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KiwiNet secures funding from MBIE for research commercialisation of deep tech

08 Jul 2019
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The ongoing success of KiwiNet’s collaborative research commercialisation activities has been recognised with a significantly enhanced funding contract from The Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) under The Commercialisation Partner Network (CPN).

KiwiNet will receive $2,179,319 million per annum from MBIE to grow their collaborative model to commercialise science and research, a 93% increase in funding per annum.  KiwiNet has also secured $4,972,460 million investment funding per annum from MBIE’s PreSeed Accelerator Fund, a 45% increase in PreSeed funding, to turn public research discoveries into products and services which can then be successfully brought to market.

KiwiNet has attracted a groundswell of support since its inception in 2008 with four partner organisations. The KiwiNet Innovation Network is the combined power of 18 of New Zealand’s Universities, Crown Research Institutes and other research organisations who receive public funding, working closely together to turn research ideas into commercial value. With the recent addition of Massey Ventures Ltd and Health Innovation Hub, KiwiNet members now represent a total combined research expenditure of over $800 million and over 80% of New Zealand’s publicly-funded researchers, which equates to a combined research capability of around 8000 researchers.

“It’s fantastic to receive this increased support from the Government, which shows their commitment to research commercialisation and innovation and recognises the role we’re playing in New Zealand’s future economic success,” says KiwiNet CEO James Hutchinson. “By leveraging the Government’s substantial investment in research discovery, to date, we’ve generated a greater than seven-fold return on investment, from $38 million of PreSeed Accelerator Investment from MBIE, with business co-investing a further $20 million alongside this.”

KiwiNet has backed over 950 projects involving hundreds of researchers from KiwiNet PreSeed pooling partners, resulting in 383 commercial deals across 167 projects, including 39 start-up companies formed.

Hutchinson says, “We’ve kick-started technologies and companies, which have generated $293 million total known revenue to New Zealand businesses and research organisations, through our collaborative approach to transforming scientific discoveries into investor-ready innovation.  We now want to double down on this success.

“MBIE’s increased support will help us deliver on our vision to unlock the innovative potential of our science at the laboratory end to create an avalanche of deep-tech ventures for the startup pipeline, which has also received a big boost with the Government’s new $300 million venture fund. This focus on science and innovation will drive prosperity, enhance and sustain intergenerational wellbeing, and grow New Zealand for all.”

The Commercialisation Partner Network (CPN) is a funding programme that was established by MBIE in 2010 with the aim of aggregating the technology transfer activities of New Zealand’s public research organisations so that a science and innovation eco-system might be accelerated. The CPN works hand-in-hand with MBIE’s PreSeed Accelerator Fund, to support early-stage commercialisation of public research discoveries to progress them to a point of investor-readiness.

MBIE's Senior Investment Manager - Science System Investment and Performance - Labour, Science and Enterprise at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Jez Weston, says: “The CPN partners, KiwiNet and Return On Science, are working together to deliver measurable results in terms of improved and increased commercialisation of publicly funded research.

KiwiNet runs a range of activities to empower the people who commercialise research and maximise commercial success from the most promising research discoveries across New Zealand, including commercialisation workshops, industry engagement events, investor introduction activities and the annual KiwiNet Research Commercialisation Awards. KiwiNet also provides commercial mentors for projects and investment to support commercialisation.

A core function for KiwiNet is running an Investment Committee that invests MBIE PreSeed Accelerator Funding into new commercial ventures promoted by KiwiNet members.