100 technology companies have jumped from $4.7 billion in 2006 to $7.6 billion in 2014.

While NZ has some catching up to do if we want to create a technology sector of significant economic scale, we are well on the way.

The TIN100 result backs up what we are seeing daily in the business news pages, with a stream of new technology companies becoming household names – alongside Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, Datacom and Trade Me are the likes of Xero, Orion Health, Wynyard Group, Rakon and Pacific Edge.

The innovation pipeline of the next generation of technology companies also looks very healthy.

New Zealand’s tech sector is being built through the application of innovation and technology across multiple sectors led by the software industry. There are many other sectors where unique technology solutions are being developed.

Healthcare integration, helicopters, paint, parking, apples, animal health, surgical dressings and cystic fibrosis are examples where local innovation is leading the world.

There is no single factor driving this innovation. The role of successful private sector leaders and entrepreneurs is crucial. But so, too, is the support from the Government, from establishing Callaghan Innovation, developing business incubators, encouraging more R&D, commercialising more university research and strengthening our capital markets.

We know it takes a long time to develop a sustainable venture capital sector – the Valley’s VC sector took 40 years to develop. And while our VC market is likely to remain boutique, servicing local start-ups as they grow, their role is critical in filling the $2 million-$10 million funding gap – beyond crowdfunding and angel investors, before traditional capital markets.

We may never rival the US but we need to ensure our VC sector reaches a critical mass to meet the needs of New Zealand’s growing tech sector.

Since its establishment as a Government-owned and funded company, NZVIF has partnered with 10 venture capital funds. Alongside its fund partners, NZVIF has invested into some of New Zealand’s most promising growth companies – including Orion Health, Xero and PowerbyProxi.

For every dollar invested by the Government through NZVIF, there must be at least 1:1 matching investment from private investors. The public/private sector investment leverage runs significantly above that. To date, a total of $1.1 billion has been raised for NZVIF VC-funded companies of which NZVIF’s contribution is $100 million.

Overall the VC fund has returned 5.6 per cent per annum. Post-GFC, VC fund investments are showing returns of 26 per cent per annum.

New Zealand has made significant progress over the past two decades and the results can be seen in the array of emerging technology companies with good growth prospects. If every year we have two to three VC funds investing across 10 companies in the $2 million-$10 million funding gap, the impact could be significant.

Building a vibrant early stage investment ecosystem is not an insignificant goal. Look at the countries which have succeeded – the US, Israel, Finland and Singapore. In all, government support behind private sector endeavour has been instrumental.

Franceska Banga is chief executive of the NZ Venture Investment Fund

First published NZHerald 26 March 2015

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