Elevate makes first investment: into the newly formed Blackbird NZ Fund

/ News / 7 Sep 2020 / Katie Hickmer

Blackbird logo

PRESS RELEASE: 8 September 2020

 

Elevate NZ Venture Fund – the government’s new venture capital fund being run by New Zealand Growth Capital Partners – is investing $21.5 million into the Blackbird Ventures’ New Zealand fund.

Australia’s largest venture capital fund, Blackbird Ventures, established its first New Zealand fund in August 2019.  It is now expanding its activities by joining forces with the Elevate NZ Venture Fund (Elevate) to invest into promising New Zealand start-ups.

Including the Elevate investment alongside private and institutional investors, the Blackbird NZ fund will focus on investing into New Zealand-founded start-ups seeking Series A and B capital to fund further growth and is targeting a fund size of up to $60 million at final close in the next few weeks.

Today’s announced investment is Elevate’s first allocation following its launch in March 2020, said Murray Gribben, Chairman of New Zealand Growth Capital Partners (NZGCP).

“To make a first investment within a few months of Elevate’s launch is a credit to the Elevate team, and also the support we have had from Ministers, MBIE, Treasury, and Guardians of NZ Superannuation.   We look forward to announcing further investments soon, accelerating the allocation of capital into the New Zealand eco-system.

“Blackbird has a strong track record, a founder friendly approach and has shown great commitment to supporting and growing New Zealand companies.

“Blackbird has invested already into several New Zealand start-ups, including Sunfed Meats, AskNicely, FreightFish and AO Air, and has a very strong track record in Australia with investments into the likes of Canva, Culture Amp and Zoox. Their commitment to New Zealand’s venture capital ecosystem and the increasing diversity in this industry is evident with the establishment of their female-led Auckland office.

“Another benefit that Blackbird bring is its new and existing Australian core and follow on funds- having just closed their fourth fund of AU$500 million. This enhances the potential for NZ start-ups to access later stage capital to compete on a global stage.

“With Blackbird’s international connections, and proven track record of developing and supporting founders, we believe they will be well positioned to help achieve global success in the New Zealand start-up ecosystem.”

Mr Gribben said the selection process has been highly competitive with a number of other fund investments currently going through due diligence. 

“Elevate has up to $300 million to allocate, alongside matching private capital, and interest is strong.  We hope to announce further investments into more venture capital funds over the coming months.”

Blackbird partner, Samantha Wong commented “Despite COVID-19, we have seen no slow-down in the number of high quality Kiwi founders wanting to get started and raise capital to accelerate their journey. Due to excess demand, we raised the cap on the fund size from NZ$50 to NZ$60 million and are delighted to have Elevate as a major backer in our inaugural New Zealand fund.”

Guardians of NZ Superannuation Head of External Investments and Partnerships Del Hart says, “It’s exciting seeing this investment being made. We’re proud to play a role utilising our investment management experience to oversee Elevate NZ and help support development of New Zealand’s venture capital ecosystem.”

 

Media contact: David Lewis 021 976 119

 

BACKGROUND

NZGCP was established by the Government to build a vibrant early-stage investment market in New Zealand. It currently has two investment vehicles - the Aspire Fund (focusing on seed and angel investment) and Elevate.

Elevate is a $300m fund of funds program which looks to fill the capital gap for high growth New Zealand businesses at the Series A and B fund raising stage. Elevate’s objectives are to stimulate a functioning venture capital industry and make sure that high-growth New Zealand businesses have access to the capital and connections that they need in order to be successful.  It is managed by NZGCP with oversight from the Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation.

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