We are Specialist Generalists. Our specialty is deep tech.
We are curious to learn more about technology advancements and we seek to partner with companies that change the world
- In how we approach climate and human sustainability
- By the materials and methodologies we use to manufacture and produce products
- With the exploration of space and its impact on earth
- In the way humans and animal are sustained, develop, and heal
- And in the advancement of technology for positive change in everyday life
Our portfolio to 2023 consists of companies in advanced manufacturing, medical technology, climate tech, commodity recycling, artificial intelligence, aerospace, agri-tech, sensing, and automation.
We generally do not consider human therapeutics, and invasive medical devices (past class II)
Process for Start-ups
1. Reach Out
Let's have a chat, so you can tell us what you are doing. Contact details are in our team section, or apply through the contact page. We also run virtual and in person Office Hours the first Thursday of every month, details of which can be found on our events page.
2. Follow Up
If your venture meets our criteria, a team member will reach out for a follow-on meeting to dive into some key questions to better understand your idea, unique technology and the problem you are solving. This member becomes your internal champion and will work with you through the due diligence process. If your idea doesn't meet our criteria we will give you feedback and try to help you find the best way forward.
3. Either a) Pre-Incubation
WNT has access to a $35,000 grant to explore the commercial viability of your innovation. We can activate our global network for subject matter expertise to validate and create strategies around your market need, technology roadmap, intellectual property, and business
3. or b) Due Diligence
If we find you are ready for investment we can enter directly into a diligence process. We work together to understand your vision and work toward a partnership ideally resulting in a termsheet. This is a chance for you to see how WNT can add value and how we might work together in a partnership.
5. Investment Committee Presentation
All going well, you will be able to pitch to our investment committee (in-person or virtually). This is a chance for you to meet some of the wider WNT Network, receive additional feedback and guidance based on experience and expertise.
6. Documents and Lawyers
This is when the investment documents are prepared, and the lawyers get involved. We can also help you with this as we understand it can be painful. This is an important step as your foundation documents for your company are created to protect yourself as a founder and your investors, while also setting you up for future capital raises.
If you qualify for a repayable loan of $750k we talk with Callaghan Innovation, so you don't have to. We will also guide you through how this loan will protect your equity in your company.
Once we are all signed - you'll receive money in your company bank account.
Often we are the lead investors and we can organise syndicated rounds with investors in New Zealand or offshore.
Process for Academics
1. Reach Out
The process for coming out of a university or research institute is largely the same. We often look at early stage technology ideas even before there is a validated proof of concept. Reach out to your organisation's TTO or DRI office or commercialisation team, or just contact our team members directly and we can advise you around your next steps.
2. Follow up
We typically involve your university or research institute actively in this process, and it all depends on the ownership structures pre-agreed. We can sort this out for you.
3. R&D to commercialisation
We will stay in touch while you are developing your technology and co-ordinate with your research institution to begin commercialisation activities. We also run Deep Tech Market Validation workshops, specifically for academic founders. If we need to access specific subject matter expertise to validate and build out the investment proposition, we will often go through a pre-incubation process.
We do find companies at this stage more often go through our pre-incubation process - but not always. We will work with you to determine this.
5. Prepare for the investment committee
If there is an investible proposition and your lab-scale technology validation is successful, we will begin the due diligence phase to prepare you to present at our investment committee.
6. Documents and Lawyers
This step is basically the same with the addition of your research institute or university team being involved.
What future founders ask us.
See our investment process above.
Early Stage Startups
We typically invest in pre-revenue, or at most, early trial/beta revenue companies. This is an important aspect when applying for the Repayable Loan Funding from Callaghan Innovation
We will look at some Series A companies too.
Defensible Intellectual property
We like rich, defensible intellectual property or know how which can be protected by patent, trade secret, or ongoing investment. We believe that defensibility is the way to succeed in deep technology commercialisation.
Global Market opportunity
We support founders to move forward from garage to greatness. We seek to invest in companies that represent a global, scalable market opportunity
Deep technology means science-anchored, research-based innovations with strong defensibility. The opportunity must be unique, with a compelling competitive differentiation, and address a significant global market pain point.
We typically invest from pre-seed to Series A. It’s never too early to get in touch, even if it’s just to help you understand what you need to get investment ready. As an incubator, we are often looking at technologies at the idea or early proof of concept stage.
We consider ourselves generalist investors, and industries in which we invest include engineering, artificial intelligence, agritech and food, medtech, automation and sustainability, with a leaning towards products or services which can be seen, felt or touched.
We don’t invest into pure SAAS without intellectual property behind it (e.g. if it is AI/ML at its core) and we don't invest in pharmaceuticals or invasive medical devices.
No, we only invest in NZ companies, and any IP needs to be owned by a NZ entity where the investment is going (not a subsidiary).
It’s never too early to get in touch, as an early-stage investor we are often working with companies just at the idea stage or early proof of concept.
If you have meaningful sustainable revenue then you won’t be eligible for the Callaghan Innovation loan included in many WNT investments, but we may consider investing in other ways.
We pride ourselves on being high conviction investors. As such our ethos is for companies and founders to exit our assessment process stronger than when we met them.
