Posts Tagged ‘investment’

Curating Community Key To Success

Thursday, June 2nd, 2022

Blackbird Ventures’ recent visit to ThincLab was all about the well known venture capital firm getting to know our founders. But it was also about community building, collegiality and learning.

After numerous false starts thanks to lockdowns and alert level changes, we finally managed to pull off our long awaited event hosting the New Zealand Blackbird and Startmate crews at the University of Canterbury Centre for Entrepreneurship. Having created $10 billion in equity across some of Australia’s earliest unicorns, not to mention a generous sprinkling of other high growth companies, Blackbird Ventures has emerged over the last decade as Australasia’s largest and most active venture capital firm.

Whilst venture investment may not be for everyone, for those companies embarking on the journey, preparation is key. So we had Blackbird principal Phoebe Harrop lead a pitch workshop with founders from across the Christchurch ecosystem invited. Kathleen Yee from Plant My Carbon stepped up to give her Food, Fibre & Agritech Supernode Challenge pitch for the first time. “It was a wonderful opportunity to get feedback from a leading investor with the support of a room full of friendly founders” she said. Liam Beale CEO of Zealandia Systems, a ThincLab Growth programme company, also pitched. He explained that the session gave him some fresh ideas about refining his material ahead of some big sales events and conferences.

Harrop, who now runs the New Zealand wing of Blackbird, expressed that she is a big fan of building community. Blackbird is all about “finding the wild hearts” she says and investors ultimately rely on a pipeline of opportunities created by a vibrant and connected community. This has led to a promise of renewed engagement across the wider startup ecosystem including the announcement of a new Sunrise event planned for later this year. Now with the news of NZ Growth Capital Partners committing $30 million to Blackbird’s second $100M Kiwi fund and the relationship with Blackbird on a firm footing, it’s a fair bet there’s going to be a lot more pitch practice happening around the office.

Sustainable Foodtech For A Hungry World

Friday, April 8th, 2022

Food sustainability is becoming a huge topic of conversation worldwide and hungry investors are waking up to the growth possibilities as we track towards 10 billion mouths to feed by 2050. Investment research company PitchBook tracked almost US $40 Billion in venture capital flow into food tech in 2021, double the previous year’s figures. But with an estimated $1 Trillion+ required to transition the global food industry to a greener low carbon future, the sky’s the limit.

One of the most interesting categories in food tech right now is the fast emerging ingredients sector, as consumers increasingly shift away from traditional sources of protein in search of healthier options with lower environmental impact. Driven by continual innovations in plant-based food technologies, the demand for high quality source materials continues to grow rapidly. Last week’s announcement that Khosla Ventures was investing in Canterbury based Leaft Foods is testament to the scale of the opportunity. Plant-based burgers and lab grown chicken are no longer fanciful subjects of science fiction.

So our producers need to monitor and continually adapt to global developments, rather than assuming that the demand for traditional proteins will remain unchanged. Evolving consumer needs and advances in food science are both a threat and an opportunity to an agricultural nation such as New Zealand. So we dropped in on SGInnovate’s deep tech webinar series to find out how Singapore is turning to science and innovation to find solutions to food security and sustainability.

SGInnovate actively supports entrepreneurial researchers to commercialise deep tech across the science spectrum in Singapore, including facilitating connections to capital and talent. In 2020 the Singaporean government allocated a staggering S$300 million to support the project as part of an overall commitment to drive up public investment in research, science and technology to 1% of GDP. SG Innovate has built up an impressive portfolio of more than 80 deep tech ventures so far. Conversely in New Zealand the approach has been to invest as little as possible from the public purse and simply outsource deep tech incubation to foreign operators without consideration to building a wider innovation ecosystem.

However panelists at the agrifood webinar were clearly in favour of governments playing an active role in the development of the research, science and technology landscape. But they also pointed to the government role in bringing digitalisation to rural economies through better infrastructure, training farmer producers as well as addressing the regulatory environment to encourage innovation. For example Singapore was the first country to approve retail sales of cultured meat. Fittingly speaker Geraldine Goh from the recently established Foodtech Innovation Centre had the last word on futuristic foods yet to be developed by the scientist entrepreneurs of the avid food loving island nation. “It will be all about taste, texture and nutrition”.

ThincLab Canterbury is a delivery partner for the 2022 Food, Fibre and Agritech Supernode Challenge

Singapore will be hosting the Asia-Pacific Agri-Food Innovation Summit in October 2022.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Greentech Surpassing Sunset Industries

Monday, March 14th, 2022

Global headwinds such as resurgent interest rates and pandemic induced supply chain difficulties may have led to a cyclical downturn in share price fortunes for listed greentech companies lately, but the rivers of private capital pouring into the sector continue unabated.

Industry commitments to reaching net zero carbon by 2050 are growing, bolstered by the trend toward embedding ESG principals into corporate decision-making and the likelihood of government interventions for non-performers. So the green transition is happening faster than most people are aware. Industry leaders like former Bank of England CEO Mark Carney last year announced an alliance of investment firms to set its sights on facilitating the staggering $100 Trillion in investment estimated to be needed for decarbonisation of the global economy over the next two decades.

So with new climate based investment funds launching almost weekly and private equity investors taking a 40 year view, the future remains very bright for the emerging “greentech” sector. The definition of greentech covers just about any industry involved in directly or indirectly reducing emissions of greenhouse gases including renewable energy, alternative transport and new foods. It’s a space that many New Zealand firms could comfortably fit into. For example Taupo based Geo40 that has begun extracting high value lithium salts from geothermal waste water, for use in electric car batteries. ThincLab alumni such as Berkano Foods, Kea Aerospace and Zincovery have also been playing their part directing us toward a greener future.

Estimates vary depending on analysis methodology but it has been estimated that around $100 Billion in fresh investment went into American and European companies working on decarbonisation technologies across 2021 according to a report by PWC. Research firm BloombergNEF stated that over half of that investment went into startups. Venture capital funds are now allocating 14% of their capital into the sector on average. But more significantly, some of the largest global investment funds have begun to sell down holdings in polluting industries, in favour of reinvesting in climate friendly businesses and infrastructure projects.

ThincLab Canterbury works with a number of companies in cleantech and is a delivery partner for the 2022 Food, Fibre & Agritech Supernode Challenge. We are committed to showing environmental and sustainability leadership through supporting our client companies. If you have a scalable, technology based solution that addresses environmental problems or decarbonisation, please contact us for advisory support with strategy, partnerships and capital-raising.