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Tuhua rasies $10 million to invest in promising kiwi start-ups

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Today, The Icehouse and ICE Angels have announced the launch of a $10m fund called Tuhua which will invest in 25 leading kiwi start-ups over the next three years.

Tuhua will invest up to $1m per start-up with the fund already backing its first three; two of which are:

Avertana - Avertana extracts high value chemicals from industrial waste. Among others, they have developed a unique process for titanium dioxide extraction. Nyriad - Nyriad is pioneering computing software that leverages GPU processors, replacing traditional CPUs, to rapidly compress and stream data.

Matthew Simmons, CEO of Nyriad, talks about what the investment and connections will mean to Nyriad.

"The Tuhua fund has added another tier of high networking individuals with a vested interest in our company," Simmons says.

Simmons says Tuhua acts an enabler for Nyriad to tap into the technology network New Zealand has on offer.

The partnership between The Icehouse and the ICE Angels enables Tuhua to provide unprecedented amounts of resource and support to start-ups.

ICE Angels CEO, Robbie Paul, says the objective of the fund is to become a game changer in how ICE Angels and The Icehouse impact start-ups.

"The team, as well as the 100s of investors that have invested with us into 97 kiwi start-ups, have a burning and genuine desire to drive New Zealand forward by empowering globally competitive start-ups. Capital is not the only ingredient required to do so. However, this $10m fund is a potent addition to our expertise and world-class networks," Paul says.

The fund leverages the resources and infrastructure of The Icehouse and ICE Angels, which means it is well-equipped to grow portfolio companies.

Paul continues, "In addition to active Board members and Advisors, investees will have access to Board Observers (led by ICE Angels First Cut Ventures team) who are charged with unloading administrative tasks off of the founders, mining our networks for talent, and enabling data-based decision making by leveraging insights from our 97 investments. The start-ups will also have access to The Icehouse space in Parnell and its team."

This value-add will be delivered as a result of a number of partnerships, including with the NZ Government’s Callaghan Innovation which provides significant year on year funding to support the operations of the Icehouse’s startup offerings. The Icehouse has historically provided a significant private sector leverage for the Government funding. In 2015, private investment secured by Icehouse and ICE Angels was $10.78m which represented a 10 times multiple on the Government’s operational funding and a 4 times multiple on total Government funding.

Investor and former Microsoft NZ Managing Director, Ross Peat, says the three start-ups are great representatives of the types of entrepreneurs Tuhua aspires to invest in and support.

"They are led by teams with very unique and expert perspectives on global opportunities and have a relentless drive to pursue those opportunities. The companies are well supported by other local investors that we know well and have co-invested with over the past 12 years," Peat says.

Tuhua, Maori for obsidian, is volcanic glass created by the rapid cooling of lava. It was a prized tool used for hunting in New Zealand and has a rich history with the earliest known blades dating back to 700,000 BC. Well-crafted obsidian blades can have a cutting edge many times sharper than high-quality steel surgical scalpels.

Paul explains the significance behind the fund’s name, "The analogy of providing entrepreneurs "tools for the hunt" aligns with the Tuhua mission. The visualisation of "unpolished gems" is also appropriate: $4m of the $10m will be invested into seed stage start-ups that are still rough around the edges."

Tuhua was established in November 2015 with seven cornerstone investors: Ross Peat; Japan’s internet pioneer, Tim Williams; former PWC London Senior Corporate Finance Partner, Richard Burns; software entrepreneur, Dennis Row; The Icehouse CEO, Andy Hamilton; ICE Angels CEO, Robbie Paul. Tuhua has received investment from a network of world class kiwi business leaders including more than 50 ICE Angels’ members as well as a number of kiwi entrepreneurs, corporate executives and professional investors.

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