New Drone Driven by ‘Potential Game Changer’ Solar Tech

Potential game changer

The following includes excerpts from Kim Baker Wilson, 1 News

From a distance it looks almost like any other drone. But a large black panel on a prototype developed by an Auckland startup makes this one a little different, in a big way.

“We’re one of the few companies in the world to deliver this technology for light-based energy transmission,” said Aquila CEO and co-founder William Jeremijenko.

It’s light that is invisible to the eye.

But they’re using it to charge the drone while it flies, opening the doors for a raft of possibilities in the future.

“You can imagine having this on agricultural sites or mining sites where you’ve got a lot of moving platforms,” Jeremijenko told 1News.

“They need an energy source and you can have that energy supplied continuously by beams of light.”

The ultimate goal, as he puts it, is to make an “internet of energy” – a network of satellites to send power from where it’s generated to where it’s needed.

Eventually they hope to send the power to electric planes flying internationally.

“So with this directed energy capability you can all of a sudden create these networks that can serve any imaginable application,” Jeremijenko said.

And the hope is it can be done within a decade, helped along by AUD$3 million (NZ$3.2 million) recently secured in funding.

Their solution involves a “lighthouse” module that can direct a beam of light to a receiver, in this case on the prototype drone.

The receiver is in effect a specialised solar panel that can work with the specialised light. It can deliver more than what solar can.

“So think of autonomous aerial vehicles, or boats, or submarines just staying forever, that’s the goal,” fellow co-founder Nelson Smith said.

“The biggest reasons we can’t transition to renewables is electrical propulsion just isn’t good enough yet.

“However if we can charge things mid-flight suddenly all those barriers just evaporate.”

The team is working to make safety a key part of the whole design.

“For me to put it in front of people, it has to be safe… we have to be so confident that it’s not even going to hurt a bird, let alone a person,” said Smith. “And it’s working beautifully so far.”

7 August 2023


Kiwi fusion scientists get $10m to solve global energy question

OpenStar Technologies’ seed investors, led by Outset Ventures, have compared its potential with Rocket Lab.

The following includes excerpts from Will Mace (NBR)

 OpenStar Technologies has emerged from stealth mode after closing a US$6.2 million ($10m) seed round led by Outset Ventures and supported by Icehouse Ventures, Blackbird, Radar, Ngāi Tahu Holdings, K1W1, and Aspire.

Now OpenStar has let the sun shine on its venture, releasing a statement today explaining its not-insignificant mission of harnessing fusion to revolutionise global energy supplies, as led by co-founder and CEO Dr Ratu Mataira – a Robinson Research Institute alumni.

The startup had “quietly” opened the doors at its Ngauranga facility a year ago, and has since recruited 28 “hyper-specialised” staff to build “one of the boldest engineering prototypes New Zealand has seen,” it said today.

By the end of this year, it aims to have used its prototype technology to surpass other researchers “with half the money, in a fifth of the time”.

Outset Ventures partner Angus Blair has called OpenStar “undoubtedly the most ambitious startup to come out of New Zealand”, while Icehouse Ventures’ Robbie Paul put the company in the same world-beating category as Rocket Lab, in terms of commercialising an area typically dominated by governments.


Fusion involves the merging of light atomic nuclei – such as the isotopes of hydrogen – to make new, heavier elements and thereby produce the kind of energy we see emerging from the sun and other stars.

Fusion has been a key field of research for years, to help humanity unlock an efficient and effective energy source, and while New Zealand scientists and the Robinson Research Institute have played a huge part over the years, Mataira’s particular approach is giving fresh hope of a breakthrough.

OpenStar’s point of difference to other fusion companies is in the design of its reactor.

Capital intensive

According to the Fusion Industry Association, there are 35 publicly active, privately funded fusion energy companies around the world, OpenStar noted. The ‘leader’ – Commonwealth Fusion Systems – has raised more than US$2 billion, and there are six others that have attracted more than US$200m, the company said.

