Border Stifling but Demand for Kiwi Innovation Growing

tech innovation

Demand for New Zealand innovation continues to grow globally with investors’ interest in NZ tech firms reaching new highs. More than $200 million of growth funding has been raised by tech companies so far this year.

New Zealand innovation is broad, with recent investments in agritech, digital healthcare, fintech and business to business software as a service (SAAS) solutions.

This week’s first-round raise of $17 million by Easy Crypto, possibly a New Zealand record for a start-up first round, demonstrates the level of interest in Kiwi innovation. Easy Crypto is a fintech business that provides a safe, easy place to understand and trade different cryptocurrencies. The company has recorded more than $1 billion in sales, with platform user numbers multiplying almost five times in the last 12months.

Another great example of Kiwi tech in demand is Joyous, a SAAS platform for businesses to help them stay engaged with their employees in a simple and effective way that improves employee satisfaction and productivity. Auckland analytics company Joyous raised $15 million last month to help it expand internationally.

Earlier this year Fuel50, another AI-powered service as a software (SAAS) solution that helps large businesses communicate better with staff, completed a successful Series B raise of almost $22 million.

One of the great benefits of this fast-growing tech sector is that the businesses can be based anywhere in New Zealand. Tauranga based LawVu,  which helps in-house lawyers track their workload through a cloud-based project management system, successfully raised $17 million in August to help it expand rapidly.

Founded in 2015, LawVu already employs 56 people in Tauranga and now has customers in 30 countries, NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller said.

“While it is great to see the confidence growing in the investment community for NZ tech firms, the current covid border settings are stifling the full opportunity,” he said.

“Raising the funds for growth is the first step, however, these funds are primarily for employing the skills and talent needed to drive growth to the next level.

“The ongoing border restrictions are forcing New Zealand’s high growth companies to employ teams of people outside of New Zealand to meet customer demand.

“The downside of this is that these roles are not likely to return to New Zealand and with them goes millions of dollars of lost income and company tax for the government. I will be reinforcing this growing tax loss issue at my next meeting with the Minister.

“The tech sector is the fastest-growing part of the economy, and cloud-based SAAS companies are the fastest-growing part of the tech sector, creating hundreds of jobs, so we should be doing everything we can to keep these companies in New Zealand,” Muller said.