General Partners and Staff
The GP team runs the funds, 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 SittersManaging Partner
Ken ErskinePrincipal General Partner
Dr Andy WestGeneral Partner
Dr Andrew ChenVenture Partner
Dr Olivia OgilvieAnalyst
Dr Will McKayAnalyst
Haisley BellToi Kai Rawa Intern
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 Lightning 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.
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. He is based in Cambridge in the Waikato.
E-mail: [email protected]
Andrew is part of the Matū team as a Venture Partner, responsible for running the due diligence processes of the fund, leading the project sourcing program and building relationships with technology transfer offices, managing the whakatipu tāngata 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 Koi Tū – the Center for Informed Futures at the University of Auckland and provides media commentary on the social and ethical implications of new technologies. Born and educated in Auckland, Andrew is now based in Wellington.
Olivia is an Analyst with Matū, responsible for helping with research for Matū’s market intelligence activities and due diligence operations.
She has an Honours degree in Biochemistry from The University of Canterbury and has recently completed a PhD from The University of Auckland. Her thesis explored how food processing alters the structure and digestion of gluten, focussing on the peptides that are involved in celiac disease. This involved making bread using different food processing techniques then digesting it in the lab, where she tracked the release of allergenic celiac peptides using mass spec.
Outside of her thesis, she is interested in the future of food, cellular agriculture and harnessing the power of proteins. Recently, she managed and led a team of nine undergraduate students to compete in iGEM (a synthetic biology competition in Boston) where they completed a project on producing low-allergenicity milk protein using microbes. She is also currently a committee member with Canterbury Momentum. She was previously CEO of Chiasma Christchurch, an organisation that aims to help STEM students thrive outside of academia.
Kiri is an Analyst with Matū, responsible for helping with research for Matū’s market intelligence activities and due diligence operations.
She has a double degree in Computer Science and a First Class Honours in Classics from the University of Otago. Deeply passionate about addressing major inequalities throughout STEM, she has been involved with multiple organisations and projects aimed at addressing gender and socioeconomic disparities within Computer Science at Otago and beyond. She is also a large proponent of the value that the arts brings into STEM education and industry.
Outside of academics, Kiri has been involved with the wider investment and entrepreneur ecosystem in New Zealand and abroad, sitting on the Return on Science Digital Technologies Committee and a founding member of the Otago Momentum Investment Committee. She has also been a part of the Global Biotech Revolution GAPSummit 2020 and Infinite Possibilities: 100 Women in STEM.
Will is an analyst for Matū, responsible for helping with Matū’s business case development and due diligence operations.
He recently submitted his PhD with The University of Auckland, exploring the commercialisation of a novel aquaculture species – giant kokopu, better known as whitebait. The very commercial nature of the PhD work has led Will to also work on his own start-up growing greenshell mussel spat, as well as working as the Science and Innovation Manager for one of NZ’s largest oyster companies. He also attended the Stanford Ignite program in 2019, specialising in commercialisation and entrepreneurship.
He currently sits on the Auckland Momentum Investment Committee, as well as the Return on Science Food/Agritech Investment Committee. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees for Hillary Outdoors, formerly the Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre of New Zealand. He is also a keen waterman, and enjoys surfing, fishing, and diving with friends and family.
Hanie is the Executive-in-Residence as part of our Whakatipu Tāngata program at Matū. Hanie has 20 years international experience working in the biotech, pharmaceutical and medical device industries, including almost a decade at Fisher & Paykel Healthcare.
Hanie has a BSc in Molecular Biology, and MSc (Hons) in Medical Science from the University of Auckland. She recently completed her Post Graduate Diploma in Business Management and Leadership from Darden Business School, University of Virginia.
Hanie has a passion in helping to nurture and grow start-ups especially in healthcare. Hanie joined SheEO (as an Activator) and ArcAngels in 2017, and has been an independent member of the Return on Science Medtech and Surgical Investment Committee since 2019. Hanie is an associate member of Institute of Directors and currently an observer on the board of Sweet Louise, which provides support to patients with incurable breast cancer. Outside of work, Hanie is a mum of two toddlers and lives in Auckland with her husband, kids and dog.
Haisley is an Intern with Matū, supporting the research team’s work in due diligence and advisory work.
He has recently completed a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Auckland, majoring in Finance and Economics. His internship is supported by Toi Kai Rawa, and he has previous experience working at a large FMCG company and a big four consulting firm.
Scientific Advisory Board
The SAB helps us get specific expertise across a wide range of scientific fields, alongside expertise in science and technology commercialisation.
Jaco has over 25 years of experience in product development and realisation, specialising 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 commercialisation 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.
