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Grow Wellington welcomes Powerhouse Ventures to the region

Grow Wellington welcomes Powerhouse Ventures to the region

Early stage technology investment firm Powerhouse Ventures is teaming up with Kerasi Limited in Wellington this month to continue helping turn science-based research in the region into commercial reality.

Powerhouse, which was established in Christchurch in 2006, is merging with Kerasi, a commercialisation company based at the Gracefield innovation precinct in Lower Hutt. Kerasi, established in 2008, has worked successfully with universities and Crown Research Institutes (CRIs) in the area to help commercialise their intellectual property.

“This is great news for the region,” says Gerard Quinn, chief executive of Grow Wellington, the region’s economic development agency.

“Powerhouse has been a pioneer in New Zealand, driving investment in research-backed technology through its university partnerships, its use of annual seed funds and an incubation programme to grow international businesses.

“Powerhouse is well known, well respected and a very successful group of early-stage technology investors.”

Mr Quinn says Powerhouse is coming to Wellington because the region has a depth of early- and middle-stage scientific research capability.

“The Wellington region is host to three Crown Research Institutes as well as Crown agency Callaghan Innovation that aims to accelerate the commercialisation of innovation. What’s more, our universities and polytechnics are conducting cutting edge research. Victoria University, for example, ranks first or second in New Zealand for research in every science field at the university.”

Powerhouse uses private and public investment to develop new spin-out ventures sourced primarily from research partners such as universities and CRIs.

Melissa Yiannoutsos, Managing Director from Kerasi, says, “This merger brings science commercialisation and investment expertise of our two companies together to support the wider Wellington region. Merging with Powerhouse significantly expands our capability and provides access to capital from a company with a long track record in technology investment.”

Powerhouse has a portfolio of 15 active investments; these include a company making robots which inspect industrial surfaces such as food storage silos, a business designing and building small hydropower turbines and a tool for the agriculture industry to monitor field production and plan for harvest and processing.

Powerhouse CEO Dr Stephen Hampson sees the enormous potential of combining the groundbreaking technology being developed in the region with Powerhouse’s investment capabilities and early-stage technology business expertise.

"We are delighted that Powerhouse now has a presence in Wellington. The Kerasi team has tremendous ability and experience that complements Powerhouse's existing expertise right across New Zealand,” says Dr Hampson.

“Bringing our proven investment model directly to the Lower North Island will enable generators of research-backed technology to see their work turned into growing businesses with access to both capital and highly focused commercial and technical expertise. Together we are looking forward to an exciting time working in and around Wellington."

Stefan Korn, CEO of startup incubator Creative HQ, says that science commercialisation in the region will go from strength to strength with Powerhouse and Kerasi combining their considerable expertise to this area.

“It’s a win-win for Wellington and Creative HQ will support the firm by ensuring their services are connected to the local startup ecosystem.

“Powerhouse is well placed to invest in research and intellectual property from research institutions here, which leaves Creative HQ to focus on boosting tech startups,” says Mr Korn.

Creative HQ founded New Zealand’s first digital startup accelerator programme, the Lightning Lab, in 2012 – raising $3 million from the equity market following an intensive 12-week programme.


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