In an information document alongside today’s announcement, under the heading Impact to New Zealand, OpenStar noted that its strategy was “highly likely to retire risk far quicker and far cheaper than our competitors.

“That being said, in a New Zealand context, the capital intensity of this business is unprecedented in the private sector.

“OpenStar’s seed round was roughly US$6.2m, which is being deployed on an 18-month timeline.

“Looking ahead towards the Series A capital raise and beyond, OpenStar will be deploying hundreds of millions, or possibly billions of dollars of capital throughout this decade. It is OpenStar’s expectation that it will become an international business at some stage on this timescale.

“While many look at the success of Rocket Lab as being the beginning of an NZ space industry, it is actually a wider effect, of which OpenStar is another leap. The New Zealand tech ecosystem is maturing!”

Mataira credited his whakapapa with his single-minded quest for OpenStar. His grandmother, Dame Kāterina Mataira, received her knighthood for her efforts to save te reo Māori from extinction.

“If she could do that, what is the measure of what you can do in a single life? For our generation – for my life – that challenge is climate change and the future of human prosperity,” said Mataira.

“Fusion itself is only a technical solution, but these problems are more than technical. Saving te reo Māori wasn’t done via an app, AI, or government intervention – it was done by people coming together with a sense of responsibility, courage, and hope to protect what was most important to them. That’s OpenStar, and that’s me.”

07 August 2023

Knowledge at the Speed of Beer

Outset Ventures: Igniting Deep-Tech Innovation in New Zealand

Check out the full Op-Ed on Outset Ventures written by Sean Simpson, the Founder and Strategic Advisor of LanzaTech.

In this Op-Ed, Sean Simpson discusses the vital role of community and conversation in fostering successful idea generation for tech entrepreneurs. He highlights Outset Ventures, a deep-tech incubator in Auckland, New Zealand, which not only provides purpose-built facilities but also serves as a campus where aspiring entrepreneurs can learn from each other. The incubator focuses on innovative deep-tech ideas, leading to the emergence of groundbreaking companies that contribute to the country’s economic growth. Outset’s proven model of community-driven support has propelled various start-ups to success, making it a key player in New Zealand’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

23 July 2023

World of Drones and Robotics Congress 2023, New Zealand Edition

Outset Ventures is a proud supporter of the World of Drones and Robotics Congress (WoDaRC) New Zealand Edition, taking place in Auckland from May 22nd to 24th, 2023.

For the past 7 years the Asia-Pacific’s leading drones and robotics congress has been successfully held in Brisbane, Australia. In May 2023 a special New Zealand and Pacific edition of the internationally renowned and award-winning World of Drones and Robotics Congress – WoDaRC – is coming to Auckland.
The first 100 registrants of the conference will have the opportunity to attend the Welcome Reception held at the Outset Ventures on the evening of the 22nd May.

So get in fast and register now!

NewFish and Cawthron Institute’s Strategic Partnership to Commercialise Microalgae Protein Potential

The Start of a multi-year partnership for R&D of high quality non-animal proteins from microalgae.

The following includes excerpts from NewFish and  Cawthron Institute Statement

The partnership combines Cawthron’s expertise in seaweed and microalgae with NewFish’s innovation and commercialization capabilities. The partnership will focus on shared research and the development of high-quality non-animal proteins from microalgae.

Cawthron has over 100 years of science history, and a team of nearly 300 people from more than 30 countries, headquartered in Nelson. The research institute is also home to the nationally significant Culture Collection of Microalgae.

Volker Kuntzsch, Cawthron Chief Executive, says the Institute is strongly focused on realising the potential of algae and marine bioactive resources.

“With the ocean making up 96 percent of Aotearoa New Zealand’s territory, there is a significant opportunity for our waters and its natural resources to provide for us now, and into the future. What fascinates me is that the environmental impact of growing algae and seaweed is so much smaller than traditional protein.  Exploring the untapped potential of marine bioactives could signal the establishment of an exciting new industry for our country, with the aim of creating an exemplary blue economy with a healthy natural environment as the ultimate ambition.”

