It’s great to see that the new WNT Ventures portal is now live. You can view it at www.wntventures.co.nz

The launch comes towards the end of a fascinating first full year of operation. As a member of both the WNT Ventures General Partner Board and its Investment Committee, it has opened my eyes to some of the amazing research, IP and commercialisation opportunities that New Zealand Universities and Crown Research Institutes are generating.

The executive team, led by Carl Jones, has done a great job connecting with key players across both sectors. The quality of deal flow is high and the prospects for building high growth global technology businesses is even higher.

For the Bay of Plenty, WNT Ventures has had a profound and very positive effect on the region’s rapidly expanding innovation ecosystem. From the outset, the intention was to build a model based on collaboration between the region’s leading innovation hubs, investor networks and strategic regional economic development partners. My view is that collectively, we have totally nailed that ambition. Today, WNT Ventures is engaging with individuals and businesses across the region as we begin to build on this long term potential.

The Bay of Plenty, New Zealand: Home to WNT Ventures

The Bay of Plenty, New Zealand: Home to WNT Ventures

In Silicon Valley, I talk quite a bit about the WNT Ventures ‘effect’. Whilst it doesn’t mirror the scale or history of the Valley, it does have some important similarities. The key is collaboration. In the Valley, it is the combination of universities/research institutes, entrepreneurs, investors, mentors, major technology companies, corporate partners and professional service providers working together that has built up its unique and vast innovation ecosystem. No one part can function 100% without the support of the others. That halo effect is just as important in New Zealand as it is in the Valley.

It’s also important to understand that the WNT Venture’s ‘effect’ reflects the Bay of Plenty’s unique regional characteristics. These are not replicated in Silicon Valley. We are therefore building an innovation ecosystem that fits in with our own needs and resources. I am proud of that.

There is one other important aspect of the Valley conversation. The team at WNT Ventures has a very strong commitment to the ‘Think Global from Day 1’ mantra. It’s what drives much of the thought process around just how we invest, and into whom. Longer term, the relationships and partnerships that Wharf42 has with key, significant Valley networks will be leveraged for the benefit of those investments. This bridge between the two ecosystems will play an increasingly important function going forward.

In this, we are not alone. WNT Ventures two other innovation hub partners, Newnham Park and TiDA, both have their own extensive offshore networks. It’s these global connections that add so much more to the WNT offer. Reaching out to identify complex IP opportunities generated by public sector-funded research is only part of the story. Wrapping business teams and investment around those opportunities and then taking them out to the global market to scale-up is the other.

Today, WNT Ventures is perfectly positioned to execute on both.