The KiwiNet Investment Committee (IC) oversees allocation of all PreSeed investment under KiwiNet’s management. The committee meets monthly to review commercial opportunities, provide feedback and allocate investment funds.
Investment Committee Chair
Debra draws on her experience as an engineer in the mining industry, a strategic marketing consultant, a business owner and exited entrepreneur to deliver clarity of thinking and strategic direction to the governance and advisory boards on which she sits. In addition to her board work, she mentors young entrepreneurs, trains aspiring directors of early stage companies, and invests in start-up businesses in the high growth / technology space supporting the growth of NZ Inc.
CEO AUT Enterprise / Director Commercialisation
Steve leads the university in developing and promoting innovation and commercialisation both nationally and internationally. He is also Director of Perceptive - a leading market research company in NZ. Steve’s previous roles include the CEO of ecentre, the Business Development Centre at Massey University Auckland, which specialises in helping people take their ideas from Garage to Global.
Chief Executive Officer of Wellington UniVentures
Prior to becoming CEO, Anne spent four years growing and developing the IP and Commercialisation team within Wellington UniVentures as General Manager of Commercialisation, taking it from a team of one to a team of many, driving process and a significant increase in the numbers of disclosures. A physical scientist by training, Anne is passionate about bringing science, technology and society together.
Anne's career has focused largely on business development and science commercialisation activities for organisations such as Creative HQ (Wellington’s business incubator), the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, and Izon Science Ltd, a nanotechnology start-up. She has also successfully run her own business providing marketing, business development and strategic consulting services for science and high-tech sectors.
Acting Commercial Director, University of Canterbury
Elizabeth leads and coordinates Research & Innovation functions that support the University’s IP commercialisation and business engagement activities related to research capability, including:
Elizabeth is a Member of Science Board at Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
Chair Board of Directors at Dexibit
Having transitioned from “Corporate Refugee” to “Angel Devotee” Dana’s corporate career has taken her from her native Romania, to the US, Switzerland, France and New Zealand. She is often at the intersection of technology/science and its commercialisation, in software, hardware, utilities, biotechnology, education and consumer goods corporates. Learning what it takes to successfully take innovation to the world, in different markets, helps Dana have a pragmatic assessing and guiding approach to the start-ups that attempt the same with limited financial resources. In New Zealand since 2014, Dana has made several investments via the Ice Angels, served on their Board as Vice Chairperson and is the Lead Investor and Chairwoman of Dexibit, a SaaS data analytics provider for the Cultural sector. Dana is also founder of Yolana Ltd, which makes natural fibre yoga mats from New Zealand wool.
Plant & Food Research
Dr Gavin Ross has a deep understanding of biotechnology R&D, particularly in the Crown Research environment. He began his career as a research scientist studying the molecular biology of fruit ripening. In 1988 he joined HortResearch (now Plant & Food Research) as a research scientist and in the late 1990s was central to the establishment of genomics research for major horticultural crops, now integral to the Institute’s scientific programmes. After several years with Genesis R&D Corporation, in 2005 Gavin was appointed as HortResearch’s first Vice President Business Development in the USA. Here he was responsible for building the Institute’s US business and liaising with US-based clients and collaborators. In 2010, Gavin returned to New Zealand and is now the Group General Manager Marketing & Innovation. He is also the Chair of Plant & Food Research’s internal Investment Committee, which is responsible for investing the Institute’s Core Purpose funding from Government. During his career, Gavin has established an international reputation in plant molecular biology and fruit science, and has a strong network of science and industry contacts across New Zealand and the USA.
Dr Andrew Kelly is one of Australia-New Zealand’s most experienced life science investment managers. He is Managing Director and co-founder of BioPacificVentures, a specialist venture capital fund focused on food, health& agriculture. The fund had the New Zealand Government’s Venture Investment Fund as a cornerstone investor as well as the world’s largest food company, Nestlé, and New Zealand’s largest agribusiness, PGG Wrightson. It is a regular co-investor with Europe-based Inventages, the world’s largest investor in this space with over US$1.5 billion under management. Recently Andrew has co-founded BioPacific Partners, a new generation venture firm bringing global life science companies to engage with local innovation.
The first 20 years of Andrew’s career were in science and product development, including General Manager at AgResearch, New Zealand and Director of two research institutes in Australia. He has both Masters and PhD degrees in the life sciences.
Otago Innovation Ltd
David is an experienced commercialisation manager, having worked in the broad area of University technology commercialisation since 2004; much of his current commercialisation focus is around diagnostic biomarkers, physical medical devices and ICT opportunities. Prior to joining Otago Innovation in 2007, David spent a period of time as a Business Manager with FRST, and the University of Otago where he was the Acting Director Enterprise. During this latter period his focus was on the early identification of commercially valuable IP, as well as building the University’s applied research focus. David also has a background in banking and finance, having spent 13 years with the BNZ in the personal and commercial banking environments. David is the Otago Innovation shareholder representative for KiwiNet as well as being a member of the KiwiNet Investment Committee. He also serves on the board of two Otago Innovation spinout companies.
General Manager Marketing & Partnerships - Scion
Arron Judson is General Manager of Marketing and Partnerships at Scion. He has 25 years’ experience in industry with senior management roles at Toshiba and Ericsson. From 2001 he worked with start-ups in NZ, US and Asia, including GeoVector Corporation. Arron is co-owner of Astrolab a tech focused incubator in Auckland. He’s also been involved with public research working for 5 years as the Innovation Manager at the University of Auckland. He sat on the Return on Science ICT Investment Committee for five years and currently Chair Scion’s Commercialisation Committee, sit on Scion’s PreSeed Investment Committee. Arron also works actively within the start-up community as a Director, advisor and mentor.
