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22 February, 2016


“Without a thriving early stage ecosystem, New Zealand simply has no future”

Responding to the release this morning of the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund (NZVIF) Investment Report and suggestions the future of the Fund is in doubt, Marcel van den Assum, chairman of the Angel Association of New Zealand (AANZ), encouraged the government to stay the course.

“Building an early stage capital ecosystem and generating returns from the ventures receiving funding requires fortitude and commitment, and without a thriving early stage ecosystem, New Zealand simply has no future.”

Van den Assum, the 2015 Arch Angel award winner for his support and encouragement of Kiwi entrepreneurs, early stage companies and early stage investors, noted the government’s original concept was for a 25-year early stage investment programme.

It’s important the programme stays true to the original aim to build a strong and professional early stage venture capital community, he said. “It’s also important the Fund’s portfolio of ventures are managed to provide the best possible opportunity for the returns investors are looking for.”

Van den Assum said he is supportive of NZVIF taking a more active approach to managing what is a very valuable portfolio. In this respect and commenting on the Investment Report itself, van den Assum said it was still early days. The bulk of the Seed Co-investment portfolio had been generated in just the last two-to-three years.

The AANZ works closely with its members to raise awareness about the importance of portfolio management and how best to support their portfolio companies to achieve the sorts of returns expected for the higher levels of risk associated with earlier stage investing. NZVIF is a key support partner in sharing these risks and the associated rewards, he said.

And by any measures the leverage generated from the government’s investment through NZVIF to date was stunning, said van den Assum. “Putting $147 million in to generate $1.7 billion is impressive no matter how you look at it.”

And it’s not leverage just in financial terms, he added. “The country’s angel investors don’t just share the financial risk with the government, they bring substantial capability, experience and international connections to our young companies.”

Van den Assum said building and supporting early stage, high growth companies required ongoing commitment from government, professional services providers and investors. “No one group can do this alone. All partners and stakeholders need to commit fully and for the long term for us generate the socio-economic goals we are all seeking for the future of our country.”


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