Search Blogs


Blog Categories

Monthly archives: June 2017

Posted: 13 June 2017
The latest news from New Zealand's start-up sector

Over the last couple of months, we have seen some fantastic ideas validated, businesses built, capital raised, some fast fails, priceless learning, and good times all around – congratulations to all of you!

With a number of our accelerators beginning to wrap up, we would like to extend a huge thank you to our partner organisations who passionately deliver such amazing programmes to New Zealand start-ups.

And what’s next? As we approach the end of the first half of the year, we are excited about what is coming up for the second half. Keep your eyes peeled for some big announcements later in June.

First exit for Lightning Lab

Lots of buzz around the first successful exit from Lightning Lab 2013 programme in Wellington. Publons has been acquired by Clarivate Analytics - a strategic partner for the company. Publons provides a platform that gives academics credit for the peer review work they do, and whose mission is to "speed up science through the power of peer review". An awesome outcome for the founders, and for the angel investors to see a return in just 4 years time. A great example that shows the value that our accelerator programmes provide for passionate and driven kiwi entrepreneurs.  

Sprout agritech muster day

Sprout agtech muster day

Sprout Agritech Accelerator held its muster day on 21 April at Fonterra HQ in Auckland. Seven teams pitched at muster day: Ceratech, Ectosolutions, Elastic Green, FTek, Knowby, Pinpoint Diagnostics, and Tribal.  

Sprout fills a gap for entrepreneurs with great ideas to disrupt the agri sector. In its second year, it is continuing to gain recognition as an internationally recognised agritech accelerator program. We will be working alongside the Sprout team to ensure the start-ups have a transition plan for life after the accelerator. See the end of programme report for more info. Bring on year three of Sprout!

KFA wraps up

KFA wraps up

Demo Day for the Kiwibank Fintech Accelerator (KFA), co-funded by Callaghan Innovation and run by Creative HQ, was hosted on 19 May on Wellington’s waterfront. Seven teams completing the accelerator pitched to a full theatre of investors, advisors, and entrepreneurs: Wicket, Liberac, National Account Registry, Sharesies, Accounting Pod, Teddy, and Flatfish.

Representing Callaghan Innovation, Vic Crone was a guest speaker alongside Paul Brock (Kiwibank CEO), and Chris Teeling (Xero, Head of Group Strategic Initiatives and Ventures).

Some of the start-ups who presented at demo day are maintaining good press coverage (Sharesies), and will be working towards securing funding from investors.

This event marks the ending of the Kiwibank Fintech Accelerator, and the teams will be wrapping up and planning the next steps on their journey. Again, we will be working with Creative HQ to assist these startups. 

Lightning Lab Electric to kick off

Lightning Lab Electric has announced the four ventures that will be participating in its energy sector accelerator programme on 12 June, wrapping up with a Demo Day on September 7: Polyanio, emhTrade, Mitton Electric, and Ampli. These four ventures “represent the enormous scope of the energy industry” and will “assist in developing innovative solutions to meet the sector’s changes and bring disruptive concepts to market”, says Programme Director Brett Holland. Our Energy and Environment Sector Team was part of the selection committee and will be a specialist advisor available to the teams throughout the duration of the programme. Touch base with the team if you would like to know more or be involved. All the best to the startups.

Electric Innovation Challenge winner

A precursor to the accelerator, Lightning Lab Electric’s Innovation Challenge called for innovative ideas in electricity and sustainable energy, and resulted in emhLab winning the top prize of $20,000. The team is now one of the four participating ventures to build its electricity innovation solutions using market validation and product development approaches trialled by companies such as Google, IDEO, and Tesla.

FLUX hosts international trio

FLUX hosts international trio

The Flux companies were lucky enough to host special guests Dom Price, Edith Yeung, and Peter Dingle on their premises on 4 April. This was a great chance for the teams to hear from some serious international innovators. Meanwhile, the teams are cracking on at an incredible pace, hurtling toward demo day on June 29. We have also seen an amazing achievement with one FLUX company closing a massive capital raise while still in incubation! Congratulations Miriana Lowrie and 1-Centre.

Bill Reichert visits from the US

Bill Reichert visits from the US

Callaghan Innovation and AUT partnered to bring Bill Reichert, Managing Director at Garage Technology Ventures and AUT Entrepreneur in Residence, to New Zealand in May. Bill, who has more than 20 years of experience as an entrepreneur and operating executive, shared insights about the US venture capital landscape and met start-ups from the Kiwibank Fintech Accelerator, Flux, Creative HQ, Bizdojo, and Astrolab. 