Forensic Research & Development Programme Manager at ESR
ESR’s forensic R&D projects combine casework expertise with research excellence to deliver scientific advancements that improve justice outcomes. Dion’s previous roles include Senior Forensic Scientist, Science Leader and Team Leader of the Auckland Forensic Service Centre. He has a Masters of Science in Forensic Science and a Masters of Commercialisation and Entrepreneurship.
Research & Business Partnerships Manager, GNS Science
Alan Coulson specialises in R&D business services at GNS Science. He has twenty years research expertise in statistical signal processing, detection and estimation algorithms and sampling theory; all directed towards application in communication systems. His capabilities include systems design, embedded software implementation in microprocessors, DSPs and FPGAs, and electronics development. He leads research projects focussing on the development of future broadband wireless systems, for multimedia applications, operating in shared spectrum based on cognitive radio principles. He holds five patent sets on aspects of wireless communications. Alan previously held roles at Callaghan Innovation, including Technology Group Manager.
Brigitte is Founder and Managing Director at GBS Venture Partners. She has twenty years’ experience in venture capital, business strategy and start-up company operations. She has been investing and managing investments for GBS’s $450m of life science specialised venture capital funds since 1998. Brigitte is on the board of GBS portfolio companies AirXpanders Inc, Endoluminal Sciences Pty Ltd, Neuromonics Pty Ltd, Proacta Inc, and Vivive Inc. Brigitte was the founding investor and chair of Pharmaxis Pty Ltd. Prior to founding GBS she worked in the US and Australia in operating roles with early stage technology based companies, and at Bain & Company as a strategic management consultant. Brigette has a B. Chem Eng (Honours) from the University of Melbourne, and as a Fulbright Scholar completed a MBA (Honours) from the Harvard Business School and a MALD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, both in Boston, USA.
Director of the Research and Enterprise, University of Waikato
Simon is the Director of the Research and Enterprise Office at the University of Waikato, leading and managing the operation and functioning of the combined research and enterprise office. The combined office spans the full range of research and enterprise activity from investigator-led and mission led external research contracting and consultancy to industry-led external research contracting, and protecting and commercialising intellectual property generated by staff and students of the University. Simon is responsible for integrating these activities to maximise research and enterprise opportunities and performance for the University. He also provides operational support to the DVC Research and leadership in implementing the University’s research strategy, and leadership of the University’s central research, innovation and commercialisation support infrastructure.
Commercialisation Manager, AgResearch
Brooke has over a decade of experience in intellectual property law and venture capital investment and brings a strongly commercial perspective to her role as Commercialisation Manager.
After completing her LL.B at Otago University she started her career in the Government sector as an intellectual property policy advisor before moving into the private sector as a commercial lawyer for a top-tier law firm, specialising in intellectual property. This led Brooke into a role as Operations Partner at a public/private partnership specialising in seed stage venture capital investment and business incubation.
She has experience in the entire investment life cycle, from the screening and shaping of novel research outcomes to IP valuation, business planning, capital raising and commercialisation.
Biotechnology R&D Leader, Callaghan Innovation
Andrew leads biotechnology R&D at Callaghan Innovation, including natural product, food and beverage and agriculture. He has a background in materials science, microfabrication and optics.
Investment and Contract Manager Cawthron Institute
Robert heads Cawthron's research investment activities. His role involves matching research with end-users, identifying new business opportunities and working with scientists and investors to realise those opportunities. Robert also leads Cawthron's responses to major Government investment rounds and keeps stakeholders informed of research progress and outcomes. He strongly believes that an open, collaborative approach is key to achieving the best outcomes for New Zealand.
Nick is an experienced chief executive and board member of high growth companies and is currently Chief Technology Officer for fintech company Adminis Limited.
After a Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics from Cambridge UK, Nick has been working in Information Technology, initially as a management consultant for Deloitte Consulting, and following that starting his own wireless security company VizPIN which is now based in the US. Nick has been CEO of online gaming company OutSmart and fibre infrastructure company Vital. He is also an active advisor and a mentor for various incubator programs and entrepreneurs.
CEO Massey Ventures Ltd
Mark has lead commercialisation team at Massey University since 2007. His passion and expertise has helped his team to build a strong pipeline of opportunities and deals that have produced a consistent track record of deal-making and outstanding examples of commercialisation impact. In doing so Massey Ventures has generated a strong portfolio of commercialisation success in the food, agritech and animal health areas, reflecting the historical strengths of Massey University. Mark’s achievements include the trade sale of NZ Veterinary Pathology Ltd in 2015 and the acquisition by Nestle in 2019 of a formulation to address iron deficiency.
Nathan combines his love of people and passion for technology across a range of roles which include Managing Director of Potentia - a recruitment business focused on supporting the people and organisations that enable technology progression, and Co-CEO of Rea – a social enterprise whose purpose is to enable anyone to realise their potential by rapidly acquiring the right skills. Having founded a number of ventures, while being actively involved in the local startup scene, Nathan’s an entrepreneur at his core. As well as being an early stage business investor (through his investment company, Humi Group), he’s committed to supporting Kiwi businesses and entrepreneurs; whether that’s through coaching, strategy advice or governance via the various board assignments that he holds.