Launch Taranaki and NZVIF to invest in local startups

The New Zealand Venture Investment Fund and Launch Taranaki, the New Plymouth-based angel investment fund, have formed a partnership to invest into start-up companies, primarily in Taranaki.

Launch Taranaki was formed last year.  The angel group has over 20 members, and is chaired by Ian Frame, who previously ran Rangatira, a Wellington-based private equity fund, for over a decade.  The government-owned NZVIF partners with angel groups and investors through its Seed Fund to co-invest into young startups.

Frame said in a media release  that the partnership with NZVIF’s Seed Co-Investment Fund – or SCIF as it is known – will bring more investment into innovative companies in the Taranaki region.

“The new investment partnership will increase the available capital for investment giving both investors and entrepreneurs confidence that the investment round will be successfully completed.

“Our focus will be on new companies emerging in Taranaki in the first instance. Taranaki has a reputation for innovation and entrepreneurial activity, not only in our traditional strengths in the agri and oil and gas exploration, but also in sectors like software and tourism-related ventures.  These are the areas we expect to be investing into.

“The partnership recently saw Launch Taranaki and SCIF invest into a medical software company – First Check, a New Plymouth start-up which has developed an app which helps with early detection of skin cancer and melanoma.

“Launch Taranaki will also be investing in opportunities throughout New Zealand to ensure we have a broad portfolio of companies and spread the risk.”

New members are welcome, and will benefit from early access to local and national investment opportunities, have the ability to network with like-minded investors and experienced business leaders while giving back to the region by helping to grow the next wave of business talent, Frame said.

This is the eighteenth SCIF partnership and the first in Taranaki.  To date, NZVIF and its angel partners have co-invested around $142 million into over 160 companies.

NZVIF investment director Bridget Unsworth said that the new partnership will help to keep up the momentum in the angel investment sector.

“The past year has seen record investment activity across New Zealand with $69 million invested by angel funds and groups.  Taranaki has been an area we have been very interested in engaging with – and we are confident Launch Taranaki will be an active investor in the local economy.

“Launch Taranaki will identify opportunities to invest into young companies.  NZVIF then makes its own assessments to determine whether to co-invest alongside.  When SCIF does co-invest, it increases the capital available to fund a company’s development.

“A few years ago, a group of Bay of Plenty investors formed a new angel fund – Enterprise Angels – and that has helped to fund a number of exciting young companies in that region.  We hope that Launch Taranaki will have a similar impact on the Taranaki economy.”

It is a buoyant time for the angel investment sector with funds investing a record $69 million into young New Zealand companies in 2016 – a 13 percent increase on the previous record set in 2015, Bridget Unsworth said.

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