CPN Funding for KiwNet and ReturnOnScience Increased

The big news in our neck of the woods this week has been the formal announcement of the Commercialisation Partner Network (CPN) getting increased operational funding, alongside a boost to the Pre-Seed Accelerator Fund (PSAF). Together, these two publicly funded programs help take great ideas out of research institutions and pair it with both expert advice and pre-seed funding to get these projects investment-ready.

We are proud to work with both KiwiNet and ReturnOnScience, both by giving our expertise back to the community (our team members sit on several ReturnOnScience Investment Committees), as well as providing forward pathways for high-performing projects to get seed capital and support.

The timing of the announcement was relatively fortuitous, as the Momentum program has spread to Dunedin with the first meeting of the Otago Momentum Investment Committee yesterday on the 9th of July. This makes three student-led Momentum committees: Auckland, Wellington, and Otago. This is a great initiative for professional development for the next generation of commercialisation and investment professionals, as well as a great opportunity for fast-moving projects (particularly those led by student teams) to get some advice and suggestions from a diverse range of perspectives.

Read more here:
Ministerial Press Release: https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/backing-bright-ideas-early-boosts-innovation-economy
KiwiNet Press Release: https://www.kiwinet.org.nz/News/KiwiNet_secures_significant_funding_boost

Series A Fundraising Checklist

Pete Flint from US seed-stage venture firm NfX has published a 13-point checklist of key proof points that firms should have when pitching for a Series A. Many of these items are arguably needed for any business pitching for funding at any time, but are must-haves for Series A. We see a lot of project ideas that are missing several of these items, and it makes it very easy for someone to criticise the project when something just isn’t there. Crossing off everything on the list means that the investors can properly engage with the team and actually understand the strength of the idea/company.

Read more here: https://www.nfx.com/post/fundraising-checklist-13-proof-points-series-a

Technology Incubators

Callaghan Innovation has released a call for new Technology Incubators – it’s an exciting opportunity for firms, funds, and people working in the early-stage investment space to get some additional support, primarily in the form of Repayable Grants and OPEX funding. Read more about the new TIs and the bidding process here: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/BU1907/S00097/search-underway-for-deep-tech-commercialisation.htm

Slack’s Path to IPO

The VC community has been watching Slack’s listing on the NYSE intently, as Slack has used the unconventional direct listing approach which carries a lot of risk but also potential reward for the existing shareholders. Thus far it has looked to be successful, with a whopping 22-27x implied multiple on annual revenue, even though Slack is not profitable yet.

Here are two interesting datagraphics that have been prepared by analysts in the US about Slack’s pathway to the IPO exit:

https://equityzen.com/path-to-ipo/slack/

https://pitchbook.com/news/articles/tracing-slacks-tracks-from-founding-to-direct-listing-datagraphic

NZ’s first FDA-granted Breakthrough Device

Congratulations to the team at Surgical Design Studio (SDS) and the University of Auckland for achieving a Breakthrough Device designation from the FDA – the first medical device in New Zealand to do so. SDS have a novel device to help those suffering from gastrointestinal diseases, transforming their recoveries from surgery by reducing complications and improving quality of life.

Read more here: https://www.uniservices.co.nz/node/786

Rocket Lab not afraid of competition

Stuff has some excellent reporting today on an interview with Peter Beck, founder and CEO of Rocket Lab, discussing the huge amount of activity in the space start-up ecosystem and the challenges that brings. Of particular interest is the comment that most of the start-ups will fail, and with that a lot of investors will lose money and may become disillusioned and lose interested in space, which harms the industry as a whole. But to some extent, Rocket Lab has to just do the best job it can – it only has limited control over the competitors, and the focus has to be on beating the extremely high difficulty threshold of succeeding in space.

Read more here: https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/113066131/rocket-lab-is-keeping-tabs-on-117-rivals-but-thats-not-what-is-keeping-founder-peter-beck-busy

$300mil Govt Fund for Venture Capital

The NZ Superannuation Fund has put out a press release that provides a lot more detail about the much anticipated $300mil “Series A” venture capital intervention fund, designed to help companies in the $2mil-$15mil valuation range. Commonly known as the “valley of death” in NZ investment circles, many companies at this stage end up having to go overseas to find capital. Using a small portion of the government’s superannuation contributions is a positive signal that there is strong belief that this asset class can produce good returns over a long time-frame. However, it may take awhile before request for proposals and managers are appointed – we expect it to take at least a year to get to the point where this funding actually becomes available.

Read more here: https://investmentnews.co.nz/investment-news/nz-super-primed-for-new-300m-venture/

Zenno Astronautics on the first part of their journey

University of Auckland student start-up Zenno Astronautics hopes to use electromagnetic propulsion to help keep satellites in space, rather than having them fall back down to Earth too quickly. An interesting and wide-reaching interview, Managing Director Max Arshavsky tells the story of their early plans, how they manage their company and seek investment, and why they’re trying to do it from New Zealand.

Read more here:
https://m2magazine.co.nz/m2-success-summit-local-vs-space/

Invert Robotics closes NZD$13mil round

Christchurch-based Invert Robotics has closed a USD$8.8mil (NZD$13mil) funding round, with the support of Finistere Ventures (from Silicon Valley) and Yamaha Motor Ventures. This is particularly interesting as it is showing the interest from these two sources in New Zealand, and they are looking around for other early-stage investment opportunities. The company builds robots that can climb vertically up walls, using vacuum technology to ensure that they adhere to non-magnetic surfaces.

Read more here:
https://venturebeat.com/2019/05/02/invert-robotics-raises-8-8-million-for-inspection-robots-that-cling-to-non-metallic-surfaces/

Biomatters Acquired!

A leading provider of DNA data analysis solutions, Auckland-based Biomatters has been acquired by GraphPad, a US publisher of scientific software (particularly around biostatistics). With significant numbers of customers overseas (particularly in the US), the acquisition will help Biomatters take their software to the rest of the world, with a connection through to Insight Partners as well, a leading VC/PE firm investing in high-growth technology and software companies. The sale is great news for Ice Angels and NZVIF, who both held significant stakes in the company.

Read more here: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=12225362