Powerhouse was established in 2006 to commercialise scientific innovation developed at the universities of Lincoln and Canterbury along with the region’s other leading research-intensive institutions.
By 2010, Powerhouse had 3 investments. Since then, Powerhouse has expanded to become a nation-wide organisation with a current portfolio of 19 companies.
The approach used by Powerhouse is based on similar successful models in Europe. In addition to investing directly in its own portfolio of companies, Powerhouse manages the co-investment of funds from external investors. Its principal Co-investors are NZVIF Investments Limited (a subsidiary of New Zealand Venture Investment Fund) and CRIS Limited (a subsidiary of Canterbury Development Corporation).
Powerhouse acquired the CRIS co-investment portfolio just prior to the end of Powerhouse’s 2015 financial year.
Powerhouse pioneered the use of Annual Funds in New Zealand to invest in early-stage technology. It raised four Funds via New Zealand limited partnerships and was the General Partner of each. The first Fund was created in 2008 and the fourth in 2012.
Powerhouse acquired the assets of each of the four Limited Partnerships in early 2015 to establish itself as an investment company suitable for a listing on a stock exchange.
Powerhouse has developed a proprietary approach for the rigorous assessment of research-led innovation. This unique approach means that customer-demand and the required performance criteria can be systematically assessed. This methodology is coupled with a lean approach to venture development that initially requires only low levels of investment.
During the early development phase Powerhouse works closely with a business to help shape the strategic direction. Occasionally, a Powerhouse employee takes an interim management role until such time as the business reaches a sufficient stage of maturity and has the resources to externally recruit a leadership team. Through this approach, Powerhouse seeks to progressively eliminate risk, monitor progress against milestones and, revise strategic direction based on commercial feedback.
The Powerhouse model is designed to build a robust portfolio of successful Post-seed companies. Deployment of capital at the earlier high-risk stages of a business’ development is minimised.
Powerhouse has gained international recognition and awards for its approach to commercialisation.
- the Asian Association of Business Incubators’ Incubator of the Year Award 2009;
- the NBIA Incubator Innovation of the Year 2011 Award presented in California by the National Business Incubator Association in recognition of Powerhouse’s Venture Out programme at Lincoln University; and
- the receipt by Managing Director Dr Stephen Hampson of the UK Business Incubation Champion Award in 2012.
Powerhouse’s Portfolio Companies have also received recognition in New Zealand and internationally.
The Powerhouse Board collectively possesses considerable investment, commercial and financial experience, with particular expertise in the development of research-generated innovation.
The Board is supported by an experienced management team that has the primary responsibility for sourcing, shaping and building new, early-stage opportunities.
This team has specialist expertise that spans Powerhouse’s four main investment sectors and provides a direct interface between Powerhouse and each of New Zealand’s eight universities. In addition, Powerhouse leverages its extensive network of highly-experienced individuals with relevant financial, technical and industry-sector expertise to build and strengthen the boards of Portfolio Companies.
Powerhouse employs 20 staff. It has a corporate office in Addington, Christchurch and additional regional offices in Dunedin, Christchurch and Wellington. Powerhouse has recently established a Melbourne office.