Technology and product development

New Zealand CleanTech Mission

All of us are interconnected by Te Taiao, our natural environment, and have a responsibility to not only preserve it, but to leave it better for future generations.

Innovators, investors, corporates, government and others are working together to develop a globally competitive New Zealand CleanTech ecosystem. The aim is to grow businesses that develop innovative offerings, provide meaningful jobs and help solve climate change, water quality and resource-use problems for New Zealand and, importantly, the world.


Callaghan Innovation is leading New Zealand's CleanTech Mission partnership

In July 2021, the New Zealand CleanTech Mission partnership was launched  to help Kiwi businesses develop world-leading CleanTech. Led by Callaghan Innovation, our mission partners include:

  • Callaghan Innovation: NZ's innovation agency helping create savvy, ambitious, R&D-performing businesses that take on the world
  • Auckland Unlimited: Auckland’s economic and cultural agency driving investment and innovation, and supporting Auckland businesses to thrive
  • Science for Technological Innovation National Science Challenge (SfTI): a 10-year Government investment boosting physical sciences and engineering to tackle high-tech challenges
  • UniServices: a not-for-profit company of the University of Auckland helping to commercialise research with the power to change the world
  • New Zealand Capital Growth Partners (NZGCP):  Government fund stimulating investment into early-stage Kiwi companies with high-growth potential.

What is CleanTech?

CleanTech: High-tech businesses creating products to help solve climate change and other environmental problems.

ClimateTech: High-tech businesses creating products to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in areas such as alternative foods, alternative fuels and energy storage. 

Environmental innovation: A whole-of-system view of innovation bringing together factors such as policy, infrastructure and technology to  deliver transformative positive impacts for the environment.

The most successful CleanTech businesses develop breakthrough innovations by understanding commercial niches better than anyone else and combining expertise from previously unconnected fields or industries.

James Muir - Callaghan Innovation CleanTech Lead

NZ CleanTech Guide:

In addition to the CleanTech content on Scale-Up New Zealand, Callaghan Innovation has created resources to help people navigate this promising and complex ecosystem - the NZ CleanTech Guide. 

This includes an assessment of almost 300 CleanTech innovators which Callaghan Innovation has worked with recently. In Financial Year 2020, 98 of these CleanTech innovators generated $330m revenue, supported 1,860 jobs and invested $95m in R&D. 

The resources also include a description of the CleanTech innovation ecosystem to guide CleanTech innovators to many of the organizations that will help them:


The NZ CleanTech Mission Approach

At the recent Mission Aotearoa; Mapping our Future Webinar, Rowan Conway, Head of the Mission Oriented Innovation Network, presented on changing how innovation is imagined, practiced and evaluated to tackle societal challenges such as climate change. The figure below illustrates the key differences between conventional and mission approaches to innovation. Adopting a mission approach, she is interested in how innovation is imagined, practised and evaluated. She seeks to ensure that innovation is a clear direction, or pathway, as demonstrated in the figures below. 

Missions also provide a highly visible and explicit invitation to innovate, without which a challenge such as climate change might otherwise seem too large or existential to tackle.

Rowan Conway - Head of the Mission Oriented Innovation Network  

Ecosystem activity and updates

About C-Prize 2019

2021 has seen plenty of developments in the ecosystem, with many new initiatives kicking off to help Kiwi CleanTech innovators.  