Geoff Todd was the Innovation Fund Manager at Booster, and before that was Managing Director at VicLink, the Technology Transfer Office of Victoria University of Wellington. He has had significant experience with the early-stage science and tech commercialisation space, including working in a number of start-up companies. He also has governance experience as Director or Chair of several start-ups and CreativeHQ.
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.
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.
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.
Ngati Kahungunu, Kurakura Kai Tahu, Kati Mamoe, Waitaha, Hawea
CEO at Te Awanui Huka Pak, a 100% Māori owned company representing a large portfolio of kiwifruit and avocado orchards. Te Horipo also leads the Federation of Māori Authorities (FOMA) Innovation theme, and is on the boards of several agricultural businesses. Te Horipo is based in the Bay of Plenty, and offers nation-wide connections to the Māori economy.
Dr Peter Lee is an Adjunct Professor at the Auckland University Business School. He also advises a number of high-growth companies in the US and NZ with regards to innovation, intellectual property, and business strategy. Peter was previously CEO of UniServices for eight years, and prior to that he spent 30 years of his career in the US, including 15 years as Vice President of Corporate R&D for International Paper Company with its global research centre in New York.
Peter has a combination of experience with innovation in both start-up companies and large multi-national companies. Peter also holds the position of New Zealand’s Chief Defence Technologist. He is a Registered Technology Transfer Professional, and reviewer for the magazine Research Technology Management. He was recently awarded the Thompson medal by the Royal Society for his contributions to the commercialisation of science in New Zealand.
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.
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.
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.
Mike Brown has spent his working career in the primary sector and is a specialist in the export of food and beverages. He began his career as a winemaker and worked in South America and Europe, before a decade spent as winemaker and GM at Waimea Estates in Nelson. He went on to work for Nelson’s Wakatū Incorporation, first as CEO of Tohu Wines, then as GM Sales & Marketing for KONO.
Mike broadened his sector and market knowledge during a stint at NZTE, before recycling out to the private sector as CEO of ice cream start-up Appleby Farms, also in Nelson. During this time Mike also developed a governance career, chairing the boards of dedicated craft cider producer Zeffer Cider and NZ’s largest volume water brand, Pure NZ (NZ Drinks).
Currently, Mike is CEO of Marlborough Grapegrowers Co-operative in Marlborough. Mike’s strengths are in grower/farmer understanding, food and beverage processing, the domestic FMCG environment, and global market strategy.
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 is a former Investment Director at IP Group Australia, and former Head of Commercialisation at CSIRO. She 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.
During her time at CSIRO, she managed a team responsible for complex licensing and spinouts across all technology areas from medical devices and biotech, to advanced materials and clean tech. 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).
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.
Jason Novak is an IP attorney and Partner with Haynes and Boone LLP, 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.
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.
We also keep our former staff in the loop as part of our broader whānau.
Odette worked with Matū from February 2019 through to the end of November 2019.
Odette was a research intern for Matū, responsible for helping with research for Matū’s market intelligence activities and due diligence operations.
Odette was involved with Return on Science as an investment committee member, sitting on the Auckland Momentum and Digital Technologies committees. She was 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 WAS 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 was an Observer with Matū from July 2019 through to September 2020. Shannon is involved with several organisations across the innovation ecosystem. She 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.
Dana worked with Matū from December 2019 through to the end of July 2020. Dana was an intern for Matū, responsible for helping with research for Matū’s market intelligence activities and due diligence operations.
Dana has an undergraduate degree in Chemistry and Biology from the University of Auckland and is currently completing her PhD in Chemistry at the University of Auckland. Her thesis explores the electronic and surface properties of vanadium oxide materials, which are widely applied in catalysis for chemical synthesis, and have many potential applications in electronic devices. Over the past two years she has been based in the San Francisco Bay Area as a Doctoral Fellow at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, using their unique X-ray facilities for the majority of her experiments.
While at Berkeley she was involved with the Berkeley Science Review – a graduate student-run magazine that aims to highlight the groundbreaking research occurring at UC Berkeley – contributing as a copy-editor, writer and a member of the design team. Dana also has experience as a science teaching assistant at the University of Auckland, and as a laboratory assistant at Methanex methanol factory in New Plymouth.
Rachel was an Analyst with Matū in 2021, responsible for helping with research for Matū’s market intelligence activities and due diligence operations.
She graduated from the University of Auckland with First Class Honours in Biotechnology. Drawing from her key interest in industrial microbiology, her dissertation explored the effects of sound in yeast fermentation to identify potential differentiators for New Zealand’s craft beer market. Rachel also helped lead iGEM TeamMOD in Auckland, which sought out to reduce the environmental impact of nitrate leaching in dairy effluent systems.
Rachel has an interest in impact investment and how impact models can be validated within the New Zealand ecosystem. She still maintains a keen eye for novel applications of microbial research, particularly with emerging trends in waste stream recycling and renewable energy.