Technology Incubators

World-class support for deep-tech start-ups

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Do you have a track record of helping deep-tech companies thrive? Let's work together.

New Zealand’s deep-tech ecosystem is fast-emerging: a connected community of deep technical and scientific research with the potential to solve many problems.

Technologies like biotech and aerospace technology - which come, largely, from research out of universities - are key to creating a higher-value economy. But much of this valuable IP doesn’t continue on a commercial path, missing out on creating successful high-value businesses, jobs and exports. 

Callaghan Innovation’s Tech Incubator programme plays a critical role in this difficult, but very rewarding, space. New Zealand is one of only a few countries in the world offering this unique model of public-private partnership for the incubation of deep-tech companies. 

Since 2014 our Tech Incubator pilot programme has produced 45 new start-ups, attracted more than $50 million in investments, and created over 160 new tech jobs. Success stories including Croplogic, Invert Robotics and Onesixone have benefited from the programme, and continue to grow.  

We currently work with three tech incubators who provide commercialisation support, advice and connections for start-ups to help them take very complex technologies to market. In addition to this, through the incubators Callaghan Innovation provides access to a limited number of repayable loans for these start-ups. 

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RFP for Tech Incubation providers - 2020

With a new framework in place we are now seeking incubators with the knowledge, connections and skills to ensure our IP is converted into successful commercial outcomes: high-value businesses, jobs and exports.

We’re looking for incubators that can apply their wealth of international commercialisation expertise, access to international investment and pathways to market, to the opportunities within the thriving Kiwi start-up ecosystem.

Incubators will have access to promising young companies, their ideas and ambition, as well as the opportunity to influence the development of the New Zealand start-up ecosystem and the growth of the economy.

Callaghan Innovation funding will include contributions to operational costs and access to repayable loan funding of up to $750,000 for each venture that they incubate. International incubators will be expected to establish a significant presence in New Zealand, including the permanent location of key management and incubation expertise in New Zealand – this could be by establishing a New Zealand-based subsidiary.

The Request For Proposals (RFP) is open to current, local and international providers who meet the ambitious new criteria, and will close on 4 October 2019. Services for current start-ups under the Tech Incubation Programme will continue as normal in the meantime. We will work with start-ups and incubators to answer any questions.

 
 

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FAQs - Refreshed Technology and Founder Incubator policies

 
See the RFP here with requirements and contract of the Tech Incubation Programme, in addition to the new Technology Incubator Policy on MBIE’s website.
 
What is the purpose of Tech Incubators?
The Technology Incubator programme helps start-ups commercialise complex technology like biotech and aerospace technology - which come, largely, from research out of universities. These technologies are generally more expensive and take longer to commercialise than others, but when they do, have a significant potential for earning and job creation.
 
How do Tech Incubators work?
Callaghan Innovation’s Tech Incubator Programme plays a critical role in this difficult, but very rewarding, space. We currently work with tech incubators who provide commercialisation support, advice and connections for start-ups to help them take very complex technologies to market. These types of deep technologies, similar to IP created in universities, require more time, investment and technical expertise to get them market-ready than others. In addition to this, through the incubators Callaghan Innovation provides access to a limited number of repayable loans for these start-ups. 
 
Who can apply to become a Technology Incubator?
Service providers that meet the new requirements are welcome to apply. That may include local, international and current providers. However, we will be assessing applications based on the new ambitious criteria. See more detailed information in the RFP
 
What are changes under the new RFP and contracts?
Briefly, the new framework includes:
  • The requirement of incubators to have strong commercialisation experience, access to investment and pathways to global markets

  • More rigorous guidelines and performance metrics, with a serious data focus

  • Providers must be able to demonstrate sufficient liquid capital to invest in their ventures 

  • Access to a maximum of $750,000 of operational funding, which each incubator must co-fund 50% of over the life of the contract

  • Each incubator will have access to funding for select start-ups going through its incubation services, including 10 pre-incubation and 5 repayable grants per year

  • A new maximum amount for repayable grants available to incubated companies of $750,000 (matched by $250,000 of co-funding from the incubator). The current maximum is $450,000 (matched by $150,000 of co-funding from the incubator)

  • Service contracts of up to 8 years, dependent on meeting performance expectations.

 
What about Founder Incubators?
We have decided not to retender Founder Incubator contracts at this stage. Instead we will extend current Founder Incubator and Accelerator contracts through to June 2021 while we develop a new framework for delivering these programmes and secure additional funding.
 
Will any changes impact services for start-ups?
We anticipate the resulting changes will be very beneficial to start-ups. As always, we will work with providers to ensure there is minimal impact on start-ups while we move towards the new incubation policy and contracts. Services for current start-ups under the Tech Incubation Programme will continue as normal in the meantime. 
 
Will the changes be applied retrospectively?
The contract changes will be implemented from January 2020, and are not retrospective. Those start-ups and providers currently under the Tech Incubator Programme will continue with the existing contract details, equity and repayable loan amounts. 
 
What is the timeline for implementation?
The Request For Proposals (RFP) is open to current, local and international providers who meet the ambitious new criteria, and will close on 04 October 2019. Timelines for confirming and starting the new contracts will depend on the response to the RFP. We will provide key stakeholders with updates as soon as we can.
 
What were the outcomes of the Government’s Tech Incubator review?
The review noted some significant positive outcomes over the five-year pilot including producing 45 new start-ups, attracting more than $50 million in investments, and creating over 160 new tech jobs. However, as expected and as an outcome of MBIE’s review, there are improvements to be made for a more ambitious programme.
 
Where can I find more detail about the review and policy?
MBIE has published some more information and background documents on its website

Updated: 3 July 2019