This article was published on 18 November 2020
Callaghan Innovation has set an ambitious target to boost NZ into the top 10 countries on the Cleantech Group Innovation Index (CGII) by 2022 – up from NZ’s current ranking of 22nd.
The CGII forecasts which countries have the greatest potential to produce CleanTech startups that will commercialise innovations over the next 10 years. Callaghan Innovation’s first-ever CleanTech report – NZ CleanTech for the World: The New Waste to Value – highlights NZ’s strong position to launch profitable CleanTech businesses, particularly in the Waste-to-Value space.
‘NZ CleanTech’ refers to successful NZ businesses that develop innovative products, processes and services that bring about a stable climate, clean water and smart-resource use, in NZ and globally. Waste to Value, a subcategory of CleanTech, involves turning waste streams into income.
“NZ’s small scale, R&D expertise in niche areas and environmental challenges make NZ an ideal CleanTech testing ground,” says James Muir, Callaghan Innovation Business Innovation Advisor, Energy and Environment. “It’s clear that investing in, and supporting the development of, unproven innovations in Waste to Value needs to be a focus for NZ going forward.”
NZ also has a strategic advantage in the Biological Waste-to-Value space through the country’s connection to mātauranga (knowledge) Māori, and the role that kaitiakitanga (guardianship) plays in Kiwi innovation.
Of the 120 Kiwi CleanTech businesses on the agency’s database, 51% focus on solutions for stable climate, 28% on smart resource use, and 21% on clean water.
Growing investor interest in CleanTech
CleanTech is already capturing investors’ attention: venture capital investment in ClimateTech alone is growing three times faster than in AI and five times the average growth in overall venture capital investment, according to the latest data from PWC.
“Environmental challenges are only getting bigger and more complex, so business-led innovation needs to play an even bigger and more complex role in solving these challenges,” says Muir.
The value of Waste-to-Value innovations to NZ’s economy is already estimated to be in the billions. Muir says innovation is essential to develop solutions for both environmental problems and NZ’s economy, and to contribute to NZ’s economic recovery after COVID-19.
The CleanTech report highlights two specific areas of Waste to Value – Biological and Industrial – that have significant and largely untapped commercial opportunities in NZ, and shows how partnerships between innovators, investors and government agencies are essential to maximising these opportunities.
For example, nanotechnology and extraction specialist, Ligar, has partnered with Te Whāi Ao Ltd, the investment arm of Te Awanui Huka Pak, owned by Māori horticulturalists. Through Ligar’s spinout business, The Refinery, the businesses are working to commercialise valuable bioactive molecules extracted from waste materials from hops, avocado, kiwifruit and hemp, creating a potential Māori-led export sector.
Kiwi giant, LanzaTech, is a strong example of an Industrial Waste-to-Value success story, having raised more than US$250m over the past 15 years. Its technology turns industrial gas into ethanol which can be used as an energy source, such as jet fuel, reducing CO₂ emissions.
Callaghan Innovation’s CleanTech report showcases a range of Waste-to-Value success stories and provides practical advice on how businesses can turn their own CleanTech concepts into commercial realities.
CleanTech event – NZ CleanTech for the World
On 25 November, we’re hosting our inaugural CleanTech event – NZ CleanTech for the World – to delve into the report themes and hear from CleanTech experts on how to drive innovations in this space.
Hear from a panel of Kiwi CleanTech experts: Veronica Stevenson, Humble Bee founder and CEO, Ashton Partridge, Manufacturing Systems Chief Science Officer and Shalini Divya, TasmanION Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer
These experts will be joined by US-based Kiwi eco-pioneer Dr Sean Simpson, LanzaTech Chief Scientific Officer and Co-Founder. Find out more and register.
Download the NZ CleanTech for the World: The New Waste to Value report.