Elevate invests $14 million into Finistere Aotearoa Fund

/ News / 13 Apr 2021 / Katie Hickmer

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Elevate NZ Venture Fund is committing $14 million into the Finistere Aotearoa Fund which will target agri-tech companies needing Series A and B investment.

The Finistere Aotearoa Fund - a subsidiary of Silicon Valley venture capital fund managers Finistere Ventures - will match Elevate’s commitment at least dollar-to-dollar with private capital.  That means at first close at least $28 million will be available to invest into agri-tech investments in New Zealand connected entities. 

Finistere Ventures is aiming for a final close of $42 million, which if achieved would see Elevate’s contribution rise to $21 million.[1]

The New Zealand operation will be managed by long-time investment manager Dean Tilyard, and based in Palmerston North.  Finistere Ventures, which was co-founded by Arama Kukutai, a New Zealander based in California, has a global agri-tech focus with offices in the United States, Ireland, Israel and New Zealand.

Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash welcomed the new Elevate commitment.

“The government’s Agritech Industry Transformation Plan was launched last year.  In that, we highlighted that investment was a key constraint for the sector, so we welcome the creation of this specialist fund and look forward to its productive contribution to New Zealand’s transformation.”

Elevate Investment Director James Pinner said Finistere has been operating in New Zealand for a number of years and has very strong connections across the agri-tech and start-up space.

“Finistere and Dean Tilyard established Sprout, a Callaghan tech incubator based in Palmerston North with a strong agri-tech focus, and the fund has a number of existing New Zealand investments including BioLumic, Invert Robotics and CropX – all three have also been supported by NZGCP via our Aspire fund.

“Agri-tech is a New Zealand success story and Palmerston North, which has Massey University and a number of Crown Research Institutes, is a key agri-tech hub. The region has one of the highest concentration of agri-tech focused scientists in the southern hemisphere.

“With Finistere’s strong track record globally, we see this investment aligning well with the government’s broader agri-tech strategy.  It is also pleasing to be part of the first venture fund located outside of Auckland or Wellington.  Palmerston North has attracted disproportionately high levels of angel and seed investment over the past decade, and a venture capital presence is indicative of the investment potential of its research facilities.”

Dean Tilyard, founder and director of Sprout, will now serve as Finistere’s New Zealand Venture Partner and lead the fund’s New Zealand operations.

“New Zealand is a world leader in agricultural research and innovation focused on curtailing the environmental impacts of agriculture, fuelled in part by the government’s continued investment in and commitment to a zero-emissions national agriculture strategy," added Arama Kukutai, co-founder and partner, Finistere Ventures. "This new fund underpins our commitment to the local ecosystem. In the year ahead, our goal is to anchor more investment from our global network of partners like Rabobank, RIV Capital Inc. and Yamaha to support New Zealand’s best start-ups.”

This is the fourth commitment by Elevate – the government’s new venture capital fund being run by New Zealand Growth Capital Partners  – since its launch in March last year.  It follows the $22.75 million investment into the Blackbird Ventures’ New Zealand fund, $30 million into Movac Fund 5, and a $20 million commitment into Pacific Channel. This investment takes Elevate’s commitments to date up to potentially $94 million, and the Underlying Funds now have over $400 million available for investment in NZ Connected Entities at the Series A/B investment stage.
 

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[1] Finistere Ventures is a US fund manager and the partnership is in US dollars, with the amounts in this release being approximate NZ dollar conversions. The actual Elevate commitment is US$10m up to a maximum of US$15m, based on Finistere's first close of US$20m and targeted final close of US$30m. 

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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.

 

FINISTERE VENTURES:

  • Finistere Ventures is an agri-food technology and life sciences venture capital investor. Founded in 2005, the company partners with entrepreneurs to build innovative companies that have the potential to transform modern agriculture, increase food security, improve nutrition, and enhance sustainability. Its applied experience as operators, and pioneering role in agri-food tech, is actively utilised to benefit its portfolio companies.

  • Finistere’s US locations are in San Diego and Palo Alto, California and it has global access to new agri-food technologies in the United States, Australia, Israel, New Zealand, and Canada through its venture partner networks.

  • Finistere has been an active investor in NZ agri-food technology companies. Finistere Aotearoa Fund has been established deepen its commitments in NZ companies.

 

NZGCP media contact: David Lewis 021 976 119

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