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Showcasing World-leading Kiwi Cleantech Innovation To Silicon Valley

Twelve Kiwi ventures are a step closer to securing partnerships and a slice of around NZ$80 billion invested every year in cleantech startups after returning from Cleantech Trek USA.

The globally ambitious Kiwi cleantech ventures connected with corporates and investors at networking events in Silicon Valley and at the 2024 Cleantech Forum North America, in San Diego, as part of a New Zealand Cleantech Mission led by Callaghan Innovation last month.

Cleantech Mission Lead Phil Anderson says the ventures, at various stages from pre-revenue to growth, are developing solutions to global challenges in areas like renewable energy, clean water, waste-to-value, carbon capture, fusion and carbon-free concrete.

“With the next wave of unicorns – start-ups valued at $1billion – likely to include plenty of companies addressing global issues like climate change and environmental degradation, there’s a huge economic opportunity for our globally focused Kiwi cleantech startups.

“Aotearoa New Zealand has a rich history of developing and piloting innovation before scaling offshore. With success stories including the likes of carbon recycling trailblazer Lanzatech, and the Kiwi cleantech founders who have attracted investment, including from the likes of IKEA and Khosla Ventures, we have some tangible momentum to lean into.

“At the New Zealand pitch and networking sessions it was clear that the corporates and investors gathered were impressed with the quality of the Kiwi innovators involved, and that this group of startups is, like those who have gone before, positioned for global acceleration.

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Phil Anderson says while the economic opportunity is great there are still challenges to overcome before more Kiwi cleantech startups can succeed in global markets.

“We have world-class people and technology but in many cases we just don’t have the market size or growth capital needed for our cleantech startups to reach their potential in global markets. That’s why it’s vital for founders to seek out international connections.

“For US-based entities it’s much easier to partner with or invest in local technologies and talent. They need to see something very special and believe strongly in a founding team before wanting to work with a Kiwi cleantech venture.

Phil Anderson says having a number of capable and passionate female founders there was a highlight, as was supporting ventures from across the motu, including those from Auckland, Tauranga, Rotorua, Taupo, Wellington, Christchurch and Southland.

“Having representation from our local deep tech venture capital funds Outset Ventures, Pacific Channel and Quidnet Ventures showed offshore investors the potential for strong local VC partnerships,” he says.

Nilo CEO Glen Willoughby says there was, "huge value for us because we have just opened our series A capital raise. We met with all the strategic investors we wanted to connect with and others we weren't aware of as well. We also had some excellent strategic conversations at the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability and with US-based Kiwi cleantech founders.”

Bspkl CEO Christina Houlihan says, “The journey in the US has been nothing short of amazing, providing valuable connections with inspiring individuals and uncovering insightful stories. The wealth of knowledge gained about navigating investment pitches in the USA has been invaluable. I’m grateful for the opportunities and excited about what lies ahead.”

Cetogenix CEO Trevor Stuthridge says the Cleantech Trek was “an incredibly valuable enabler for international outreach and ecosystem engagement. Cetogenix was privileged to participate and proud to be in such inspiring company.”

New Zealand Climate Tech For the World, a Cleantech Group report commissioned by Callaghan Innovation, found that New Zealand cleantech innovators raised 95% less investment than those in small advanced economies on average between 2011 and 2021.

Recent data showing a big increase in New Zealand cleantech investment in 2023, with venture and growth investment worth over $NZ390 million compared to around NZ$80 million in 2022, shows the sector is heading in the right direction, says Phil Anderson.

New Zealand Climate Tech For the World recommended that this country take a co-ordinated approach to supporting cleantech innovators with global ambitions.

“Cleantech Trek USA is an example of efficient and aligned collaboration from across Aotearoa New Zealand’s agencies to support participating ventures.

“Callaghan Innovation would like to thank Cleantech Mission partners, including NZTE, Auckland Unlimited, Are Ake, and Uniservices for their incredible support and expertise.

“Building the profile of the New Zealand cleantech startup ecosystem is a marathon, not a sprint. We look forward to working with our cleantech ventures and our partners going forward,” says Phil Anderson.

CleantechTrek USA

Aspiring Materials: Carbon Capture

Creating materials to cut down global industrial CO2 emissions.

Bspkl: Hydrogen Innovation

Developing catalyst-coated membrane solutions to overcome catalyst supply challenges and manufacturing bottlenecks.

Cetogenix: Waste to Value

Delivering a climate tech platform that unlocks the hidden potential for organic waste-to-renewables value addition through proprietary deconstruction, separation and fermentation.

EnPot: Energy Efficiency

Technology to enable smelters to flex their power usage creating a virtual battery, supporting the adoption of renewable energy.

Geo40: Sustainable Mineral Recovery

Enabling critical minerals such as lithium and silica to be extracted from underground fluids at scale.

Hydroxsys: Water Treatment

Solving wastewater and sustainability challenges for food and industrial processors, using new membrane filtration technology.

Neocrete: Decarbonising Concrete

Neocrete replaces cement with nano-activated volcanic ash, creating low-carbon, high-performing concrete, at no extra cost.

Nilo: Waste to value

Transforming plastic waste into high-value industrial products, with a current focus on wood panel board adhesives and eco-concrete.

Openstar Technologies: Fusion Energy

On a mission to deliver clean, abundant, and available fusion energy to the world.

Sleaktek Biopolymer

Sleak™ is a completely natural 100% plant derived hot melt compound used to make adhesives, sealants and plastic film substitutes.

Vortex Power Systems: Waste to value

Using low grade waste heat recovered from thermal processes in industry, Vortex Power Systems technology generates and controls a freestanding atmospheric buoyancy vortex, and harnesses its power using a vortex turbine to create clean electricity.

Zincovery: Waste to Value

Low temperature reactor technology to convert zinc ferrite compounds into any form so it can be recycled.

Find out more about CleanTech Trek USA ventures.

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