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

 

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

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

R&D Tax Incentive

R&D Tax Incentive: Public Statement from the deep technology start-up community in New Zealand on the Research and Development Tax Incentive (RDTI)

 

This public statement by Outset Ventures (formerly LevelTwo) is in relation to the Research and Development Tax Incentive (RDTI) and the recent end to Callaghan Innovation’s Growth Grant Scheme and subsequent transition of Research and Development (R&D) intensive companies to the RDTI scheme.

At Outset, we work with a significant number of R&D intensive, high-growth, deep technology companies operating in New Zealand, and have identified a number of challenges created by the transition to RDTI. Since 2018, we have been working with the early-stage deep tech community to understand how to mitigate these challenges and we have proposed four recommendations:

  • Enable companies on existing Growth Grants to delay transitioning to the RDTI until at least FY2023 (April 1st, 2023)
  • Ensure that companies transitioning to the RDTI are not impacted adversely through administrative overhead
  • Provide cashflow certainty for companies moving from a Growth Grant to the RDTI
  • Provide multi-year certainty on all R&D funding mechanisms for R&D intensive businesses

Presently none of these recommendations have been implemented, although we understand there is some work underway within certain agencies, but with uncertain timeframes on their implementation.

Biotelliga is grateful to have received a Callaghan Growth Grant that supported us to develop crop protection technologies that will reduce the use of synthetic pesticides in food production in NZ and around the world. Timelines from start-up to profitability in the AgBiotech sector are long (often ten years or longer) and significant investment is required, which can be sporadic. For companies like Biotelliga the regular in-year cash payments from the Growth Grant were a reliable source of ready funds that helped underpin and smooth-out funding from capital raising and other less consistent sources. In our view the RDTI as it is currently implemented – in particular the lack of pre-agreed in- year cash payment – is not a major incentive to the cashflow-focussed pre-profit tech companies that are most likely to be transformative in the economy and that need support the most. Damien Fleetwood – CEO – Biotelliga

The primary challenges faced by early-stage companies are the revenue difference between the Growth Grant and RDTI and the timing of payments. Both have a significant impact on cash-flow for early-stage companies, dramatically increasing the risk of failure. By way of example, the cash gap across those companies contributing to this statement is over $3m NZD per annum, caused by the cessation of Growth Grant Payments and the 12 to 18 months on timing for RDTI payments. The very real impacts of this cash gap in uncertain times are resulting in several outcomes including:

  • Delay or reduction of research spending that would have previously been undertaken or increased
  • Reduction in the ability to retain highly skilled staff, this is further impacted by the current border closures and reduced ability to bring in international talent.
    – Staff turnover within small, early-stage companies often also means as significant loss of intellectual property and know-how.
  • Strategically looking at where future research and development spending will occur, particularly where offshore opportunities may be.
    Increased pressure to raise additional capital, typically at lower valuations, as bank lending is typically unavailable due to the stage and risk profile of the companies

Outset again recommends:

  • Ensuring companies transitioning to the RDTI are not impacted adversely through administrative overhead
  • Providing cashflow certainty for companies moving from a Growth Grant to the RDTI
  • Providing multi-year certainty on all R&D funding mechanisms for R&D intensive businesses

“The funding from the Growth Grant was a valuable source of funding that underpinned Pictor’s other sources of funding. For example, it contributed to Pictor being able to put additional resources into the development of our SARS-Cov-2 (Covid-19) Antibody assay that has been patented internationally and is now being fast tracked in the US. This assay has the potential to play a major role in fighting the pandemic. It is unfortunate that the replacement RDTI scheme has not been implemented on a timely basis. This is negatively impacting on companies like Pictor that previously received Growth Grant funding. Urgency is required to implement this scheme and avoid further negative impacts on the R&D focused companies that need this to support their R&D.” Howard Moore – COO – Pictor

It is important to note that early-stage deep technology companies are a key part of New Zealand’s knowledge-based economy, are integral to supporting our nations vision of “building back better”, and are developing technologies to improve our environment, our health, and our food systems. The described impacts of this cash gap has knock-on impacts on how quickly New Zealand is able to adapt to climate change, create and adopt new health technologies, and increase productivity in a range of sectors. This is not just a business concern for a handful of companies, this is a macroeconomic concern.

