Jacques Richter is Associate Investment Director at New Zealand Capital Growth Partners (NZGCP). He shares some bold founders who are bringing disruptive innovation to market, with NZGCP’s support.
At NZGCP we are proud to back the next generation of technology companies that will continue to drive the transformation of New Zealand to a low carbon, high productivity economy. Our Aspire fund invests directly in promising technology start-ups, predominantly in the pre-series A stages of commercialisation. Kiwi innovators continue to inspire with their audacity in reimagining our future. Two of the areas in which we see breakthrough innovation are decarbonisation and medical advances. We are privileged to have welcomed a number of new companies into our portfolio that we believe have the potential to make outsized positive impact on a global scale.
Captivate Technology, for instance, are developing carbon capture materials that could enable the removal of CO2 from flue gases in industrial processes. Their proprietary material is showing promising early signs of significant improvements in efficiency for extracting carbon for longer term sequestration. The technology could be particularly suited to the CO2 released during the production of cement and steel, which account for an estimated 15%-20% of all man-made emissions. Similarly, CarbonCrop is promoting the capture of CO2 by developing an operationally streamlined AI platform that assesses, manages and monitors carbon sequestration in line with local Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) regulations, enabling landowners to access carbon offset markets through an easy-to-use dashboard. This incentivises the rejuvenation of native forest which has far greater environmental benefits than carbon sequestration alone.
In clean energy generation, we have backed Bspkl, who are developing catalyst coated membranes for hydrogen electrolysers. Their technology reduces the need for platinum group metals by up to 25 times, which could potentially relieve a key bottleneck thereby enabling the hydrogen economy. When it comes to having a bold vision, start-ups like OpenStar are few and far between. Their ambition to tackle fusion energy (the holy grail in clean energy production) in a novel way is quite literally aiming for the stars.
In health technology we continue to see companies that promise to not only improve patient outcomes, but to do so at massive cost savings to public health providers. Wellumio is an early-stage company developing a miniaturised MRI machine. The company is developing a highly accurate, portable, and cost-effective solution to pre-hospital stroke detection. This could ensure that stroke patients get the appropriate treatment within the first “golden hour”. Kitea Health is developing the first permanently implantable pressure sensor for human use. This platform could have a significant impact on preventative care for neurological and cardiovascular conditions. Avasa is developing an arterial coupler which promises to vastly improve patient outcomes and reduce vascular surgeon workload.
There are other sectors of excellence where New Zealand has proven its potential to punch above its weight in bringing disruptive innovation to market. These include waste-to-value, space technology, SaaS, fintech and gaming among others. As a nation, we do have some catching up to do to other comparative economies, so as investors we need to keep supporting bold founders with breakthrough technologies, especially in the current economic climate.