Startup Advisors Council appointed

Economic and Regional Development Research, Science and Innovation

The Government has appointed a Startup Advisors’ Council to help identify and address the opportunities and challenges facing high growth start-up businesses, Research, Science, and Innovation Minister Megan Woods, and Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash have announced.

“Startups are major contributors to the knowledge and innovation that we know are fundamental to New Zealand’s economic recovery as well as resilience, ongoing economic growth, the creation of highly skilled jobs, and to people in Aotearoa enjoying a high quality of life,” says Megan Woods. 

“Startups are often high tech, rapidly growing businesses which compete in the global market. They can generate significant levels of research and development and drive economic growth, sometimes developing entirely new industries.  

“The Council whose members have extensive experience in the startup and angel investor industry will enable more co-ordinated and targeted action from government, helping lift productivity,” Megan Woods said.

“We know that New Zealand has a strong startup ecosystem that has demonstrated impressive resilience over the last two years. Startups and smart capital are important engines for productivity growth, and our Government is committed to deepening capital markets through initiatives such as New Zealand Growth Capital Partners,” Stuart Nash said.

“The Startup Council will help us to better understand the challenges facing startups and the actions we need to take to create an even better environment for innovative startups to thrive. I have seen the value of the approach through my work with the Small Business Council, which produced a strategy in 2019. The government backed these recommendations through immediate changes, and the strategy continues to influence Government policy today.

“This includes the recently announced Business Growth Fund, which will enable New Zealand’s small and medium sized enterprises to access the capital they need to grow and be successful. I anticipate the Startup Council will drive similar positive action that will continue to be felt in the future,” Stuart Nash said.

Seven members will sit on the Council for a term of 12 months. The Council will be chaired by Phil McCaw, founding partner at venture capital fund, Movac and former chair of the Angel Association New Zealand.  

The members of the Council include:  

  • Suse Reynolds, Chair of the Angel Association New Zealand 
  • Marian Johnson, Chief Executive of Ministry of Awesome 
  • Grant Straker (Ngāti Raukawa), co-founder of the A.I. language translation platform Straker Translations
  • Mike Carden, founder of a number of start-ups including Sonar6 and Joyous 
  • Imche Fourie, co-founder and Chief Executive of Auckland-based Outset Ventures 
  • Carl Jones, Managing Partner of WNT Ventures. 

More information on the Startup Advisors Council, including the terms of reference, can be found on the MBIE website.  

Notes to Editors:

Startup Advisors Council members:

  • Phil McCaw [Chair] has a long history of supporting start-ups to grow including through his role as founding partner at venture capital fund, Movac, which has invested in a number of successful New Zealand early-stage ventures. As former Chair of the Angel Association New Zealand he brings extensive experience with regards to investment into startup firms and helping to guide their growth, as well as an awareness of wider international trends.
  • Suse Reynolds is the current Chair of the Angel Association New Zealand as well as one of the founders of Angel HQ (Wellington’s angel investor network). She is experienced in early stage finance and is able to bring both knowledge of key sectors, building capability among founders, and in engaging at the regional level.
  • Marian Johnson is Chief Executive of the Christchurch based Ministry of Awesome. She has experience of capability building at the regional level through her work with Te Ōhaka - Centre for Growth & Innovation. The partnership with the Ara Institute of Canterbury means she is able to provide advice on the training and skills and environment, particularly in connecting with young entrepreneurs and founders. She is active in supporting diversity within startups and has led Electrify Aotearoa, the first event to celebrate women founders in New Zealand.
  • Grant Straker (Ngāti Raukawa) is co-founder of the A.I. language translation platform Straker Translations which is headquartered in Auckland but with operations in a number of countries around the world. He is a prominent advocate for Māori in technology. He won the Te Tupu-ā-Nuku Business Award for Excellence in Innovation in 2017.
  • Mike Carden is the founder of a number of start-ups including Sonar6 and Joyous. He is a published author in marketing, employee experience and the software industry, and a past winner of the Bayer Innovators Award. He is regarded as an expert in Software as a Service business models, and technology marketing. He holds board and advisory board roles in various technology companies ranging from investor led early stage through to established public companies.
  • Imche Fourie is co-founder and Chief Executive of Auckland-based Outset Ventures which works with deep-tech startups, especially those using intensive R&D or commercialisation of university research. She has experience of engaging with young people to build investment and governance capabilities through mentorship. She will bring consideration of diversity and inclusion through her work with women founders, as well as understanding wider international trends and connections.
  • Carl Jones is Managing Partner of WNT Ventures a pre-seed and seed stage venture capital fund actively establishing and building deep tech companies. He has been actively involved in companies as diverse as AI/ML, Urban Mining, Advanced Manufacturing, Robotics and Aerospace.