Opportunities for startups and tech companies

Everything is starting to come together in the New Zealand startup ecosystem. M-Com, Zeacom and Greenbutton have recently gone through incubator programmes and are establishing themselves in the market alongside sustainable high-growth technology companies like Xero, Vend and PowerbyProxi. 


Angel investment continues to grow, with the number of companies being funded and the aggregate amount invested at record highs.

There are also initiatives to educate, inspire and support the next generation of entrepreneurs, like the Young Enterprise Scheme, startup weekends, incubators to help fledgling businesses get off the ground, and more recently, the Lightning Lab accelerator for tech startups.

How accelerators work

Accelerators are a new type of initiative that help entrepreneurs to do more, faster. Ten talented startups with opportunities in the digital space are mixed with world-class mentors, seed funding and an expansive network to produce scalable, feasible and fundable companies.

The programme culminates in Demo Day, where each team pitches to a roomful of investors to raise further funding. Accelerators represent an internationally proven method for the creation of successful technology companies. Well-known companies such as Airbnb, Dropbox and SendGrid all got their starts in accelerators.

Lightning Lab Auckland, March–May 2015

Lightning Lab is a world-class accelerator that helps startups to scale 10 times quicker, and it’s running an intensive programme for entrepreneurs in Auckland next year. Lightning Lab offers the chance to gain access to experienced entrepreneurs and executives who can help you shape your startup into a company people will want to invest in.

Originally based in Wellington, Lightning Lab ran its first programme in 2013 and has helped nine teams raise over $4.4m in seed funding. Lightning Lab provides funding, networks and expertise to help grow the next wave of technology companies. Applications are open now for 10 startups for the programme.

A bigger, better incubator network

New Zealand’s nationwide network of business incubators grew this year, with a government funding boost for new technology-focused incubators designed to get more high-growth startups off the ground.

Callaghan Innovation’s Incubator Support Programme offers two kinds of business incubation programmes:

Founder-focused incubators

Previously known as ‘business incubators’ these organisations give entrepreneurs access to support, networks and investment to help them take a business idea, validate it in the market and - if there’s a market - to build a business.

The Icehouse Ltd (external link) (Auckland)

The Bio Commerce Centre (external link) (Palmerston North)

Creative HQ Ltd (external link) (Wellington)

eCentre Ltd (external link) (Auckland)

Soda Inc Ltd (external link) (Hamilton)

Technology-focused incubators

These incubators have a market-based, profit-driven focus to establish businesses based on complex technologies, often derived from public research and development.

They are also able to access a new repayable grant by applying to Callaghan Innovation on behalf of the startup companies they incubate. The grants will help more innovative, complex technology-based startups get off the ground and provide a route for the commercialisation of publicly funded IP, while requiring the businesses to repay the grants when they begin to generate revenues.

PowerHouse (external link) (Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin)

Astrolab (external link) (Auckland)

WNT Ventures (external link) (Tauranga)

Find out more about Lightning Lab (external link) and Callaghan Innovation (external link)

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