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Kiwi cannabis startup opens $20m funding round

Kiwi cannabis startup opens $20m funding round


New Zealand company Zeacann is today launching a private capital raise process to seek investment for up to $20m (to be invested over 3 years), so it can establish itself as a leader in the fast-growing global medicinal cannabis industry. This opportunity will only be available to wholesale investors. 1

The capital raise, which is being managed by PwC, will fund: the building of two cutting-edge hybrid greenhouses in Auckland, the cultivation of the first crop, fitting out extraction and quality control laboratories, the development of Zeacann’s online compliance portal, and research through its partnership with AUT.

“This is a very exciting time for the medicinal cannabis industry around the world,” Zeacann co-founder Chris Fowlie says.

“With Canada recently legalising cannabis, we’re in a perfect position in New Zealand to become a leader of medicinal cannabis manufacturing. Exporting to Canada will give us the scale to make cheaper products for Kiwi patients.”

The global market for medicinal cannabis is estimated to reach $30-85 billion by 2025 2 and New Zealand, complete with its clean green image, already has a reputation for being a top-quality grower of high-value crops such as such as food, wine and forestry.

Under current laws and when appropriately licensed, Zeacann will be able to begin production for research purposes and import medicinal products for distribution to health practitioners and pharmacists.

Following law changes next year, the business plans to begin growing cannabis for export and domestic medicinal use.

Zeacann will use market-leading hybrid greenhouses for year-round production while keeping costs lower than indoor manufacturers.

“Our research partnership with AUT will assist Zeacann’s aim to rapidly bring products to market and to develop novel formulations and dose delivery methods so we can help patients not currently well served by existing products,” Fowlie says.

Zeacann intends to create and support a non-profit foundation whereby compassionate pricing will be offered to those who cannot otherwise afford access to cannabis-based products.

Zeacann is also developing an online portal for health practitioners and pharmacists. The portal, which will be vendor-neutral within a “” branding, will streamline the prescription process for medicinal cannabis products Zeacann will distribute.

Zeacann's first range is to be called Satinol. is intended to be THC and CBD-rich oils and capsules, with further product ranges to be rolled out to cater to different markets and patient needs.

Ministry of Health figures 3 show cannabis-based products (CBPs) are used by one-in-twenty New Zealanders to manage their symptoms for wide variety of conditions including chronic pain, nausea, seizures, anxiety, and IBS.

In 2020, New Zealand is set to have a referendum on legalising adult recreational use of cannabis. If New Zealand follows the likes of Canada and California in legalising adult use, Zeacann’s potential market opportunity will be much larger than the medicinal market alone.

Fowlie is the founder of The Hempstore Aotearoa and has been a leading voice in cannabis law reform for the past two decades.

He is joined by co-founder Thom Hooker who has a corporate background, having founded tech startup SMX which has gone through several rounds of capital raising.

“We have put in place a business plan aiming to be New Zealand's preeminent cannabis producer. We are experienced, knowledgeable and ambitious, and have been in the industry for a long time,” Fowlie says.


1. “Wholesale investors” as defined in the Financial Markets Conduct Act 2013.
2. Grand View Research, see
3. See and

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