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Done Deal: Recent fundings secured, contracts inked and deals done and/or did, for the tl;dr crowd

Our regular roundup of recent deals done and/or did.

Invivo has raised over $1 million from existing investors, and the offer is now open to new investors on Snowball Effect. 

Invivo exports to 17 countries, having grown sales from $3.6 million in 2015 to an expected $13.9 million in this financial year. Every investment in this round will receive a one-off wine reward of a six-pack of Invivo wines delivered to a New Zealand address.

Weirdly, a recruiting software that assesses fit between candidates and companies, is looking across the Tasman for their next phase of growth.

“We’ve been seeing a huge spike in approaches from big Australian companies over the past year so it’s a natural step to establish a base there” says Weirdly CEO and co-founder Dale Clareburt. “There’s a real appetite for tools like ours that help these big companies manage the huge volume of applications they get and make the application experience a lot nicer for candidates”

The new Australian presence, based in Sydney, will be headed up by Sascha Gray. With deep experience in HR Technology, Sascha’s an employment industry mainstay who previously led the growth of Hired, Inc in the APAC region.

Clareburt says that niche experience was exactly what Weirdly was looking for in their new VP of Sales. She’s an HR Tech expert, which is supported by a real understanding of recruiters’ needs and day-to-day frustrations. “We’re chuffed to get someone of Sascha’s ability and experience on board. She’s exactly the right person to help grow Weirdly’s presence in the Australian market”.

With Gray leading growth for Australia, Clareburt continues to increase Weirdly’s presence in the US while the product development continues in New Zealand.

Weirdly's Dale Clareburt.

Regenerative tissue developer Upside Biotechnologies has raised $2 million in a convertible note offer to progress the commercialisation of its technology. 

Auckland-based Upside is developing an advanced, skin replacement treatment for patients suffering major burns. Earlier this year, US-based Medical Technology Enterprise Consortium (MTEC) awarded a US$300,000 research grant to Upside.

Upside’s technology enables a small sample of unburnt patient skin to be grown in the laboratory into large areas of full thickness skin. This lab-grown skin can be used as skin grafts in patients with major burns who do not have enough uninjured skin to provide conventional skin grafts.

Upside skin is produced faster than any competitive product in development. It is supplied in larger sheets with excellent handling characteristics preferred by burns surgeons. “I am thrilled that existing investors have supported the company so strongly. In addition to funds from existing investors, we have received investment from new investors who had previously expressed an interest in Upside Biotechnologies. The additional $2 million capital puts the company in a very strong position as it continues to develop its treatment for large burns,” comments Upside’s chief executive officer Dr Robert Feldman.

Dr Feldman says Upside has made excellent progress since its last raise of $2.3 million in March 2017. The product has moved from an academic project to a commercial one.

“We have locked down most of the processes required to produce our engineered skin product, PelliCel.”

Qualmark New Zealand has appointed Gregg Anderson as its new general manager.

Anderson has worked with Qualmark New Zealand since 2016 as a Tourism Business Advisor conducting assessments of New Zealand accommodation and activity providers.

Following the resignation of former general manager Cameron Lawrence in March, Anderson took over management of key stakeholder relationships within the accommodation and inbound tour operator sectors during the Qualmark evaluation criteria revision.

Anderson began his career at New Zealand Post, where he held product management and strategic development roles before joining Tourism New Zealand in 1994 as global marketing coordinator.

“We are delighted to announced Gregg as our new general manager. He is highly regarded in the industry for his strategic marketing nous, business acumen, and passion for sustainable tourism. He has been a true asset to the team as a Tourism Business Advisor and we look forward to the future evolution of Qualmark with Gregg at the helm,” says Sue Parcell, Qualmark director and Tourism New Zealand’s chief financial officer.

Anderson begins his new role as general manager on July 2.

Gregg Anderson.

Bridget Lamont is joining Loyalty New Zealand as chief marketing officer (CMO), a new role reporting to CEO, Lizzy Ryley.  

Lamont joins Loyalty NZ after a successful 13-year career with Progressive Enterprises where she held a variety of roles in marketing, loyalty, data-driven communications, brand strategy and customer insights. Lamont led the Countdown marketing team as general manager marketing from October 2011, driving the relaunch of the Onecard loyalty programme in partnership with AA Smartfuel in 2016.

Ryley says: “We are hugely fortunate to have someone of Bridget's calibre joining us. Bridget has been instrumental in some of the most significant changes in loyalty in New Zealand. Her depth of experience and understanding of the pace and demands of both retail and services businesses, which is important to many of our coalition partners, as well as her strategic leadership, will be a key asset to Loyalty NZ as we move forward.” 

Lamont is excited to be joining the Loyalty NZ team and describes the role as the ideal blend of loyalty programme management, data-driven marketing and purpose-led brand building. “I have been involved in, and worked with, loyalty programmes and customer data most of my career and it is thrilling to have the opportunity to join New Zealand’s pre-eminent loyalty coalition and help drive business value for the coalition and their customers. I can’t wait to be part of the team that sets out to delight New Zealanders every day through the Fly Buys programme!"  

Lamont will commence with Loyalty NZ in late June.

Bridget Lamont.

