KiwiNet News 16 May 2016

KiwiNet welcomes Government's increased support for PreSeed Accelerator Fund

Hamilton, NZ, 16 May 2016

The Kiwi Innovation Network (KiwiNet) enthusiastically welcomes the announcement by Hon Steven Joyce, Minister of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to boost funding into the commercialisation of publicly funded research by $12 million over the next 4 years. KiwiNet is a consortium of 15 universities, Crown Research Institutes and a Crown Entity established to boost commercial outcomes from publicly funded research.

KiwiNet Investment Committee Meeting, May, Chch
KiwiNet Investment Committee Meeting, May, Christchurch

MBIE's PreSeed Accelerator Fund provides universities and Crown Research Institutes with funding they can allocate on MBIE's behalf for early-stage commercialisation of new ideas to maximise the commercial benefits of science to New Zealand.

Dr Bram Smith, General Manager of KiwiNet says, "PreSeed plays an essential role in turning research discoveries into new products, services and start-up businesses - it's science powering business innovation to grow exports and create jobs. Over the last decade every $1 of PreSeed invested has resulted in $5 of business investment in the resulting high-tech opportunities."

An independent review on the impact of the first ten years of PreSeed Accelerator funding released in October last year confirmed that more publicly funded science discoveries are getting to market after a decade of investment. The 573 projects reviewed resulted in more than 386 licenses, numerous start-ups, and other commercial deals that have the estimated potential to generate at least 460 jobs and up to $3.0 billion in export revenues for New Zealand. Actual returns to the research organisations alone have already reached $188.2 million, with many more projects still in development.

As a national network of New Zealand's publicly funded research organisations, the Kiwi Innovation Network is one of several organisations that administers PreSeed. KiwiNet's 15 partners are represented on its Investment Committee, which meets every six weeks to review projects and allocate PreSeed investment. Research organisations must match PreSeed 50/50 with business co-investment or their own investment.

Andrew Turnbull, Chair of the KiwiNet Investment Committee comments, "The KiwiNet partners are passionate about working together to lift commercial capability across the science system to drive economic impact. There are many exciting hi-tech commercial opportunities in universities and Crown research entities. PreSeed investment is invaluable to powering up these opportunities on a path to business success."

Recent successes include 11Ants Analytics Ltd, a cloud based retail and airline data analytics platform, which was conceived at the University of Waikato, nurtured by PreSeed and purchased last year by a joint venture between Air New Zealand and Aimia Inc, a Canadian based data-driven marketing and loyalty analytics company. "It's tremendous to see Government recognition of the importance of both early stage IP and small business growth with this significant increase in investment. We have in New Zealand a proven ability to commercialise research, build sustainable new businesses and, in so doing, create new job opportunities," comments Tenby Powell, Chairman of WaikatoLink, the commercialisation company of University of Waikato.

Another PreSeed success is STRmix™ from New Zealand Crown Research Institute, ESR and developed with Forensic Science South Australia (FSSA). STRmix™ is a breakthrough for forensic analysts as it can assist investigations using DNA evidence previously considered too complex to interpret. PreSeed investment has helped successfully accelerate the project to global markets and is resulting in significant export returns to New Zealand.

Hamish Findlay, General Manager Commercial and Business Development, ESR says, "Taking a lab model and turning it into a commercial product is a big step, made up of a series of smaller steps. PreSeed funding from KiwiNet was a crucial support in that journey to commercialisation. It helped establish market demand, sort out the best business model, and define a clear market entry strategy."

Hon Pete Hodgson, CEO of Otago Innovation says, "PreSeed is one of the most effective taxpayer investments in the innovation system, and an increase therefore makes sound sense."

Hon Ruth Richardson, Chairman of KiwiNet, sees MBIE's announcement of additional investment as a show of confidence in the fund's solid track record of performance and a desire to realise significant untapped potential.

Richardson comments, "After five years of activism to lift the commercialisation of research, KiwiNet is pleased that the Government has the confidence to back more substantially the proven track record of the PreSeed Accelerator Fund. Extending the funding will lift the pace of the commercialisation of innovative research and make a tangible difference to improving New Zealand's economic performance."

For further information please contact:

Sandra Lukey
Shine Group (PR for KiwiNet)
Phone: +64 21 2262 858