Pitch on a Peak – NZ tech investments

Pitch on a Peak – NZ tech investments

New Zealand hosted a major event in the technology investment world this month, with the Asian Business Angels Forum 2015 taking place in Queenstown (October 14-16). The forum drew over 150 angel investors from around the world. A centrepiece was ‘Pitch on a Peak’ – a showcase of NZ tech investment opportunities ranging from early stage technologies to companies seeking first round angel funding and internationalising companies. The MacDiarmid Institute was very strongly represented, contributing five of the fifteen projects being pitched – mostly early stage, and interestingly, all in biotechnology or medical areas. Each of the MacDiarmid Institute pitches benefitted from extensive input from Ray Thomson and Richard Pinfold, as well as NZ Trade and Enterprise and Callaghan Innovation. As described below by the people who pitched each of these enterprises, the pitches were received very enthusiastically and generated many exciting new leads. We look forward to seeing the commercial success of these projects in the future and thank all involved for their great work – watch this space! BioActive Silver Pitched by: Dr Carla Meledandri Co-inventors: Dr Carla Meledandri and Dr Don Schwass, UoO Bioactive silver Nanosilver has been developed as a platform technology to be applied in dentistry. Bioactive materials can be produced in a variety of formats (colloidal, gel or solid filling material) to address a series of dental problems including tooth decay, peri-implantitis and periodontal disease. The nanosilver-containing materials are designed to provide ongoing and persistent antimicrobial protection for patients without the tooth staining effects that current products display. There is a clear channel to market for these products through existing distribution companies who already sell to dentists, the end users of this technology. Through Pitch on a Peak, our team was seeking introductions to strategic partners or investors such as multinational healthcare companies, as well funding to get to product versions to market. Our presentation was well-received, and our team is now following up with the new contacts we made. Auramer Bio Pitched by: Jeremy Jones Co-inventors: Dr Justin Hodgkiss, Prof. Ken McNatty, Dr Shalen Kumar, Dr Omar Alsager (VUW), Prof. Jadranka Travas-Sejdic (UoA) Auramer bio Auramer Bio is a new medical diagnostics start-up company out of VUW. The technology the company is built on was the product of a collaboration between the VUW Schools of Biological sciences and Chemical and Physical Sciences and the school of Chemical Sciences at the University of Auckland. The company was set up by Viclink with investment from Powerhouse ventures to commercialise Aptasensors for monitoring human health. Prof Ken McNatty and Dr Shalen Kumar have developed very efficient processes for generating industry leading aptamers that Dr Justin Hodgkiss’ and Dr Jadranka Travas-Sejdic’s teams have integrated into a suite of highly sensitive colorimetric and electrochemical sensors. The team have already demonstrated the performance of these sensors to measure hormones in urine down to levels not previously possible. This company is a great example of the outcomes institute collaborations across multiple organisations can create. CEO Jeremy Jones pitched the company. The investors were all very supportive and eager to provide advice to all of the companies pitching. The highlight of the event was discussing our technology with Allan May, a life sciences investor who has worked with over 50 biotech and med-tech start-up companies. The experiences and advice he shared was invaluable helping to guide our strategies around our target markets. In some cases our conversations on the night have also led to potential commercial projects and new opportunities for Auramer to chase. The team are very excited by the level of interest the company got at the event and we’re very much looking forward to driving this momentum home to commercial success.   Milk-on-a-Disk and Engender Technologies Pitched by: Assoc. Prof. Cather Simpson Inventors: Assoc. Prof. Cather Simpson (Milk-on-a-Disk & Engender), Prof. David Williams (Milk-on-a-disk) (UoA) Milk on a disk “Imagine you’re a dairy farmer, and you want to improve your herd.” It’s harder to imagine you’re a laser scientist and those words form the start of one of your talks! They did, though, when I spoke at Pitch on a Peak in Queenstown this October. I had 3 minutes to pitch an idea that David Williams and I are developing to a room full of angel investors from all over the world. We were hoping to find some strong connections (and maybe some funding) to commercialise our new platform technology. Milk-on-a-Disk helps smart farmers make their dairy cows more productive by providing them with detailed data about the content of each cow’s milk at each milking – with no additional fuss. Milk-on-a-Disk certainly seemed to resonate with many of the investors – scads of business cards changed hands, and we were inundated with follow-up chats for the rest of the evening! Several of these have resulted in visits to the Photon Factory, and some interesting coffee-fueled conversations about how to accelerate Milk-on-a-Disk. It’s safe to say that Pitch on a Peak has already been a great success in getting us more connected to the right people to commercialise this idea. Milk-on-a-Disk is still too early stage for most investors, however it’s looking like we may have some success there too – watch this space! I also pitched Engender Technologies in Queenstown, though in a different category from Milk-on-a-Disk: as an “Early Stage” company. Engender is a Photon Factory spin-out company that sorts sperm by sex for the agriculture sector. It does this using a combination of microfluidics and photonics. The pitch for Engender was quite different, because it was tag-team with the CEO of the company (who does the money bits), so I only had a couple of slides to introduce the technology. Engender is at a very different stage of commercialisation than Milk-on-a-Disk. We are at the end of a major investment campaign, to get us very close to manufacturing and selling product (or the company). We’ve loads of NZ and global investors already on board. Of course we can’t say much until the ink is dry on the commitments, but Pitch on a Peak helped put us on track to surpass our minimum fund raising target, and make us quite confident that we will close soon on an overall value of several million dollars. Pitch on a Peak was one of the most exciting events I’ve ever attended. David and I were exhausted at the end of this 8 hour investment extravaganza! Tired but happy, because we left with much clearer (and friendlier) paths to moving our research ideas out into the economy – wins for us, and for New Zealand’s dairy and high-tech manufacturing sectors.   Medical Dosimeters Pitched by: Dr Grant Williams Inventors: Dr Grant Williams (VUW) The pitch focussed on a point dosimeter for radiotherapy applications. It is being developed to ensure that the medical linear accelerators that emit high energy x-rays to treat cancer deliver the right dose and thereby help to ensure effective treatment and minimize damage to nearly sensitive tissue. This quality assurance is done before treatment of the patient. We have patents on the materials and the device. While we are focusing on medical linear accelerator applications there are also other needs that include brachytherapy where a radioactive source is placed inside the patient to treat cancer. Our latest prototype was displayed in our booth during the event. With funding from MBIE, we are working with medical physicists at Wellington Hospital and the team includes people from Callaghan Innovation, i2M Labs, and GNS Science. Pitch on a Peak Event Highlights – Investor Focus

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *