Outset Ventures is The Home of Deep Technology. We are an early-stage investment fund and a physical space for technology incubation. We’re all about backing contrarians and garage tinkerers from the outset.

The Outset Ventures building has been a starting place for science and engineering ventures for the last two decades, giving rise to companies such as Rocket Lab, LanzaTech, Mint Innovation and Pictor.

We’ve grown from a skunkworks operation to a well-connected incubator with 20+ deep technology startups in residence on site and a portfolio of ventures backed by our fund across New Zealand.

Get to know our risk takers below.

The Outset Ventures Team

Mat Rowe

Co-founder and Executive Director

Mat is formally trained in Chemical and Materials Engineering and Biotechnology and has helped lead several of New Zealand’s most innovative deep technology companies. Prior to founding Dotterel Technologies, who are developing and integrating noise reduction and audio technologies for unmanned aerial vehicles, Mat was the founding team member of international biofuels leader, LanzaTech. Mat is also a co-founder of Mint Innovation, who are recovering gold and other metals from electronic waste using biometallurgy, and was the R&D operations manager for BioConsortia, where he led field trials of novel microbial seed treatments. As Executive Director and co-founder of Outset Ventures, he is supporting the next generation of deep technology ventures.

Michael Bignell


Michael has been has been a supporter of our work at Outset Ventures since our early days as ”LevelTwo’. He has spent the last eight years dedicated to Emerging and Fast Growth companies at PwC New Zealand and brings a wealth of commercial knowledge. His management and governance experience and relationships, bring a strong commercial perspective to the broad range of issues faced by early stage and growth orientated businesses.

Sonya Popoff

Laboratory and Facilities Manager

Sonya Popoff joins Outset Ventures with many years of experience managing scientists and laboratories. Sonya utilizes her early career experience as a scientist in biotechnology as a resource to help foster young scientists and companies.

Her first-hand experience in research and development enables her to appreciate the challenges of developing new technology. Sonya is a vital part of making Outset a vibrant hub for enabling deep technology ventures to thrive and grow in New Zealand.

Angus Blair


Angus has spent his career leading the development of products and teams; working extensively in design, sports-tech and artificial intelligence, including collaborations with Intel, Oakley, Centrality, and New Balance. Angus coaches for New Zealand Powerlifting and has himself competed internationally including medalling at the Commonwealth Champs in 2015. Angus has lived in France, China, and New Zealand. He lives in Auckland with his wife Dora, their lovely three-year-old daughter Lexi, and their six-year-old retired greyhound Blue.

Dr Tim Stirrup

IP Advisor / Patent Attorney

Tim gets a buzz out of seeing raw research innovation turned into a living, breathing technology with high commercial potential. Tim has a PhD in molecular biology and is a Registered Trans-Tasman Patent Attorney. He’s worked with some of the country’s top deep tech innovators on IP protection and commercialisation of new technology. He’s there in the lab, workshop or field as much as possible and he believes there’s no better way to understand a technology than to experience it first-hand.

Tim brings deep IP legal experience to Outset to support founders and deep tech companies grow and protect their IP assets.

The Outset Ventures Investment Committee

Peter Beck

Founder, CEO, CTO – Rocket Lab

Peter Beck is the founder and CEO of Rocket Lab, a global organization that develops and launches advanced rockets, satellites, and spacecraft. Founded in 2006, Rocket Lab has delivered 100+ satellites to space and designs and manufactures the Electron and Neutron launch vehicles and Photon satellite platform. An award-winning engineer, Mr. Beck was appointed as an adjunct professor in aerospace engineering by the University of Auckland in recognition of his outstanding contributions to aerospace, entrepreneurship and technical innovation. In August 2021, Rocket Lab publicly listed on the Nasdaq with a valuation of $4.1 billion.

Dr Will Barker

Founder, CEO – Mint Innovation Board Member – KiwiNet

Will is the founder and CEO of Mint Innovation and is passionate about commercialising new technologies through securing IP, capital-raising and building high performance teams. Originally an organic chemist (PhD from Leicester University in the UK), Will has broad experience spanning the deep tech ecosystem from founder to investor, from patent attorney to commercial ops.  Over the last 15 years, Will has had the pleasure of working with some of New Zealand’s most innovative deep tech and ‘good for the world’ cleantech companies.  Will’s current focus at Mint is the delivery of innovative local metal recovery solutions for a global low carbon circular economy.

Dr Sean Simpson

Founder, CSO – LanzaTech. Director – Avertana, Dotterel Technologies

Dr Sean Simpson founded LanzaTech in 2005 in New Zealand and relocated the company to the US in 2014. LanzaTech has successfully developed, scaled and commercialized a novel industrial platform for the manufacture of sustainable fuels and chemicals. The company has raised over US$500 million in investment, and recently spun out a new company (LanzaJet) that will produce sustainable aviation fuel and diesel. Sean sits on the board of the start-up companies Avertana, and Dotterel. Sean has published over 20 journal articles and 200 patents. His awards include the 2015 US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Presidential Green Chemistry Award, 2014 New Zealand Innovator of the Year Award, and the 2013 Kea NZ World Class New Zealander in Science.

Robbie Paul

CEO – Icehouse Ventures

Robbie is CEO of Icehouse Ventures, an investment group that backs brave New Zealand founders. Robbie joined Icehouse Ventures in 2008 and established its first fund in 2013. Icehouse Ventures now has >$300m in AUM and has funded >260 Kiwi startups.

It was among the earliest investors in PowerbyProxi, Halter, Sharesies, First AML, Crimson Education, Ethique, and Mint Innovation.

Our values

A little bit nerdy
We love getting into the technical details of what you’re building.

Humble doers
We’re “roll your sleeves up” quiet achievers who are focused on enabling companies to get shit done. We activate and engage our strong networks to deliver.

Risk takers
We’re attracted to the unknown, we’re unafraid of thinking and supporting big. We move fast, refuse to accept the status quo, and boundary pushing is above all else.

Generous nurturers
We’re passionate defenders and champions of the deep tech ecosystem. We take a leadership role in nurturing people and providing advocacy for the interests of our community.

Trustworthy independents
We’re founders ourselves, and value founder ownership and independence very highly. Transparency, integrity and honesty are our keywords.