“The RDTI has already had a significant negative impact on our cashflow. Where we were able to claim 20% of our substantial R&D spend under the Callaghan Innovation Growth Grant on a quarterly basis, we now claim only 15% on an annual basis. Cash flow is king for early stage R&D intensive companies like Mint and the new regime is extremely unhelpful- particularly in the context of a global pandemic.” Will Barker – CEO – Mint Innovation

Summary

Early-stage companies working in the deep technology space typically take years before they generate revenue or make a profit. Early-stage deep tech companies tend to have a singular focus on R&D and IP generation with significant overheads (a high R&D intensity) – much more so than larger companies engaged in R&D. Unlike larger companies, early stage companies often lack the financial resources to manage R&D cash flow so growth is supported by private investment and R&D grants provided by Callaghan Innovation and other agencies.

“It’s unacceptable that this regime has created two tier support for R&D. Businesses in a tax paying position are able to get immediate benefit from adjustments in provisional tax, while deep tech start ups, the companies that will be critical to solving NZ’s biggest problems, have to wait 12-18 months for the cash to come back to them. It’s illogical and wrong. Companies are now having to focus on capital raising activities, diverting time and resources away from valuable R&D activities. We risk losing world leading deep tech businesses offshore depending on the requirements of future investors”Nadine Williams – National R&D Director – PwC

By ending the Growth Grant Scheme without considering the cash flow implications, funding for R&D and IP-intensive companies to get to the next stage in their development is severely limited. This is particularly crucial because their time to profit is significantly longer than that of software or other digital technology companies. Yet these deep technology companies are a critical part of New Zealand’s knowledge-based economy and have significant growth and employment potential. We strongly urge Government to consider our recommendations as proposed.

“The quarterly cash flow provided by the Growth Grant, enabled businesses to ramp up R&D activities and create additional skilled and highly paid jobs. Callaghan Innovation previously advised that approximately 50% of Growth Grant recipients were not yet in a tax paying position so why doesn’t this regime provide the critical in year cash flow that we know is needed? Without in year cash payments this regime puts R&D businesses in a worse position than they were, and at a time where cash flow is so important to support NZ’s Covid recovery”Mat Rowe – Executive Director – Outset Ventures

Yours sincerely,
Mat Rowe – Executive Director
Outset Ventures Limited
40 Kenwyn Street
027 700 8119
mat@outset.ventures

02 December 2021

 

This comment is written on behalf of several early-stage deep technology companies operating in New Zealand and at Outset Ventures. The following companies support this statement:

Background 

Outset Ventures is a technology incubator and innovation precinct on the fringe of  Auckland’s CBD that provides physical space, incubation, funding and support for young  companies in the area of “deep tech.” In this context, deep technology is defined as  “technology that is based on tangible engineering innovations or scientific advances and  discoveries.” The companies that Outset supports are in a range of technological areas and  industries but primarily span clean technology, aerospace, medical technology and  biotechnology, agricultural technology, advanced manufacturing among others. 

It is important to differentiate between what is broadly considered “tech” companies and the  “deep tech” companies which Outset supports. “Tech” often encompasses software and  digital innovation companies, whereas “deep tech” is restricted to describing companies  which operate on the edge of science and engineering. The needs of these companies and  the timelines on which they operate differ substantially. Deep tech companies are often  heavily involved in generating, protecting and commercialising intellectual property (IP). 

The companies supported by Outset are typically pre-revenue and are heavily involved in  research and development activities, and thus “research and development intensive,” a term  used by MBIE and Callaghan Innovation to define the ratio of research spend against  revenue. Examples of companies that have resided within this innovation cluster include  Rocket Lab,LanzaTech and Mint Innovation, with current residents including Biotelliga,  Pictor, Dotterel Technologies, Avertana, Helico Bio, and Astrix. Outset currently incubates  eighteen companies engaged in research and development activities, with the vast majority  of their spend (approximately 80%) being on R&D. 

These companies are partially reliant on government funding, but fund much of the  operations of their companies primarily through private capital raising activities from local  and international investors. The Outset resident and portfolio companies have proven to be  highly successful in attracting investments with over US $500 million in capital secured to  date. Attracting capital into New Zealand to fund deep technology companies is challenging,  and due to ongoing COVID events and the benefits to enhance overseas investment through  government funding is a significant factor in attracting and de-risking foreign investment.  These benefits largely include Callaghan Innovation Getting Started Grants, Project Grants,  Experience Grants and Growth Grants, as well as the research and development loss tax  credit and similar schemes.

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