The Accident Compensation Corporation is to launch a new $50 million impact fund that will invest in private companies involved in improving New Zealanders' health, safety and wellbeing, as well as targeting a high investment return.
ACC manages $47 billion worth of investments as a way of funding the payments it makes to those who need support to recover and get back to work after having an accident.
James Miller, ACC's board investment committee chairman, said it wanted to set up the fund because it believed there were investment opportunities that could also help prevent injuries and help people return to work or independence sooner.
"The portfolio will contribute to improving New Zealand's health and safety and an improved balance of benefits, costs, and risks."
George Adams, impact portfolio adviser for ACC, said the introduction of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 had increased the demand for health and safety solutions from employers looking to meet the new regulations.
New Zealand had also seen its worst year for workplace accidents last year, he said.
"We have seen creation of demand because we have had a more active regulator."
Adams, who chairs a range of businesses including carpet manufacturer Cavalier and poultry producer Tegel, said it would look to invest between $2.5 million and $10m in each company it identified.
"We are open on the size of the stake."
Adams said it would take a private equity approach - buying a significant part of the business but not buying it outright.
"We are literally investing in the people."
It would then look to sell out of the investment in three to five years for a profit.
Adams said the fund would target a better financial return than the return it was able to get from investing in publicly listed companies.
It was reasonably open in the types of businesses it would look to invest in but was looking for those involved in reducing harm, reducing claims and liability to ACC, and anything that would help to drive levies lower.
He said there were number of major health issues that needed to be addressed in New Zealand, particularly around mental health and fatigue.
"It's time New Zealand leveraged entrepreneurial enthusiasm to try to address the problems."
It would also consider investing in Australian companies if they could operate in New Zealand, he said.
Any businesses it invested in would not get favourable treatment from ACC itself when it came to recommending who people saw for accident or rehabilitation treatments.
Adams said there very careful rules in place to ensure that did not happen, with complete separation between the investment and claims side of ACC.
While it was a small fund to start with, Adams said he hoped it would grow larger over time.
The new impact portfolio follows on from its the deal it announced last week to partner with CORT community housing to spend $50 million funding the building of 100 new homes in Auckland for families on the public housing waiting list.