NewFish is a fast-growing US-New Zealand start-up focused on non-GMO algae fermentation and IP commercialisation into specialised ingredients. Toby Lane, incoming NewFish CEO, says resource-efficient and functional blue proteins are critical to shaping the future of the protein sector.

“With CO2 at its highest point in more than two million years, and the global population growing, we urgently need new sources of naturally sourced, high quality protein with reduced ecological externalities. We have a responsibility to provide consumers and customers with great tasting, healthy protein that has a light environmental footprint. Microalgae will play a pivotal role in delivering this.” says Toby. 

The announcement marks the start of a multi-year partnership  aims to create a blue economy with a healthy natural environment as the ultimate ambition.

19 January 2023

ESOPs Unlocked: An AMA-style Panel Event with Team Outset

Join us for an informative Ask me anything -style Panel event to discuss the how, what and why of Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs). The Outset Ventures team Mat Rowe, Angus Blair and Michael Bignell are all set to answer your questions on this popular employee benefit structure.

Whether you are an employer considering implementing an ESOP, or an employee curious about the benefits and drawbacks, this event provides a great opportunity for you to learn more and get your questions answered by the experts. Our panellists, who bring a wealth of experience in the investment and entrepreneurship fields, will provide valuable insights on how ESOPs can benefit a company and its employees.

To make the most of this time, we ask that you please submit your questions you have regarding ESOPs in advance here.

Register now to secure your spot!


Red Phase receive $397K from from the government’s Low Emission Transport Fund (EECA).

Innovative projects to cut transport emissions and costs, get government co-funding

The following includes excerpts  from  New Zealand government  Press Release:

Eleven new transport projects including clever solutions for electric vehicle charging, ways to cut fuel costs in heavy freight, and the first marine project will get co-funding from the Government, Energy and Resources Minister Dr Megan Woods has announced today.

“In total, the projects will receive $2.14 million from the Government’s third round of The Low Emission Transport Fund so they can trial new ways of slashing emissions in the transport sector, in areas that were previously seen as hard to decarbonise,” says Megan Woods.

“The projects come in all shapes and sizes. At a more local level, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, ahi kā from Tāmaki Makaurau will run a car share service using a community app with chargers, three EV cars, and an EV van so whānau in the local community have accessible and affordable transport without needing to run an expensive private car.

“We are also happy to support work on one of the big reasons that stop prospective buyers from purchasing EVs – slow charging. For example Red Phase Technologies will work with Z Energy and Powerco to integrate a super high-speed charger at a Waiouru site, using technology that will reduce the impact on the grid.

“Jump Charging will build a portable skid-mounted 75kW DC rapid charging station that can be installed in locations that require temporary increases in EV charging demand such as special events or emergency situations.

“Congratulations to all successful applicants, I look forward to following your progress. You are part of the national effort to reduce our transport emissions by 41 percent by 2035,” Megan Woods said.

Red Phase Technologies Limited are one of the approved projects, receiving  $397,000.

Electric vehicle charging demonstration project – mitigation of grid constraints

Red Phase will work with Z Energy and Powerco to integrate a super high-speed charger at a grid-constrained site in Waiouru using technology that will modify charger draw and reduce impact on the power network, minimising impact on the electricity grid and avoiding expensive grid upgrades. The system delivers 4 chargers that can provide over 180kW each.


16 November 2022

Showcase by Outset Ventures

In association with the Auckland Climate Festival happening this October, We are excited to bring you our first showcase onsite with presentations from three of our emerging and transformative deep technology start-ups in residence.

The Showcase will take you through their  journey with each  company sharing their vision and purpose towards creating the change they wish to see in the world. Come along to hear about the inspirational stories behind these start-ups,  to celebrate their initiative, commitment and journey so far towards taking risks to solve some of our greatest global challenges.

