Friday, July 8, 2022

Seed for funding bright ideas

Start-ups are a gamble but innovators in Manawatu are being offered a seed fund to get them under way.

For applicants like Massey University’s Jason Wargent, a fund backed by the Central Energy Trust could be the difference between a bright idea and a commercial one.

A maximum of $500,000 will go on the line over three years to promote growth in Palmerston North and the wider Manawatu.

Jason, who is working on light technology to increase plant yield, has the sort of idea that could be evolved, The New Zealand Farmers Weekly has been told.

The seed funding will be administered by an organisation called the BCC, which says it is devoted to turning innovative ideas into thriving new businesses. 

It secures investment funding to grow technology businesses, offer management support and mentoring for start-ups, and facilitate the journey from concept to commercialisation.

The Central Energy Trust's contribution will be supplemented by further funding from other investors, government sources and MIG Angels, the BCC's investment wing.

The seed fund is based on a successful investment model that has been operating effectively in Israel for several years.

BCC's chief executive Dean Tilyard visited Sweden, Singapore and Israel before deciding to tweak the Middle Eastern formula for New Zealand conditions.

He says previously young companies have failed or grown slowly and missed their opportunity. This has been tragic for a region like Manawatu, which is rich in technology and research, he says.

The model impressed Central Energy Trust trustees, who decided to support it by creating a special seeding fund of sufficient substance to get more early-stage projects under way as quickly as possible.

Subject to the satisfaction of an application, the Central Trust will pledge $500,000 over three years to a maximum of $200,000 in any given year.  A successful project will receive up to $100,000.

 Central Energy trustee Sir Brian Elwood sees the fund's objective as helping people with

sound ideas but who lack the necessary capital to get under way with a start-up pathway.

 “From our perspective the best outcome will be several start-up enterprises, leading to the development of the Manawatu economy and the creation of new employment opportunities," Sir Brian says.

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