Government's current approach to industry transformation is on a sector-by-sector basis. Whilst this makes sense due to the specific domain knowledge and networks relevant to each sector, early-stage startups in particular, have very similar needs whilst they're searching for 'product-market fit' before they scale up through to high-growth.
It's easy to think that startups fit under a small business portfolio, but the fact that startups operate so differently to small business still doesn't do their needs and differences justice, and only compounds the treatment of startups as smaller versions of big companies which they inherently are not.
Since there's no consistent definition of what a startup is across Government agencies, their specific needs and support required is never called out particularly well. This is not helped by successful technology companies which were once startups, still calling themselves startups to differentiate their culture from mainstream tech firms.
Thus goal 2, therefore, focusses on having a coordinated plan, specifically for the 'startup sector', which caters to companies pre-market fit before they become 'companies' and can more easily fit into traditional government support systems.
Whilst we've already done a lot to encourage the growth of the startup and innovation ecosystem in New Zealand, it is ultimately sub-scale, because New Zealand is sub-scale. Many in the startup community feel that we have reached the limits of our own efforts, existing primarily on sponsorship, sweat equity, and goodwill, and now risk cannibalizing each other's efforts without further top-down support and intevention.
Therefore, the Start NZ Up action plan consists of a number of intentionally high-level policy-level recommendations, which, if thoughtfully impemented, would have significant impact on the development of the startup and innovation ecosystem in New Zealand. The specific recommendations for this goal are presented below.
Create a cross-sector national government 'startup' agency to reduce fragmentation, thereby bringing national policy for entrepreneurship into one place and with a clearer focus on startups versus small-business. This also creates a focal point and priority for transforming us into a digital-led knowledge economy..
Whilst this isn't an exhaustive list of initiatives, any one of these, if thoughtfully implemented, could have significant impact on our entrepreneurial economy in NZ.
Some of our partners may have already started this work on the ground - view the list of those, or add your details to the list, below.
To create a more vibrant and entrepreneurial economy in New Zealand isn't just the job of one person or organisation, it will require the collective efforts of a team of 5 million people to play their part.
It is clear, however, that parts of this action plan requires policy change, and whilst that is a continuing conversation, it's useful to reflect on those people and organisations on the ground who are already doing this work.
If you're working towards one or more of these goals, please consider listing yourself or your organisation as a partner for the goals using the form below. Our current partners specifically working on this goal, are shown below.
We run the Momentum Programme: momentum.ac.nz
Momentum is a national student-led investment committee program which provides access to world class advice, connections, and investment opportunities to students and start-ups across New Zealand.
Our services include connecting technology and project teams with strategic management, top-tier advice and efficient access to capital.
We believe today’s students have the passion and urgency to innovate in ways that will positively impact on their own and future generations. The investment committees are formed with an experienced chair, tertiary students, and some longitudinally experienced investors and entrepreneurs. Each Momentum investment committee has a majority of student members. Investment committee members have highly diverse backgrounds, academic fields, and perspectives that they bring to bear when providing advice to presenting project teams. This allows the committees to provide advice and support to a wide range of start up technologies.
The committees refresh themselves every year, with "retiring" students choosing the next generation.
Return on Science (returnonscience.co.nz)- Return on Science is an open investment committee process which performs two important functions for the high tech start-up ecosystem. Firstly it provides specialised, international investment guidance and recommendation for both the Government's Pre-Seed Accelerator Fund and the University of Auckland Inventors Fund. The second function is that the specialised committee meetings are open and locked in time (e.g the Digital technologies committee is on the third Wednesday of every month. The price of entry is a one page CDA and attendance is available via Zoom as well as directly. We have attendees from many large funds and companies from around the world.
Contact: Will Charles
ZeroPoint Ventures is a local and international network of entrepreneurs, accelerator managers, and investors who partner with startups and growing companies to re-engineer their organisations for long-term, sustainable growth, and impact.
In 2020, we launched the Start NZ Up initiative, a top-down effort to affect proactive policy-change and support for entrepreneurs, specifically to put a focus on driving conversation at senior levels of Government to influence creation of a coordinated national entrepreneurship plan and identification of a 'startup sector', specifically through Goal 02.
Contact: Dan Khan
There are many of us already working on the ground towards creating a more vibrant and entrepreneurial economy in New Zealand. Whilst we contend that there's more support needed, it's useful to understand what others are already doing, what their impact has been so far, and how that impact could be amplified if we significantly change their access to resources.
If you're working towards one or more of these goals, please consider listing yourself or your organisation as a partner for the goals using the form below. The impact our current partners have had, specifically working on this goal, is shown below.
We have created and tested a Charter and refined our Principles, which are available publicly on our website. We are in the process of creating a very basic curriculum from our content that enables speakers and mentors to be more focused in their efforts when engaging with an individual or a group by setting "prerequisites" and/or knowing what level of understanding is already there in the audience.
Contact: Matt Sagen
Since 2016, we have launched committees in Auckland, Wellington, Dunedin and Christchurch and are launching the Manawatu Committee in August 2020.
To date 75 students have been involved for at least a year and over 90 student led projects have been reviewed. In addition all members have been provided with a number of "short training" presentations and workdays on Governance and Investment, Intellectual Property and so on. Most committees have at least three members who are participating in their own start-ups.
Contact: Will Charles
We're currently talking to senior Government policy makers, and pitching both a startup-focussed agency and looking for someone to 'own' entrepreneurship inside Government. There's a number of data and longitudinal studies that ZeroPoint Ventures has been invited to be part of. Further updates to follow.
Contact: Dan Khan
If you're already working towards some or all the ecosystem development goals, please consider listing your details below so we can link to you as a partner for those goals. Our overall aim is to collate a list of those working towards each goal in an effort to facilitate cross-collaboration, and to measure our collective impact in building a more vibrant startup and innovation ecosystem in New Zealand.