Is NZVIF directionally correct?

The New Zealand Venture Investment Fund was set up 14 years ago with the best intentions – to foster an early stage investment sector in New Zealand by being a fund of funds. It’s had $250 million for VC and PE funds but only $129.7 million of that had been invested to June 2015 and $100 million of it is an underwrite facility.

NZVIF later added the now $50 million Seed Co-Investment Fund (SCIF) which co-invests alongside accredited angel investors. As at June 2016 it had placed $38.2 million of that.

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New Zealand to join Australian medical research fund

New Zealand life science and medical research companies will be able to bid for millions of Australian dollars in funding to support new drugs and medical developments after the government signed up to Australia’s Medical Research Commercialisation Fund.

New Zealand will pay A$500,000 a year to be part of the fund, the same amount paid by Australian states, Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce said in a statement. The fund was set up in 2007 and other investors include Australian Superannuation funds. It is operated by Brandon Capital Partners.

Companies compete for investment and support for the pre-clinical development and commercialisation of discoveries. Early funding can receive up to A$3 million, with the potential for a further A$17 million in investment.

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Powerhouse Ventures plans Australian stock exchange listing

 A company that develops ideas into commercial successes is set to list on the Australian stock exchange.

Christchurch-based Powerhouse Ventures invests in intellectual property and technology, shaping concepts into businesses that can compete on a global scale.

The intellectual property is mostly sourced from New Zealand’s universities.

Among Powerhouse’s portfolio are Fluent, software that detects emotions by tracking micro-expressions, Avalia immunotherapy, which develops platform technology to design cancer treatments and HydroWorks, which makes turbines for electricity generation. It now has more than 50 staff and multimillion-dollar turnover.

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Ag tech investments double in 2015 despite U.S. farm slump: study

Investments in agriculture technology startups surged to a record $4.6 billion in 2015 despite a steep drop in U.S. farm income and slumping profit at farm-affiliated companies such as machinery producers and seed makers, according to a study released on Wednesday.

The investments were nearly double the $2.36 billion seeded by venture capitalists and others in 2014, according to the annual report from online food and agriculture investment platform AgFunder.

The jump came as net U.S. farm income is projected to drop for a third straight year and as industry stalwarts such as equipment maker Deere & Co and seed and agrochemicals company Monsanto Co face slumping sales and job cuts.

“There’s definitely been a downturn in the broader market, but ultimately the direction of agriculture is going toward an more technologically driven future,” said AgFunder CEO Rob Leclerc.

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LCT completes $2.8m private placement and announces SPP

17 February 2016 – Sydney, Australia & Auckland, New Zealand – Living Cell Technologies Limited has completed the placement of 54,607,546 shares at $0.05063 to wholesale investors resident in New Zealand, raising $2,764,621. The issue price is a 10% discount to the 5 day volume weighted average price to 12 February 2016.

The funds will be used as working capital to carry out the Phase IIb clinical trial of lead product NTCELL® in Parkinson’s disease and to apply for provisional consent to treat paying patients in New Zealand in 2017.

Chief Executive Dr Ken Taylor says that all investors who took part in the previous private placement in October 2014 also participated in this placement, alongside a number of new investors.

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UN: Stopping Zika may require GM insects

Geneva – The World Health Organisation says it may be necessary to use controversial methods like genetically modified mosquitoes to wipe out the insects that are spreading the Zika virus across the Americas.

The virus has been linked to a spike in babies born with abnormally small heads, or microcephaly, in Brazil and French Polynesia. The UN health agency has declared Zika a global emergency, even though there is no definitive proof it is causing the birth defects.

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War on weeds nets $44 million windfall

A new Landcare Research quantitative study has revealed the “surprising” amount the Ragwort flea beetle saves in control costs.

“Until now we have only been able to speculate on the financial benefits of the Ragwort flea beetle to farmers,” said Landcare Research scientist Simon Fowler.

“We had no hard data. We had amazing before and after photos of the flea beetle’s work. But people need quantitative data so we revisited our research and we have now finished a national cost-benefit analysis”.

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Proliant Plant Opening

The new Proliant (NZ) blood plasma processing plant in Feilding has been officially opened today by the Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce.

Proliant’s American owner Mr Nix Lauridsen attended the opening to see the culmination of three year’s work to build the state of the art plant.

The purpose of the plant is to change lives, says Proliant Chief Operating Officer Randy Fitzgerald, the facility does more than convert an agricultural raw material to higher value products.

“The products produced in this operation change lives by being part of diagnostic test kits, vaccine products, life science research, and monoclonal drug production.”

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LCT receives ethics approval for Phase IIb Parkinson’s trial

Living Cell Technologies has received approval from the Northern A Health and Disability Ethics Committee for the Phase IIb clinical trial of NTCELL® for Parkinson’s disease. The New Zealand Minister of Health authorised the application to conduct the trial on 12 November 2015.

The Phase IIb trial follows the successful Phase I/IIa trial, which showed excellent safety data and clinically and statistically significant efficacy data in patients with Parkinson’s disease one year after NTCELL treatment.

The Phase IIb trial aims to confirm the most effective dose of NTCELL, define any placebo component of the response and further identify the initial target Parkinson’s disease patient sub group. The company plans to initiate the trial on 24 February 2016.

If the trial is successful the company will apply for provisional consent and launch NTCELL as the first disease modifying treatment for Parkinson’s disease in 2017.


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New Insights on Safety Studies of GM organisms

Feeding studies of GM food/feed have been studied in detail by an EU-funded project called GMO Risk Assessment and Communication of Evidence (GRACE). The project team used GM maize event MON 810 in a 90-day and one-year feeding study. The team did not find any indication that a routine performance of 90-day feeding studies with whole food/feed would provide additional information on the safety on MON810 when compared to the compositional comparison of the GM variety.

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