Innovest seeks more Kiwi investment

Please note - the date for this event has changed to June 18 (previously February 1)

A new event which takes a 'New Zealand Inc' approach to securing investment in Kiwi companies kicks off in June.

Innovest, backed by Auckland, Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), will be the biggest event of its kind in the country and involves a slew of government agencies, industry organisations, professional providers such as banks and law-firms, and locally-based small to medium sized enterprises.

Many of the organisations involved hold their own events aimed at match-making Kiwi companies seeking growth capital with offshore and local investors, but this is the first time they'll all join forces to do so at the Auckland event on June 18.

ATEED spokesman Darren Grant said the collaboration around what is aimed to be an annual event has been important because New Zealand often lacked the scale needed to get on the radar of some international investors.

"This is not just an Auckland event, it's a New Zealand event in terms of having that one voice for New Zealand."

Sponsors include New Zealand Trade & Enterprise, Immigration New Zealand, the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment, and Vodafone and the event is being organised by business consultancy, Business Dominoes, and Fairfax Media.

New Zealand has a number of innovative SMEs with global ambitions but while these privately-held companies are often successful, they require added commercial capability, distribution or investment to expand internationally, said co-organiser Debbie Humphrey of  Business Dominoes.

NZTE director of investor networks Cheyne Gilhooly said he's hoping the event will be a catalyst for other events to cluster around to form an Innovation Week.

"That way the international audience can come in and really indulge themselves in the New Zealand opportunity."

Innovest will be limited to 120 invite-only companies ranging from early stage to more mature businesses of up to $50 million revenue. The three target business types are early stage businesses with a proven core offer or technology that are seeking partners to commercialise, developing innovative businesses with a significant business domestically that want to go global, and successful, privately-owned businesses where the owners are seeking to exit or find succession partners. The latter comprises a significant chunk of Kiwi SMEs.

Five weeks out from the event a summary of all the attending businesses will be emailed out to investor delegates and an online facility will be available for them to book appointments with those they are keen on.

The event is being promoted through the KEA ex-patriate network globally and through ex-patriate ambassadors including KEA chair Phil Veal in New York, Silicon Valley-based Poojitha Preena and London-based Richard Dellabarca.

KEA CEO Sue Watson said research her organisation undertook last year on New Zealand's diaspora showed at least 15 per cent were strongly motivated to invest in New Zealand companies, and almost three quarters (72.8 per cent) said they would be willing to help mentor or manage a New Zealand SME.  

"Anything that raises the profile of investments here and tells the New Zealand investment story must be of value and increase our foreign direct investment into here which has been in dramatic decline," Watson said.