General Partners and Staff

The GP team runs the fund, managing the investment pipeline, conducting due diligence on opportunities, engaging in capital raising, supporting our portfolio companies, and keeping Limited Partners (fund investors) informed.

Greg Sitters

Greg Sitters

Managing Partner

E-mail: [email protected]

Greg is an experienced executive professional with over 25 years’ experience in the IT sector throughout Australasia, Asia and the USA.

Over the past 15 years, Greg has been involved in an executive capacity with Sparkbox Venture Group, a leading early-stage private investment fund. Their investments traversed a wide range of industry sectors and technologies and originated from all sectors and stages of the economy. Leveraging many of the learnings from his earlier investment experiences, Greg has introduced many key attributes into the Matū investment framework such as mandatory syndication, the importance of and availability for follow-on funding, the need for a strong and capable Advisory Group, and the value of market and sector partnerships especially on a global basis.

He sits on the Investment Committees of the Physical Sciences, Agri-tech, Auckland Momentum, and Otago Momentum for Return on Science as an independent specialist. In addition, he also holds a number of Director or Chairman positions with science-based companies.

Ken Erskine

Ken Erskine

Principal General Partner

E-mail: [email protected]

Ken Erskine is a mentor, investor and entrepreneur with extensive experience across New Zealand and multiple international startup ecosystems. As an active Angel Ken has personal investments and interests in over 80 high tech ventures. He is an active member of the NZ startup Ecosystem and helped with the setup of the Technology Investment Network and the formation of The Icehouse. He was instrumental in the creation of the Global from Day One (GD1) seed fund and played an active role in the development of the Commercialisation Partner Network (CPN) and what has today become Return on Science (RoS) national research commercialisation programme.

In 2009 Ken was appointed Director of Startups at the Icehouse with responsibility for both the startup incubator and ICE Angels. During his tenure, The Icehouse was acknowledged by Forbes Magazine as one of the world’s top ten technology Incubators and Ice Angels invested over $50m into early stage NZ ventures. He also led the establishment of the Lighting Lab accelerator in Auckland, later to become the Flux Accelerator and creation of GridAKL co-working space. In 2017 he setup and ran Venture Lab a new incubator for the University of Auckland which has recently graduated its second cohort of student led startups.

Prior to his involvement with startups and early stage investment, Ken worked with local high tech, high growth software companies responsible for worldwide marketing, sales channels and vendor partnerships. He has also held senior sales and marketing roles at Hewlett Packard and Compaq NZ. Born in Scotland and educated in Europe, he holds an Executive MBA from ESCP business school in Paris.

Dr Andy West

Dr Andy West

General Partner

E-mail: [email protected]

Andy is an entrepreneur who specialises in co-founding and investing in, and governing or managing, high technology start-ups, mainly with a green technology specialisation (clean technology). These include Bioceta (anaerobic digestion waste to energy), Ligar (high value or polluting molecules and heavy metals extraction), Aquafortus Technologies (unique extremely low energy water and alcohol extraction, and zero liquid discharge), Lanaco (unique wool-based air and liquid-filtration) and Synthase Biotech (unique life extension and preservation enzyme).

Over 17 years, Andy was the Vice-Chancellor of Lincoln University, Chief Executive of AgResearch, founding Executive Chairman of the Tertiary Education Commission, Chief Executive of the NZ Qualifications Authority, and Chief Executive of GNS Science. A number of years ago he also led the reform of New Zealand’s public science system and then tertiary education system. He was also Chairman of two separate Māori investment companies with balance sheets in combination of $190million.

Andy is a scientist and holds a PhD in Microbial Ecology from the University of Westminster with many international publications.

Jaco Pretorius

Jaco Pretorius

Venture Partner (USA)

Jaco has over 25 years of experience in product development and realization, specializing in bringing high-tech innovation to market. He is skilled in the entire process of technology-to-market: Conception, IP Protection, R&D, certification, sales, marketing, O&M and fund raising.

Jaco started his career as an aerospace engineer and has designed, built and space qualified equipment that is on-orbit in the Space Station today. Later in his career, Jaco focussed on high technology commercialization and counts US government institutions such as NASA, Department of Energy, Department of Defence, as well as Fortune 500 companies in the aerospace, chemical, energy and transportation sectors as his clients.

Jaco was born in South Africa, has technical degrees from the University of South Africa and the University of Stellenbosch, and received a master’s degree in Engineering and Management from MIT. He is currently based in Austin, Texas.

