First seven Hi-tech start-ups from new tech incubators

  • Steven Joyce
Science and Innovation

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce today welcomed the first seven innovative start-ups receiving repayable grants from the new technology incubators funded through Callaghan Innovation.

The seven Hi-tech start-ups are on their way to commercialising valuable new intellectual property (IP) after each receiving repayable grants of up to $450,000 over two years administered by the three technology incubators - Powerhouse Ventures, Astrolab and WNT Ventures. 

Those approved for repayable grants include Christchurch-based CropLogic Ltd, commercialised through technology incubator Powerhouse Ventures. CropLogic will use the funding, alongside co-investment from Powerhouse, to integrate aerial image analysis technology developed by the University of Canterbury to help growers optimise their crop yields. 

Another promising recipient is Avalia Immunotherapies Ltd, established to commercialise technology jointed developed by Victoria University of Wellington’s Ferrier Research Institute and the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research aimed at improving the efficacy of immunotherapies and vaccines for a range of health indications.

“It’s great to see these kinds of companies beginning to emerge from the new technology incubators, which are clearly fulfilling their promise to produce the smart start-ups we need to grow our economy and provide New Zealand with a competitive edge across a range of sectors,” Mr Joyce says. “Growing many more new companies in our hi-tech sector is crucial to maintaining a strong economy.”

Other start-ups confirmed to receive repayable grants are:

  • Tiro Lifesciences Ltd - an early-stage medical diagnostic company focusing initially on the development of technology for the detection of breast cancer in dense tissue.
  • Koti Technologies Ltd – a start-up developing ceramic coatings to produce hard-wearing, bacteria-killing products for high-touch surfaces for example in hospitals.
  • Certusbio Ltd – a start-up based on range of new biosensor technologies for industrial and environmental monitoring.
  • Fluent Scientific Ltd – a start-up based on technology combining facial and voice analysis to increase the accuracy of emotion detection.
  • Invert Robotics Ltd – a start-up based on robotic ultrasonic technology for detecting and characterising surface cracks in stainless steel tanks and silos.

“Twenty-two pre-incubation grants, each worth $35,000, have also been allocated for the technology incubators to explore promising start-ups commercialising intellectual property in areas such as nanotechnology, food and beverages, and advanced telecommunications, prior to applying for repayable grants,” Mr Joyce says.

Technology-focused incubators are privately-owned businesses that concentrate on commercialising complex intellectual property sourced primarily from publicly funded research organisations such as universities and Crown research institutes.  They are modelled on the successful Israeli incubator system.

Cabinet agreed in Budget 2013 to allocate $31.3 million in new funding over four years for the repayable grants.

The Government will contribute up to $450,000 over two years to successful applicants, and this funding is matched 1:3 by incubator owners contributing up to $150,000.

The grants will be repayable out of each company’s revenue.