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Xero, Next Window, Open Cloud big winners in tech grants

Xero, Next Window, Open Cloud big winners in high-tech grants

By Pattrick Smellie

Aug 15 (BusinessDesk) – Xero Ltd., the New Zealand online accounting software entrepreneur, is the big NZX-listed company beneficiary, taking $4.04 million of $50 million of funding announced under the government’s Technology Grants Scheme.

The largest single grant went to the Auckland-based laptop touch-screen technology pioneer Next Window, recently purchased by Canadian investors Smart Technologies, which will receive $5.931 million.

The scheme requires private companies to provide 80% of the funding for research and development of high value new goods and services, while the grant scheme puts in 20%.

Some 19 businesses across the agriculture, high value manufacturing, information technology and services sector gained grants, the largest a $5 million boost for Ancare Scientific Ltd., an Auckland-based animal health products firm.

Recipients by sector were:

* Agriculture: Ancare Scientific ($5million), animal welfare products developer Argenta ($4.682 million), sheep and cattle geneticists Rissington Breedline ($661,165), lab test developers RJ Hill Laboratories ($1.377 million),;

* High value manufacturing: electronic measurement and control device maker Actronic ($1.902 million), motor control centres designer AuCom Electronics ($2.356 million), fruit-sorting machine-maker BBC Technologies ($741,704), Auckland and Boston-based electro-magnet specialists Buckley Systems ($3.5 million), marine and aviation electronics manufacturer Nautech Electronics ($532,253), Canadian-owned Auckland touch-screen pioneer Next Window ($5.932 million), hygienic bulk dry powder packaging system maker Technopak ($729,791);

* IT/services: Agility CIS, which develops customer management systems for utilities ($300,000), Atlantis Healthcare Group ($1.947 million), software developers Core Technology ($629,400), network management system developer for small businesses and branch offices, Mako Networks ($4.321 million), the Wellington-based real-time telecommunications application server company Open Cloud ($2.395 million), data warehouse planners Wherescape ($650,000), and Xero ($4.04 million).

* Also receiving a grant of $1.15 million were energy efficient lightbulb resellers Energy Mad.

The first round of grants totalled $92.6 million and was announced last December.

Prime Minister John Key said the policy required a serious commitment from the companies that received assistance, because they had to put up 80% of the R&D costs they’d identified.

The policy, which will give a $321 million innovation funding boost over four years, was less expensive than Labour’s proposal to reintroduce research and development tax credits at a cost of around $800 million a year, and allowing many businesses to write off normal operating expenditure as R&D.


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