Callaghan Innovation is now inviting applications from parties interested in being appointed founder-focused or technology-focused incubators.
Adding to the current breed of founder-focused incubators willl be a new type of technology-focused incubator - a privately owned business focused on the commercialisation of IP primarily sourced from publicly funded research organisations, such as universities and Crown research institutes.
They will be also able to access a new repayable grants programme on behalf of the startups they incubate. Under the programme, the Government will contribute up to $450,000 over two years to eligible companies resident in technology-focused incubators. The incubator owners will need to provide at least $150,000 themselves additionally in order to qualify for the full amount. This pilot repayable grants programme has been allocated $31.3m over four years.
Steve Corbett, chief executive of Massey University's ecentre, says a lack of commercialisable IP coming out of universities and research institutes is an issue.
"From an NZ Inc perspective, this scheme could have real potential if it can bring more technology out of the universities and CRIs. Putting that incentive system in place up front, which takes more of the risk at the early stage, is a good way to do it.
"If you can maintain that entrepreneurial spirit of the founder-centric model and get that same spirit in to tech-centric ones, then I think we're really starting to see some potential."
The RFP documents, with all the details of the new scheme, can be downloaded from the GETS website by searching for reference code 41753.
Organisations applying for either founder-focused and technology incubator status have until April 23 to do so. Successful proposals are likely to be announced in late May or early June.
The RFP issued this week follows consultation with the New Zealand startup support community, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund, and international experts including Israel’s leading thinker on technology incubators, Oren Gershtein.
“New Zealand has not been creating enough high value companies,” says Callaghan Innovation GM of accelerator services Chris Somogyi. “The modified Incubator Support Programme and the new Repayable Grants Programme that comes with it were designed to address this shortcoming and will remove much of the risk currently preventing the private sector from investing in early-stage, IP-rich startups.”
“The creation of the new tech incubators is a significant step within the New Zealand innovation system. The work they will do will provide a more targeted and sophisticated approach to increasing the rate of formation and success of early-stage start-up firms. This, in turn, will support the growth of emerging sectors and technologies and foster entrepreneurship.”