Dr Andrew Chen

Dr Andrew Chen

Venture Associate

E-mail: [email protected]

Andrew is part of the Matū team as a Venture Associate, responsible for running the due diligence processes of the fund, leading the project sourcing program and building relationships with technology transfer offices, managing the intern program, as well as providing technical and operational support across the fund.

Andrew has been part Return On Science and Momentum since 2017, and is now the Chair of the Digital Technologies Investment Committee as well as a member of the Auckland Momentum Investment Committee. These are set up to help identify and commercialise innovation, entrepreneurial ideas from our universities and research institutions, as well as to support student entrepreneurship.

Andrew is also a technical expert across the computing spectrum, from reconfigurable hardware to artificial intelligence and machine learning. He finished a PhD in Computer Systems Engineering at the University of Auckland in 2019, focusing on computer vision for person tracking applications, as well as using technology to help protect the privacy of people being observed by surveillance cameras. He is also a Research Fellow with the Center for Science in Policy, Diplomacy, and Society at the University of Auckland and provides media commentary on the social and ethical implications of new technologies. Born and educated in Auckland, Andrew moved to Wellington in 2019.

Odette Lees

Odette Lees

Research Intern

E-mail: [email protected]

Odette is a research intern for Matū, responsible for helping with research for Matū’s market intelligence activities and due diligence operations.

Odette is involved with Return on Science as an investment committee member, sitting on the Auckland Momentum and Digital Technologies committees. She is also involved with the university organisation Chiasma, which aims to up-skill and connect students in STEM with relevant industries.

Born in Auckland, she has an undergraduate degree in Biotechnology from the University of Auckland and is currently completing her Masters in Bioscience Enterprise at the University of Auckland. Throughout her undergraduate studies she had interests in microbiology and immunology. She is particularly interested in how we can harness microbes to solve a variety of problems.

Shannon Scown

Shannon Scown

Iramoe (Observer)

Shannon is an Observer as part of our Iramoe program at Matū. Shannon is involved with several organisations across the innovation ecosystem, including as business development manager for the Dodd-Walls Centre for Photonic and Quantum Technologies and running a small consultancy company.

Shannon has a BSc(Genetics) and a Post Graduate Diploma and Masters in Bioscience Enterprise from the University of Auckland and comes from a tech transfer background, in which she negotiated contracts between universities and industry, and then moved on to proposal and policy management to hone her skill in creating successful proposals.

Shannon has an interest in strategy and governance and is a happily vocal advocate for the value of diversity of thought and representation in leadership and strategy planning.

Outside of work and observing, Shannon is a board member of the Monte Cecilia Housing trust, which provides emergency supported housing to families who are homeless or with a serious housing need. She lives in Auckland with her husband and four tamariki aged 1-15.


Investment Committee

The IC decides if each investment into an opportunity should be made or not, as well as approving other significant fund events.

Greg Sitters

Greg Sitters

Managing Partner

E-mail: [email protected]

Greg is an experienced executive professional with over 25 years’ experience in the IT sector throughout Australasia, Asia and the USA.

Over the past 15 years, Greg has been involved in an executive capacity with Sparkbox Venture Group, a leading early-stage private investment fund. Their investments traversed a wide range of industry sectors and technologies and originated from all sectors and stages of the economy. Leveraging many of the learnings from his earlier investment experiences, Greg has introduced many key attributes into the Matū investment framework such as mandatory syndication, the importance of and availability for follow-on funding, the need for a strong and capable Advisory Group, and the value of market and sector partnerships especially on a global basis.

He sits on the Investment Committees of the Physical Sciences, Agri-tech, Auckland Momentum, and Otago Momentum for Return on Science as an independent specialist. In addition, he also holds a number of Director or Chairman positions with science-based companies.

Dana McKenzie

Dana McKenzie

Independent Member

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.

For the last 20 years, Dana’s corporate career has taken her from her native Romania, to the US, Switzerland, France and New Zealand. She was often at the intersection of technology/science and its commercialization, 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 Daniela have a pragmatic assessing and guiding approach to the startups that attempt the same with limited financial resources.

Dana was born in Romania and has lived in New Zealand since 2014. She has a Master’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Colorado Boulder and an MBA from the IMD Business School.