Wintec INNES48 – A start-up competition 

From 28-30 April, teams with big ideas gathered together for a sleepless weekend ideating, validating, and working on their pitches. This was a fantastic event run at the amazing Wintec campus in Hamilton and co-hosted by our incubator partner SODA Inc. You can see a livestream of the pitches here

R9 Accelerator 3+ Demo Day

R9 accelearator 3+ demo day

On 8 June the R9 Accelerator 3+ programme culminated with a demo day where the teams pitched their solutions to a panel of experts – and an enthusiastic audience who got to vote for their favourite team. myTrove got the most votes, winning the People's Choice Award.

Procurement for June 2017 - June 2019

We are making fantastic progress with our procurement for Founder Incubators, General Accelerators, and Maori Accelerator with contract negotiations close to wrapping up. Announcement of successful providers will begin during June – we will also be launching a marketing campaign, so keep an eye out! We’ll have some FAQs for staff available around this time too.

Upcoming events

(Date TBC) FLUX Bus Tour
29 June 2017 FLUX/The Icehouse Demo Day
7 September 2017 Lightning Lab Electric Demo Day

Is your start-up related event missing from the list? Email Start-Up Team to get it added in the next issue

Posted: 09 June 2017
The final in a blog post series by Business Innovation Advisor Nicky Molloy, following her recent agritech adventures in San Francisco.

In April I was privileged to join a delegation of businesses from New Zealand and around the world to see first hand San Francisco’s agritech industry in action. Special thanks to the Silicon Valley Forum for hosting the Seeds of Our Future AgTech Immersion Program 2017. Thanks also to NZTE, which funded the Kiwi contingent that was ably led James Wilde from NZTE, Peter Wren-Hilton from Wharf 42, and joined by Bridget Unsworth from NZVIF.

So how does NZ rate as a leader of innovation in agribusiness? In this blog series, I’ve shared some of the learnings from this trip and where NZ sits on the innovation spectrum.

Part 4 (final): Developing an innovation ecosystem around agritech in Salinas, California

Salinas is a strongly focused agriculture centre in California and with an 80-year history of growing iceburg lettuce. With large key industries moving out a number of years ago, it needed to reconsider its regional strategy to look at how it could develop an ecosystem that supports agriculture. A  collaborative effort between local government, education providers, businesses and community support agencies, this public private partnership is bringing agricultural and technology together, leveraging the region’s strengths with the aim of providing growth, developing well paid jobs, and producing a healthier environment as a result.

Key points are:

  • The local government doesn’t provide funding but acts as a convenor to clear the way for other support networks to do what they do best 
  • Education hubs such as Hartnell College work closely with businesses to understand the skill levels needed and how to support these with training modules. The College developed a computer science degree that could be completed in 3 years with businesses providing funding and internships. Examples of courses include basic applied technology degrees that cover business, computing and agricultural science through to mechanics, welding and soft skill development
  • Community projects where children as young as 4 are taught to code. About 600 students between the ages of 8 and 17 will be taken through the coding programme in the first year. This programme is free
  • The Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology, launched in December 2015, houses start-ups including two NZ companies
  • Salinas will host, for the third year, the Forbes AgTech Summit 
  • The THRIVE Accelerator program connects the expertise of tech companies to knowledge of agricultural companies, investors, and entrepreneurs

New Zealand Home of Innovation in Agribusiness

There are fantastic initiatives happening in this city that are benefiting the whole community. What a great showcase.

Our final day included a day at Plug and Play in Silicon Valley with presentations by agritech leaders from Brazil, Israel, France, Chile, Denmark, Mexico, China, Columbia, Spain, Canada and Japan. New Zealand’s presentation, led by James Wilde from NZTE and supported by Dr Cather Simpson (Engender Technologies), Tim Cutfield (Agrigate) and Paul Whiston (LIC Automation) was a standout!

Our agritech discussions have continued - through the Farming 2020 event in May and with next week’s Fieldays. There you'll find Callaghan Innovation in the Innovations LAB, where businesses can access a free innovation knowledge bank. We'll also be launching our inaugural Award for Partnership and Collaboration, and our co-partnership of the Business & International Centre (a networking hub for international buyers and media) will see our Chief Technology Officer Dr Chris Hartshorn deliver several seminars that will explore how technology will change the future of agritech businesses - and our world. 

Deals are being done, connections are being made, and we will watch with interest over the next 12 months for the benefits that these bring to NZ.

Callaghan Innovation is a New Zealand government innovation agency that works with Kiwi companies to accelerate commercialisation of their new technology ideas.  Our specialised agritech team supports businesses through the use of technology in agriculture, horticulture, and aquaculture with the aim of improving yield, efficiency and profitability