Presentations by:

Freddy Gonzalez (CE / Co-Founder) and Danilo Perez (CTO / Co-Founder): Vertus Energy

Tim Hawkey: Co-Founder and CEO at EnergyBank

James Obern: VP Commercial at Avertana

You don’t want to miss this!

Register now to attend:

Zenno Announces $10.5 Million Seed Round To Pioneer

Auckland-based space-tech company Zenno Astronautics (Zenno) has announced a $10.5 million seed round.

The following includes excerpts  from  Zenno Press Release:

Based on the patented use of super magnets, the company’s satellite control and propulsion system is set to revolutionise the way spacecrafts navigate space and the impact they have on our planet. The tech enables completely fuel-free satellite positioning; as well as fully autonomous, precision interaction between satellites (critical for debris removal, servicing and construction in orbit), leading to world-first electromagnetic shielding of spacecrafts and the humans inside them from radiation damage.

Raised off the back of a multi-year sales commitment of several million dollars, including a committed constellation (a system of satellites that work together to achieve a purpose), by well established industry veterans, New Zealand’s GD1 (Global From Day One) and Nuance Connected Capital led the round, with additional investment from US based Shasta Ventures. NZGCP, K1W1, European billionaire Wolfgang Leitner, Alt Ventures, Enterprise Angels, and NZVC also participated.

Getting objects to move around in space is hugely challenging. There’s nothing to push on and

never enough power or fuel to make things move as much as you need them to,” explains Max Arshavsky, Zenno Founder, CEO and CTO.

“What Zenno has built will enable easy, seamless movement in space without the need for power or fuel and while taking up twenty times less space than traditional propulsion systems. The technology that has the potential to support the future of the space industry for 100 years to come in a transformative, planet friendly manner,” believes Max.

The seed round will enable Zenno to launch the technology in-orbit on a technology demonstration mission in Q4 of 2023.


9 August 2022

Hybrid Workshop Series

Patent Searching for Early Stage Deep-Tech Startups

Join us for our first hybrid event with Outset’s resident IP Advisor and Jedi Knight Tim Stirrup who will be leading a two-episode workshop in the Jedi Council meeting room (Boardroom, Level 3) at Outset.
The workshops will be a combination of interactive seminar (~30mins) and guided learning using open-source patent search databases (~30mins), plus Q&A.

There is no prior knowledge required.  Fundamentals of the patent system will be outlined.

Learning objectives

After completing this course, attendees will:

  1. Understand what patents are and how to access information about them
  2. Appreciate the benefits of reviewing patents for technical concept research
  3. Understand when to carry out a search, which type of search is appropriate and when to contact an IP professional
  4. Prepare a search strategy which efficiently captures the patents relevant to an area of research
  5. Complete a search using open-source patent databases and evaluate the search results.
  6. Analyse patent data to gain insights into competitor strategy and technology trends

Session 1

  • Intro to patents and key criteria for grant (novelty, inventive step and written description)
  • Review of different search types and reasons for patent searching
  • Directed learning doing patent searching using online open-source databases
  • Round-up including when to speak to a patent attorney, risks and limitations of searching.

Session 2 + 1hr informal mentoring session

  • Explanation of
    • patent novelty,
    • the issues with public disclosure, and
    • structure of patent specifications and how to read them
  • directed learning using online open-source databases – advanced search strategies and patent analytics for particular companies or areas of technology
  • Post-session informal mentoring – Up to 1-hour post-session informal mentoring session to answer any questions arising from the workshops.

Please note; In-person attendance is capped at max 25 people, so get in fast! Please only register for in-person attendance if you are able to attend. 

Register here for Part one (On-site Attendance) : 26th July

Register Here For Part One (Virtual Attendance): 26th July

Register Here For Part Two (On-site Attendance): 2nd August

Register Here For Part Two (Virtual Attendance): 2nd August

Get in touch.

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