Ian Fletcher

Ian Fletcher

Independent Member

Ian is a highly experienced organisational leader and diplomat who is highly regarded for his organisational change management work. He has led organisations as diverse as the GCSB, the UK Patent Office (including establishing and operating an incubator), the Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (the equivalent to MBIE), the UN Customs Service in Kosovo, and chaired a G8 committee on innovation and intellectual property.

He was born in Pahiatua, and has a degree from the University of Canterbury. He now lives in the Wairarapa while running a cybersecurity consultancy, and also grows peonies commercially with the largest operation in the North Island.

Suse Reynolds

Suse Reynolds

Independent Member

Suse has been a foundational part of the New Zealand angel investment community for over a decade. She is currently the Executive Director of the Angel Association NZ. Suse has been on the AANZ Council since its inception in 2008 and took up the Executive Director role five years ago. Angel Association NZ is the industry representative body for early stage investment.

In 2005 Suse helped to found AngelHQ, the Wellington region’s angel network and remains on the Board. Today AngelHQ has over 80 members and has invested over $20m into 68 high-growth startup companies. Suse is an active angel investor with about 20 ventures in her portfolio. Suse is also on the board of CreativeHQ, a member of VicLink’s Momentum Investment Committee, a member of the Institute of International Affairs Standing Committee, and a committee member of the Wellington branch of the Institute of Directors.

Prior to her roles in angel investment, Suse was the Chief Operating Officer and General Manager Investment at Grow Wellington. Before taking up these positions, she was the Executive Director of the Trade Liberalisation Network. This followed a 10 year career with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade which included working for the Foreign Minister and a posting in London representing New Zealand’s trade and economic interests.

Suse has a Bachelor of Commerce and an Honours Law Degree, both completed at Victoria University. She has two gorgeous teenage children, an ancient Tonkinese cat, and an over exuberant golden lab and lives at the foot of Mt Kaukau in Wellington where she remains a staunch Crusaders rugby supporter.

Dr Sam Yu

Dr Sam Yu

Independent Member

Sam has over 15 years experience in commercializing technologies from New Zealand and exported products globally. He has worked in diverse segments, which include biotechnology, vaccine, drug delivery, medical diagnostics, agri-technologies, eco-tourism, and education.

He has a track-record in growing revenue through focused sales-conversion from zero, and had established offices and distributorships across USA and Asia, and managed the two continents from NZ base, and created critical mass and keynote clients, e.g. Amgen Life Sciences, USA Army, Mayo Clinic, AerasVaccines, Beckman Coulter, Harvard, MIT, etc.

He was involved in public-private-partnerships that created the ‘FoodSouth’ Factory, ANZCO innovation centre, and China Yili Dairy Group’s R&D centre with the business agreement signed witnessed by Chinese President Xi Jinping and PM John Key.

Sam has a PhD & BSc(Hons) from the University of Canterbury and has published 20 papers in US, UK, and Japanese journals. He was awarded The Fenwick Chemistry Prize, University professorships, was a TEC Top Achievers Doctoral Scholar, and a MacDiarmid Institute MBA Scholar.


Scientific Advisory Board

The SAB helps us get specific expertise across a wide range of scientific fields, alongside expertise in science and technology commercialisation.

Ellen Gorissen

Ellen Gorissen

Ellen is Investment Director, Physical Sciences at IP Group Australia. Ellen has more than 25 years’ experience in strategy, business development, and technology commercialisation. She started as a chemical engineer in the oil and gas industry before moving into investment banking, advising on mergers, acquisitions, and equity capital market transactions.

Most recently, Ellen led the Commercialisation Function at the CSIRO, a team responsible for complex licensing and spinouts across all technology areas from medical devices and biotech, to advanced materials and clean tech. During her time at CSIRO, Ellen also managed the organisation’s equity portfolio, conducting capital raisings, managing exits and acting as nominee director on multiple spinout boards. Prior to CSIRO, Ellen was COO of CeramiSphere, a spin out from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO).

Ellen holds an MBA (Distinction) from Melbourne Business School and a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering (Hons) from the University of Queensland. She is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD).

Dr Andy Shenk

Dr Andy Shenk

CEO, Auckland UniServices Limited.

Andy has extensive experience in Strategic Venture Investment and Partnership Development in the life sciences sector, and has done strategic development, research and technology directorship, business development and science leadership in a listed biotechnology company.

