New Zealand’s Deep Tech Sector Gets Massive Boost As Icehouse Ventures & LevelTwo Join Forces – Scoop.co.nz


New Zealand’s deep tech sector is getting a massive
boost thanks to a new partnership between Icehouse Ventures
and LevelTwo that will see $10
million of funding, more laboratory workspaces and new
incubator programmes available for startups pushing the
boundaries of science and engineering to address some of our
world’s most pressing problems.

This marks the first
joint venture between a local investment group and a tech
incubator in New Zealand.

LevelTwo is the birthplace
of NZ’s only two deep tech unicorns – Rocket Lab and
LanzaTech – and home of the country’s only commercial
laboratory and workshop facility growing deep technology
startups.

The new partnership means that LevelTwo will
transition from an Auckland-based deep tech hub housing
early stage companies spanning the aerospace, agritech,
biotech, and cleantech industries, into an entity that will
also invest into dozens of deep tech startups throughout New
Zealand.

The success of similar partnerships overseas,
such as Johnson & Johnson’s JLABs, which has helped
over 450
companies secure $11.6 billion in financing
within six
years, was an inspiration for Icehouse Ventures to join
forces with LevelTwo and power up New Zealand’s deep tech
sector.

Today’s announcement translates into several
benefits for New Zealand entrepreneurs advancing science,
engineering and technology to deliver the next generation of
transformational innovation:

$10 million deep
technology fund

Around 20 to 30 deep tech startups
across New Zealand will receive investment from the
country’s first and only fund exclusively backing brave
deep tech founders with aspirations to scale their
breakthrough products to global markets. The LevelTwo deep
technology fund was raised in partnership with Icehouse
Ventures, with the fund’s first two investments expected
to be finalised in the next few weeks.

New Launch Lab
programme

Entrepreneurs prototyping their innovative
ideas can participate in a new pre-incubation “Launch
Lab” programme. Two LevelTwo residents are currently
piloting the initiative: Zenno Astronautics, which is
developing the world’s first fuel-free satellite engines
for sustainable space exploration, and Helico Bio, which is
testing the growth of human insulin in plants.

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New
laboratory facilities

More specialised laboratories
and workshop spaces are being added to accommodate the
growing waitlist of entrepreneurs wanting to access
LevelTwo’s world class facilities. The expansion of
LevelTwo’s footprint by an additional 25% to nearly 3,000
square meters has been made possible by new investment into
LevelTwo, with a significant contribution from Icehouse
Ventures, with Sir Stephen Tindall’s K1W1 and other
private investors also contributing.

Bigger talent
pool

Startups participating in one of the above
initiatives will have access to the combined talent pool of
entrepreneurs, investors and mentors supporting the startups
served by both companies. This thriving community includes
Rocket Lab’s Peter Beck, and LanzaTech’s Sean Simpson
and other high-calibre founders who’ve made successful
exits from previous companies. Beck sits on the board of
LevelTwo alongside newcomer Robbie Paul, CEO of Icehouse
Ventures. The two organisations are across the road from
each other in Parnell.

Imche Fourie, LevelTwo CEO
says:

“Our mission is to bring New Zealand’s deep
technology innovations to the world stage by transforming
unique, science and engineering-based ideas into companies
that deliver real-world solutions on a global scale. The
partnership with Icehouse Ventures bridges the gap for the
growing number of deep tech entrepreneurs across the country
who need access to specialised lab and testing facilities,
technology investors and a supportive startup
community.”

Robbie Paul, Icehouse Ventures
CEO, says:

Deep tech companies are cracking the
big problems in health, the environment and food scarcity,
and we want to help more of those companies get their start
in New Zealand. LevelTwo has unique features that cannot
easily be built or bought including a purpose-built lab
facility and links with iconic deep tech startups like
Rocket Lab and LanzaTech. We believe they will continue to
spawn the next generation of deep tech founders and our goal
is to use our collective resources to open the doors to
hundreds more founders and give them the best chance of
success.”

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Peter Beck, LevelTwo Board Member
and Rocket Lab Founder, says
:

“To build our
future, we need to pay more attention to ambitious deep
tech. The newly powered-up LevelTwo gives New Zealand deep
tech startups and emerging entrepreneurs access to
operational tools, infrastructure, funding and mentoring
opportunities necessary to take their exceptional idea from
the lab and out to the world as quickly as possible. I’m
proud of what the LevelTwo team has built and look forward
to being a part of its future.”

Dr Sean
Simpson, LevelTwo advisor, former resident, and LanzaTech
co-founder, says
:

“LevelTwo has created
exactly the environment and infrastructure that New
Zealand’s deep tech startups need. Over the last decade I
have seen the ad hoc cluster grow into a vibrant and
supportive community backed by a team that understands what
it takes to bring complex tech to market. It’s great to
see LevelTwo and Icehouse Ventures come together to support
the next generation of globally relevant technology ventures
to make a bigger impact.”

Prior to the partnership
with Icehouse Ventures, LevelTwo has helped grow 25
companies, which hold around 30 patents and have raised
around $20m in seed investment.

Timeline:

A
long history of deep tech development at what is now
LevelTwo: 40 Kenwyn St, Parnell

1994 –
first private company founded on site, BioConsortia
(then named BioDiscovery)

2001
Peter Beck started working on his passion for rockets via
Crown agency Industrial Research (now Callaghan
Innovation)

2005 – Sean Simpson
founded LanzaTech, received investment, and access to
specialised equipment from
BioConsortia

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2006 – Rocket Lab is
born

2014 – Idea of LevelTwo was born
by Mat Rowe (founder, Dotterel Technologies) and Dr Will
Barker (founder, Mint
Innovation)

2016 – LevelTwo is
formally incorporated, initially housing six deep tech
startups

2020 – Icehouse Ventures
invests in LevelTwo, forms partnership to boost the number
of deep tech startups emerging from New Zealand, now housing
16 deep tech ventures, with more on the way.

About
LevelTwo

LevelTwo is the home of the country’s only
commercial laboratory and workshop facility growing deep
technology startups. Located in Parnell, Auckland, its
mission is to bring New Zealand’s deep technology
innovations to the world stage by helping founders turn
unique, science- and engineering-based ideas into companies
that deliver real-world solutions on a global scale.
Currently home to 16 deep tech ventures, its entrepreneurs
can access almost 3,000 square meters of lab and workshop
spaces, technology investors and entrepreneurial networks
while preparing their breakthrough solutions for global
markets. See: https://leveltwo.tech/

About
Icehouse Ventures:
www.icehouseventures.co.nz

Icehouse
Ventures is an investment group backing New Zealand’s
bravest founders. The group includes Ice Angels and
ArcAngels investor networks, active funds Tuhua, Eden, First
Cut, and the Flux Accelerator. We have collectively invested
>$150m into 210 startups since
2001.

© Scoop Media

 



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