New Zealand start-up companies could soon get a leg-up from an Australian venture capital player that has just received backing from the recently launched Elevate NZ Venture Fund.

The Government-backed $300 million Elevate NZ Venture Fund was established in March and has made its first investment, putting $21.5m into Australia's largest venture capital fund manager Blackbird Ventures.

Blackbird will add the money to its New Zealand fund, which is looking to raise up to $60m, which will then be used to invest in New Zealand-founded start-ups seeking series A and B capital.

Murray Gribben, chairman of New Zealand Growth Capital Partners, which runs the Elevate NZ Venture Fund said Blackbird had a strong track record.


"Blackbird has invested already into several New Zealand start-ups, including Sunfed Meats, AskNicely, FreightFish and AO Air, and has a very strong track record in Australia with investments into the likes of Canva, Culture Amp and Zoox."

Gribben said another benefit that Blackbird could bring was the ability to provide follow-up funding through other funds, including a A$500m fund that closed recently.

"This enhances the potential for NZ start-ups to access later stage capital to compete on a global stage."

Gribben said the selection process had been highly competitive and it was also carrying out due diligence on a number of other funds.

"Elevate has up to $300m to allocate, alongside matching private capital, and interest is strong. We hope to announce further investments into more venture capital funds over the coming months."

Samantha Wong, Blackbird partner, said despite Covid-19 it had seen no slow down in the number of high quality Kiwi business founders wanting to raise capital.

"Due to excess demand, we raised the cap on the fund size from $50m to $60m and are delighted to have Elevate as a major backer in our inaugural New Zealand fund."

Elevate was flagged in Budget 2019, when then-Economic Development Minister David Parker said his Government would address a "venture capital gap" by diverting $240m of NZ Super Fund money to a new $300m fund, which would also include $60m from the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund.

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