Professor Cheryl de la Rey, currently the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Pretoria, has been appointed as the new Vice-Chancellor of the University of Canterbury.

Professor de la Rey will commence the role in mid-February 2019, replacing Dr Rod Carr, who has served two five year terms.

University of Canterbury Chancellor Dr John Wood said the University had undertaken a global recruitment process and had been thrilled with the calibre of a large pool of domestic and international applicants. The Vice-Chancellor Appointment Committee, led by Pro-Chancellor Sue McCormack, made a recommendation to appoint Professor de la Rey at a public-excluded University Council meeting on May 21, which was accepted unanimously.

“Professor de la Rey is an exceptional candidate to lead the University. She has a significant international profile and a strong research reputation in her chosen field of psychology, and in research leadership and governance. She also brings extensive experience and demonstrated management ability from a range of tertiary education roles in South Africa, which I know she is looking forward to bringing to New Zealand.

“She is known as a visionary strategic thinker and has a track record for opening University pathways to priority and other learners. Her overall approach is a very good fit with the graduate attributes the University seeks to instil in all its students.

“Professor de la Rey will begin at UC with the University’s post-quake transformation well advanced, its extensive capital works programme almost complete, world-class redeveloped and new facilities open for teaching, initiatives to build student numbers beyond pre-quake levels well in hand, and the University community very much focused on providing what it always has – world-class research-led teaching and learning,” Dr Wood said.

“I’m honoured to be selected for this position and thank the University of Canterbury Council for its vote of confidence. I look forward to using my skills and experience and to build on the good work of my predecessor,” Professor de la Rey said.  

Dr Wood said outgoing Vice-Chancellor Dr Carr had made an immense contribution to the University since first taking the role in 2009.

“We couldn’t have known at the time but, post-quake, having a Vice-Chancellor with Rod’s particular expertise in business, finance and risk has been invaluable in leading the University through the most challenging time in its history. His leadership of its recovery, transformation and contribution to the University’s future success cannot be overstated.”

Professor Cheryl de la Rey. Photo credit: University of Pretoria.

New Zealand-based digital agency NV Interactive has just been recognised in this year’s Microsoft Worldwide Partner of the Year Awards.

In a record seventh showing in the global awards, the agency was recognised as a finalist in the highly competitive Media & Communications category for its latest project for the BBC in the UK. 

The Microsoft Worldwide Partner of the Year Awards recognize Microsoft partners that have developed & delivered exceptional Microsoft-based solutions during the past year, and garnered over 2,600 entrants from 115 countries.

NV’s recognition was for a highly acclaimed cross-platform mobile app for BBC Good Food. Good Food is the biggest food brand in Europe with over 22m users accessing its extensive collection of 12,000 curated recipes every month.

This year’s gong means NV has now won three global partner awards and been named finalist in a further four, after registering two worldwide spots in 2017.  It also comes on the back of a recent Silver in the British Media Awards for the same BBC app.

“We’re absolutely delighted to again be globally recognised by Microsoft for our work, and proud to be representing New Zealand on the world stage,” says NV’s managing director, Matt Pickering. “It’s a real validation of our user-centric, design-led approach to large-scale technology projects.

“Validation on the world stage like this has been game-changing for our business. We’ve been able to leverage our consistent recognition in the global level to build out an enviable roster of amazing clients including Time Inc, USA Today, English Cricket, and obviously BBC.  And we get to bring this global experience to our awesome New Zealand clients”

This award comes in a big week for the agency, who was also named as five times finalists in the Microsoft New Zealand Partner Awards, the second largest haul of all partners.

The global awards will be celebrated at the Microsoft Inspire conference in Las Vegas next month, and the local winners will be announced in Auckland next week.

New Zealand-owned animal health company, Argenta has lent its world-class expertise in the area of antiparisitics to an important new treatment for river blindness, a debilitating eye and skin disease affecting an estimated 16 million African people.

Argenta has collaborated with Medicines Development for Global Health (MDGH), a not-for-profit Australian biopharmaceutical company, to gain US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approval to adapt a veterinary drug known as moxidectin as an innovative treatment for the disease.

Moxidectin is the first new FDA-approved treatment for river blindness in the last 20 years, and will be manufactured in Argenta's US facility and supplied to populations in need in sub-Saharan Africa by Medicines Development via various philanthropic agencies.

Dr Doug Cleverly, Argenta’s CEO, says: “Our remoteness in New Zealand from Sub-Saharan Africa makes it hard to fathom the impact of this debilitating disease, which has seen scores of people abandon the fertile land where river blindness is endemic. As a company, we are dedicated to animal health, but this is a special human cause that allows us to use our expertise in the animal field in another area. The skillset Argenta has honed in the area of antiparasitics aligned the business very well to this challenge. And challenges such as these encourage our inventive nature and if we can succeed in reaching those in need, the improved health potentials are huge.”

The drug approval follows a notification by the FDA to MDGH in December 2017 that the new drug application had qualified for a Priority Review (which expedites the new drug application process from 10 months to six months). Because river blindness is nominated by the FDA as a neglected disease, MDGH will also receive a transferable voucher that can be used or sold for priority review of another drug.

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