This means we put emphasis on due diligence, so at the end of our process we believe the company has what it takes to be globally successful and have a greater understanding of what the company needs in its early stages.
With the greater technical risk that comes with deep-tech companies we believe that identifying future risks early on gives the company the best chance to succeed should they occur.
We customise our involvement to the needs and stage of you as a founder and your company. As a technology incubator one of our strengths is the ability for us to support our portfolio companies with whatever they need.
Our support can include building the right team, providing access to our networks, strategic direction, a strategy to protect your innovation, and governance.
Through the Callaghan Innovation Technology Incubator scheme WNT Ventures has access to a $35,000 grant that is used to help companies prepare for investment funding.
We want the Pre-Incubation funds to be spent on areas that are worthwhile, and often critical for startups, and help WNT make an assessment as to where the company is in its journey and what areas still need solving.
Typical activities undertaken through the pre-incubation grant include:
- Intellectual Property assessment and strategy
- Market validation
- Market sizing, channels, and competition
- Economic fundamentals and financial modelling
If we don’t go ahead with an investment, there is no requirement for these funds to be repaid. You can read more about it on our blog here
WNT’s core investment approach is partnership. We ensure there is a strong alignment of interest with our partners.
We develop a company strategy alongside the founders, recognising that it is likely to change along the way.
Typically, we do not charge for incubator services, unless we are being asked to do some of the operational heavy lifting. This can work well for your company as you get an expert working alongside you but do not need to hire a team member straight away.
WNT takes a flexible approach to deal structuring so we can provide a package of investment and support that works for each company.
We have a variety of connections both in NZ and overseas that we utilise when working with potential investments. We also share helpful resources and insights that we have developed over time depending on what the company needs are.
Get in touch it you’re interested and we can have a chat about what support you might need.
Our investment amounts vary depending on the need of the start-up. A typical cheque would be NZ $1M in the initial round but we can provide more if required. If we are investing without the Callaghan Repayable Loan then a cheque size could be $500k for the initial round.
Our capital comes from a WNT Fund, and as a co-investment from our WNT Investor group. We frequently syndicate with other investors and can assist with raising additional capital if needed.
If we are investing without Callaghan then a typical cheque size will be $500k for an initial round. In all investments we reserve funding for follow-on investment usually from our fund and/or directly from our investors.
The Callaghan loan needs to be matched 3:1 with WNTs own investment, the maximum being $750,000 with at least $250,000 from WNT.
It is an unsecured loan which means that Callaghan won’t ask for security (like your house with a mortgage). The interest rate on the loan is low and linked to the 10-year Bank Bill rate. Interest is accrued until your company earns revenue (excluding grants) and then begins to be repaid annually in arrears at 3% of revenue earned in that year.
Yes, WNT typically allow for follow on investment with our portfolio companies – both from our funds and from our wide investor base.
WNT also have connections with local and offshore investors depending on the company’s progress, sector and capital requirements.
Yes we do, depending on the raise amount. We prefer to be lead investors for an initial round but we have participated alongside others as well.
WNT is the most established technology Incubator in Aotearoa, with a decade of investing in New Zealand deep-tech.
Adding value to every interaction
Even if we don’t invest we aim to share feedback and direct founders to resources and connections that might improve the investibility of their opportunity alongside the work we actively put in to assessing an opportunity.
We work closely and partner with the founders of our portfolio companies where they need us. We support them to reach their milestones and connect them to relevant expertise and resources.
WNT as one of only four Callaghan Innovation Technology Incubators can give deep tech founders access to the Callaghan loan. This is up to $750,000 of non-dilutive capital.
We treat every interaction with founders in confidence, however we don’t sign NDAs just to find out what you are working on.
Once we start the diligence phase we can consider an NDA to enable us to review the technical side of your business.
We want to be a significant but minority investor, we don’t want majority position that means we are responsible for holding the reigns of the company. It's in everyones best interest that the founder/s retain a large enough stake so that future investment rounds won't dilute you.
Each company is different and we will negotiate an appropriate equity position like any investor would.
Your investment pitch will be different depending on the stage of your business and idea and is an area we can provide feedback on and support if we are looking at a full investment.
Typically, when you have your first intro to one of the internal team at WNT Ventures, you can pitch if you're ready or we can just talk through your idea. There is no pressure when you reach out to us.
If you don’t have a pitch deck, that’s okay, we’re used to talking with founders who aren’t at this stage. The purpose of the initial meeting is to have a discussion, allow us to ask questions we may have, and to start to build a relationship. We mainly want to hear about you, what you are working on and why it's going to be amazing.
You may at some point be asked to pitch to our Investment Committee. This will be 10-20 minutes plus an allocation for Q&A. We will guide you in the creation of this pitch if you need it. Pitching is a part of startup life, so we have awesome coaches on hand to help develop your skills before pitching to other investors.
That’s something you will need to answer for yourself. We encourage you to conduct your own diligence on us. Please ask us lots of questions!
Working with us on a pre-incubation or diligence process enables both sides to find out whether we want to partner together.
What our founders told us.
Last year we undertook an anonymous survey of our founders using an independent researcher to find out what they thought of us. Here's some of their feedback.