He served as Chief Science Officer for a global food ingredient and consumer products company involving general management of strategy and intellectual property, new product development, and partnership development. Andy also holds a PhD and Post-doctoral qualifications in Biology.

Dr Simon Lovatt

Dr Simon Lovatt

Waikato University, Director Research and Enterprise.

Simon has particular skills and experience in quantitative modelling, design, strategy development and managing expert teams and is especially interested in innovation strategy and implementation.

He is a professional engineer with a PhD in Biotechnology, and with a background in Food Engineering Research, Consultancy, Technology and Software Product Development.

Prof Richard Furneaux

Prof Richard Furneaux

Director, Ferrier Research Institute.

Richard founded and grew the Industrial Research (now Callaghan Innovation) Carbohydrate Chemistry research team for the last 20 years. He has been involved with (and for a year managed) the GlycoSyn business unit, which undertakes process development and cGMP manufacturing by organic chemical synthesis of small molecule drugs for use in proof-of-concept human clinical trials.

Together Richard manages a total of 55 technical and support staff. He has a PhD in Chemistry and had post-doctoral positions at the University of Montana (USA) and Victoria University, before joining DSIR Chemistry in 1980, and which became IRL in 1992.


Commercial Advisory Board

The CAB provides professional services in areas such as law, finance, public relations, intellectual property, and insurance, as well as connections to key markets.

Bridget Unsworth

Bridget Unsworth

Bridget was Investment Director at New Zealand Venture Investment Fund for nine years. As Investment Director for the Seed Co-Investment Fund (SCIF), a $50m early stage investment Fund, she was involved in implementing the full review of the investment programme and was responsible for overseeing the investment activity across the fund. She was a member of the investment committee for NZVIF, reviewing both early-stage and venture capital investment opportunities.
 
Since leaving NZVIF, she has taken up a number of contract roles, including for the Angel Association NZ, the industry representative body for early-stage investment, among other roles. Prior to her role at NZVIF, she was an investment analyst at MVision Private Equity Advisers in London, where she was responsible for deal co-ordination, logistics, and deal execution for GPs across the globe.
 
She has a Bachelor of Commerce from Victoria University and a Bachelor of Physical Education from the University of Otago. She has three children, one boy and two girls who keep her on her toes in Riverhead, Auckland, which still has the gorgeous rural feel to life!
Jeffrey Lai

Jeffrey Lai

Jeffrey is a corporate/commercial lawyer and advisor with 25 years of experience, especially in the private capital and technology sectors. He has advised and acted for investors and investment funds (angel, pre-seed, seed, VC and growth/midcap private equity) as well as investee companies in a diverse range of growth industries, including IT, SaaS, robotics, renewable energy, environmental technology, specialised engineering, materials, and the commercialisation and productisation of science and innovation generally.

He is known for his pragmatic, strategic advice and ability to provide creative, cut through thinking on complex issues and problems. He is particularly skilled in designing legal structures and commercial arrangements (e.g. joint ventures, licences and distributorships), and assisting companies with international business expansion. He is a founding partner and the managing director of Anderson Creagh Lai, a boutique law firm based in Auckland. New Zealand. He is also an investor in early stage high-tech companies and funds.

Ian Fletcher

Ian Fletcher

Ian is a highly experienced organisational leader and diplomat who is highly regarded for his organisational change management work. He has led organisations as diverse as the GCSB, the UK Patent Office (including establishing and operating an incubator), the Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (the equivalent to MBIE), the UN Customs Service in Kosovo, and chaired a G8 committee on innovation and intellectual property.

He was born in Pahiatua, and has a degree from the University of Canterbury. He now lives in the Wairarapa while running a cybersecurity consultancy, and also grows peonies commercially with the largest operation in the North Island.

Paul Brislen

Paul Brislen

Over the past 20 years Paul has built an unrivalled understanding of the New Zealand media landscape. In his time he has been an editor, columnist, commentator, external communications manager, lobbyist and consultant working with clients ranging from some of New Zealand’s leading ICT start-ups through to large corporate players. From guiding social media strategies to building crisis communications plans, Paul can help build the communications strategy needed to achieve cut-through in this crowded media market.

Paul is regularly called on to comment on issues affecting the technology sector for publications and agencies such as: Computerworld, CIO Magazine, New Zealand Herald, Idealog, Radio New Zealand, Newshub and TVNZ. In his day job, Paul advises clients both large and small on how to engage with journalists to achieve the best outcomes.


