The final piece of the puzzle, is how to stimulate more corporates to start looking to our startup ecosystem. Whether that's for inspiration and collaboration for their own R&D efforts, or to see it as a huge resource of entrepreneurial talent ready and waiting for partnerships to develop new products and services a year or two ahead of where they are now.
Looking at startups who have exited to large companies offshore, this is exactly what happens in more mature technology ecosystems — when a large corporate is looking to diversify into adjacent markets are they going to build from scratch or just acquire the technology, team, or IP of the already emerging leader in that space?
But this isn't happening at scale in New Zealand yet. If we could work out how to get big corporates like Spark and Fonterra to seriously play in the innovation ecosystem, the knock-on benefits to the startup ecosystem in New Zealand would be huge. Startups would no longer be forced offshore to seek scale, venture capital, and exit pathways, meaning NZ can directly reap the benefits of local entrepreneurial innovation rather than taking it offshore.
If we can engineer that virtuous circle locally, so that both corporate and ‘community' entrepreneurs are solving the problems of our biggest local companies, or our most pressing national social, environmental, or economic problems, then not only do we create a corporate venture capital and acquisition pathway for those companies - they never have to leave this market, thereby keeping the talent, capital, IP, and mentorship for future generations within New Zealand.
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.
Increase the R&D tax-credit for large companies who work with smaller, strategically-aligned startups to support those R&D activities, thereby intentionally providing positive incentives for growing our local startup economy. (Stimulate).
Fund EDAs to better help their largest companies showcase their innovation domains, challenges, and opportunities to the startup community, to create a better bridge for strategically-aligned innovation partnerships. (Facilitate)
Provide an increased R&D tax-credit for large companies who create structured startup partnership programmes to offset those costs - provide central access to education, global mentors and experts, and matched co-investment in those startup programmes. This would not only incentivise more corporates to support localised innovation efforts, it also provides an additional funding pathway for startups solving strategically-aligned local challenges. (Participate)
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 need collaboration from corporates, technology platforms, vendors, service providers, universities to invest in private sector initiatives to accelerate AI development and grow the AI economy in NZ. Through more AI development we grow the entire TECH and innovation sector
Contact: Justin Flitter
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.
We developed our 0.Corporate arm with a goal to changing the DNA of large companies to allow them to grow at startup speed - including smartly partnering with the wider startup community and building ventures-as-a-service.
Over recent years through these partnerships and our own efforts, we've actively led thought bringing startup-thinking, high-growth innovation models, and corporate entrepreneurship into large corporates in New Zealand; designing innovation programmes and venturing strategy for some of New Zealand’s largest companies including Fonterra, Spark Ventures, NZ Post, and Kiwibank.
In 2020, we launched the Start NZ Up initiative, a top-down effort to affect proactive policy-change and support to foster greater innovation collaboration between the startup sector and our biggest companies, specifically through Goal 08.
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've only just started this journey over the last few years, and so far, have coached over 200 senior leaders on how to build entrepreneurial systems and culture at scale. Our work with academic institutions hopes to bring entrepreneurial process and method to over 40,000 staff, students, and academics, and our work with digital strategy and entrepreneurship programmes is planned to rollout to students in over 85% of schools over the next year.
Alongside that, we're in early-stage discussions with MBIE, Callaghan Innovation, and NZTE on the recommendations related to these goals.
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.