New Zealand private equity fund Endeavour Capital is teaming with Crown-owned science agency Industrial Research Ltd. to build a bridgehead in Florida for high-value manufacturing opportunities based, at least in part, on New Zealand science and innovation.
Chaired by Neville Jordan, who led the government’s review of the Crown Research Institutes, Endeavour announced it has secured $20 million of investment funding through a Florida state government scheme to encourage the creation of high value advanced science jobs.
The deal will also involve research contracts for New Zealand-based scientists, and IRL is “closely examining” whether to open an office alongside Endeavour in the Jupiter/Palm Beach area, north of Miami, where Florida campuses of Johns Hopkins University, the Scripps Institute, and the Max Planck Institute are located.
“We have an undertaking to take intellectual property or companies into the state,” Jordan told BusinessDesk.
“In the reverse direction, they have said that if we then put research contracts into New Zealand, they give that a big tick too.”
Jordan hopes the New Zealand government will consider a local version of the scheme, which involves an element of reciprocal exchange and targets “graduate-style employment” because such jobs generate disproportionately large numbers of other jobs.
It was a struggle to commercialise New Zealand’s best intellectual property without being “embedded in targeted offshore markets”, he said. For Endeavour’s New Zealand investments in areas like non-invasive diabetes detection, water efficiency systems, anti-cancer compounds and advanced manufacturing and ICT systems, “the ability to engage with such world-leading research and development teams will be invaluable.”
Endeavour is pursuing the strategy globally. Last month, it established a $120 million investment partnership between the Chinese state of Wuhan’s venture capital corporation, HUSTVC, and in April it signed a collaborative research agreement with Saudi Arabia’s King Faisal Specialist Hosptial and Research Centre.
A European initiative would be announced shortly, Jordan said.
IRL’s consideration of a Florida office comes as Science and Innovation Minister Wayne Mapp weighs recommendations from a review of high value manufacturing strategy, with The University of Auckland lobbying strongly that it is a logical owner for IRL and would headquarter the Wellington-based CRI on one of its Auckland campuses.
In April this year, Endeavour also signed an agreement with Saudi Arabia’s King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre, for collaborative research projects within Endeavour’s investment portfolio. A first large-scale alliance covering products and systems for forensics, clinical diagnostics and food security has already commenced.