Tech start-ups on the rise as Govt pledges $30m grants prize

New Zealand’s nationwide network of business incubators is being expanded, with the introduction of a new type of technology-focused incubator designed to get more high-growth start-ups off the ground.

The list of incubators approved by the Callaghan Innovation Board includes three of the new technology-focused incubators and five founder-focused incubators, previously known as Business Incubators.

The technology-focused incubators will have access to the pilot repayable grant programme announced in Budget 2013.

“The response from the market has been really positive, with a considerable number of high quality applications from across New Zealand,” says Steven Joyce, Science and Innovation Minister.

“It has been encouraging to see a number of new applicants entering the incubation space and the keen interest in the new technology incubators.”

After a rigorous assessment process and a final recommendation from an independent panel, the Callaghan Innovation Board approved the following applicants:

Technology-focused incubators:

• PowerHouse (Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin)

• Astrolab (Auckland)

• WNT Ventures (Tauranga)

Founder-focused incubators:

• The Icehouse Ltd (Auckland)

• The Bio Commerce Centre (Palmerston North)

• Creative HQ Ltd (Wellington)

• eCentre Ltd (Auckland)

• Soda Inc Ltd (Hamilton)

Callaghan Innovation and the successful applicants are now in contract negotiations with Joyce saying there was a high rate of collaboration between parties on proposals, especially within regions.

“Collaboration bodes well for developing and growing new companies in our high tech sector, which is crucial to growing our economy,” he adds.

“If we can work smarter across industries and improve our access to innovation we will have a competitive edge in this dynamic and challenging sector.”

The Incubator Support Programme from Callaghan Innovation offers support and funding to two types of business incubator companies, the existing founder focused incubator model and the new technology focused incubators.

Technology-focused incubators are privately owned businesses that will focus on commercialising complex intellectual property primarily sourced from publicly funded research organisations, such as universities and Crown Research Institutes.

According to Joyce, technology-focused incubators will be able to access a new repayable grants tool on behalf of the start-up companies they incubate.

These grants will be administered by Callaghan Innovation and the Government will contribute up to $450,000 over two years to eligible companies resident in technology-focused incubators, matched 1:3 with incubator owners contributing up to $150,000

The Government grants will be repayable out of the company’s revenue – this pilot repayable grants programme has been allocated $31.3m over four years.

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