International Advisory Board

The IAB provides connections to key markets and customers overseas, as well as local expertise for regulatory pathways, legal structures, and commercial best practice.

Ellen Gorissen

Ellen Gorissen

Ellen is Investment Director, Physical Sciences at IP Group Australia. Ellen has more than 25 years’ experience in strategy, business development, and technology commercialisation. She started as a chemical engineer in the oil and gas industry before moving into investment banking, advising on mergers, acquisitions, and equity capital market transactions.

Most recently, Ellen led the Commercialisation Function at the CSIRO, a team responsible for complex licensing and spinouts across all technology areas from medical devices and biotech, to advanced materials and clean tech. During her time at CSIRO, Ellen also managed the organisation’s equity portfolio, conducting capital raisings, managing exits and acting as nominee director on multiple spinout boards. Prior to CSIRO, Ellen was COO of CeramiSphere, a spin out from the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO).

Ellen holds an MBA (Distinction) from Melbourne Business School and a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering (Hons) from the University of Queensland. She is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (GAICD).

Matt Kirmayer

Matt Kirmayer

Matt Kirmayer represents emerging technology companies and the investors who fund them across a range of industries, including software, educational technology, digital media, social media, artificial intelligence systems and life sciences. Active in the technology and investment communities in Silicon Valley and the East Coast, Matt often works with emerging companies as their outside general counsel, managing legal, financial and operational issues, from formation and angel and capital investment through to exit, that arise when entrepreneurs enter the marketplace.

Matt has more than 25 years of experience in the emerging company and venture capital ecosystem, including numerous seed and venture financings for technology and life science companies. Matt also has a background in guiding clients in securities offerings and mergers and acquisitions.

As part of his commitment to gender equality, Matt sits on the advisory board of Astia, which is a nonprofit organization that invests in companies with women in positions of equity and influence. Matt is a mentor at the Lester Center for Entrepreneurship at the Haas School of Business at the University of California Berkeley and a Sky Advisor to SkyDeck, the unique accelerator at UC Berkeley. Matt is also an adjunct professor at the Integrated Innovation Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.
Jason Novak

Jason Novak

Jason Novak is a Partner with McDermott Will & Emery, based in San Francisco. He focuses his practice on intellectual property transactions, diligence, procurement and portfolio management for clients in the personalized/precision medicine (e.g., genomic sequencing platforms, computational genomics/bioinformatics, molecular diagnostics, etc.), digital health, life sciences tooling (e.g., qPCR, dPCR, capillary electrophoresis, etc.), medical device and food industries. He has extensive experience in intellectual property strategy and patent portfolio management, preparation and prosecution, oppositions, counseling, licensing and technology transactions, in and out-licensing, freedom-to-operate, various types of due diligence, IP training, risk recognition and management, and dispute resolution.

Previously, Jason was a director IP counsel for a multinational, biotechnology company. He managed worldwide intellectual property needs in genetic sciences instrumentation and software. Jason managed, for example, large IP portfolios, a team of agents and attorneys, licensing programs, various diligence needs, various IP related contract needs, and foreign and domestics patent challenges. Before transitioning to the legal industry, Jason was a research engineer for a leading food product company, where he led numerous product and process redesigns, reformulations and launches. This cross-functional role required interaction and experience with operations, finance, marketing and regulatory areas. This previous experience has contributed to his knowledge in dealing with various corporate functions from both an R&D and legal perspective.

Peter Rachor

Peter Rachor

Peter Rachor is the Hynds Entrepreneurial Teaching Fellow at the University of Auckland. He has extensive international experience, having lived on four continents and travelled extensively as part of a long career in telecommunications and start-ups. Peter has built companies that were sold to Verizon and Nokia, worked for large organisations like British Telecom and Asian Infrastructure Fund Management, and supported commercialisation at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the University of New Mexico. Prior to coming to New Zealand, he was the Director for Entrepreneurship and Innovation / Assistant Professor of Practice at the University of Portland, helping grow innovation and commercialisation for undergraduate and graduate students.

Peter’s global experience in entrepreneurship and education alongside a proven track record in new ventures, technology assessment, and teaching offers us valuable insights into a variety of global markets and connections to top research institutions. Expertise with experiential entrepreneurial development methodologies including design thinking and lean innovation will help our portfolio companies gain access to high-quality support at the early stages when designing and planning the business strategy.