  • Government partnership: Callaghan Innovation is working together with Auckland Unlimited, Science for Technological Innovation, Auckland UniServices, New Zealand Growth Capital Partners, and others to make CleanTech happen in New Zealand. This new partnership, the NZ CleanTech Mission, was launched in July 2021.
  • Climate Tech report: The precursor to the NZ CleanTech Mission partnership, in July 2021 Callaghan Innovation commissioned and released an independent report from the CleanTech Group, ‘New Zealand Climate Tech for the World’. The report provides an independent comprehensive view of New Zealand’s Clean Tech and Climate Tech ecosystem, alongside recommendations on how to improve.
  • NZ CleanTech Guide: Callaghan Innovation has released  a description of the NZ CleanTech ecosystem to help New Zealand CleanTech innovators find the organisations that will help them achieve their goals, alongside a map of organisations active in this space. Alongside these materials, Callaghan Innovation has also prepared an assessment of CleanTech innovators to set a baseline for our CleanTech target.
  • New climate investment funds: Punakaiki’s parent company, LWCM, is fundraising to launch a $50m Climate Venture Capital Fund whilst Icehouse has launched the $20m Sustainable Technology Fund. ACC have also announced they will be launching a $50m Climate Change Impact Investment Fund in Q3 of 2021. Impact Enterprise Fund raised close to $9m in 2018 to invest in businesses providing tangible societal or environmental returns.
  • Climate Accelerator: Creative HQ, with support from Callaghan Innovation, has launched the ‘Climate Response Accelerator’, to develop new innovative businesses and products to create solutions for climate change. The accelerator builds on the success of Callaghan’s environmental innovation C-Prize in 2019. 
  • NZX Carbon index: NZX launched New Zealand’s first carbon efficient indices in partnership with the world’s leading index provider, S&P Dow Jones Indices, amid rapidly growing investor interest, and action globally to reduce carbon emissions and address climate change.
  • Climate Change Commission: The Climate Change Commission (CCC) is looking into how New Zealand can meet its climate targets. It released its final advice to the Government at the end of May 2021, following its earlier draft report. The final advice emphasizes the role of innovation in helping NZ on it’s journey to a climate-resilient, low-carbon future. Read Callaghan Innovation’s submission to the CCC here: PDF icon Callaghan-Innovation-Submission-on-the-Climate-Change-Commissions-2021-Draft-Advice.pdf
  • NZ Green Investment Finance: In the 2021 Budget, the government announced an extra $300 million to quadruple the size of NZ Green Investment Finance funds to kick-start low carbon technologies. 
  • Climate innovation on Techweek TV 2021: Callaghan Innovation CleanTech Lead, James Muir, participated in a Techweek 2021 panel to discuss the challenges of securing capital to back New Zealand cleantech innovators.

CleanTech Stories and News

Callaghan Innovation currently works with more than 280 businesses creating innovative products to solve environmental challenges across water use, waste management, emissions reductions, and smarter resource use.

Check out a few of the stories of New Zealand’s CleanTech innovators below, and more on our news and events page.

Back to nature

Biotelliga is developing biologically-based technologies to help growers protect their crops from pests and disease.

Read more about Back to nature

Greener pastures

It was once said our economy was built off the sheep’s back, but look closer and you’ll see...

Read more about Greener pastures

Mint Innovation team

Good as gold

Mint Innovation has developed technology that extracts gold from e-waste – literally turning trash into treasure.

Read more about Good as gold


Breaking bread

Environmental innovators Citizen rescue unsold bread to make beer, then use the ‘mash’ from that process to make bread.

Read more about Breaking bread

Cementing eco-friendly building

Neocrete is a New Zealand-based company focused on reducing the carbon footprint of concrete and improving its performance.

Read more about Cementing eco-friendly building

Fast track to electric ferries

With the Hauraki Gulf on its doorstep, it's no wonder that Auckland’s ferry service provides over 6 million passenger journeys every year.

Read more about Fast track to electric ferries

REPORT: CleanTech opportunities and challenges

An independent report, 'New Zealand Climate Tech For The World', benchmark's NZ’s current environmental innovation ecosystem, across CleanTech and specifically ClimateTech, against other comparably sized small, advanced economies (SAEs).

Report findings include significant economic and environmental opportunity for NZ CleanTech, and several key hurdles to overcome for sector growth.

REPORT: The Waste to Value opportunity

New waste to value report

The time for CleanTech has arrived. Now, more than ever, the world needs innovative solutions to environmental challenges, so how can NZ CleanTech businesses maximise this opportunity and help secure the future of the planet?

Our report, ‘The New Waste to Value’ dives into the opportunities and challenges being explored by Kiwi CleanTech innovators and showcases some of their work.


Government partnership on CleanTech

Callaghan Innovation is working together with Auckland Unlimited, New Zealand Growth Capital Partners, Science for Technological Innovation National Science Challenge, and Auckland UniServices to help businesses develop world-leading CleanTech. 

Keep an eye out for more on the partnership in mid-2021.



Stay in touch

Subscribe to our newsletter, events and latest updates.

Back to top