A new survey of local startup investment trends by PwC finds a slight dip in the first half of this year, with funding to early-stage companies slipping by 0.5 per cent to $33.56m.
That compares to $35.15m in the first half of calendar 2019, and $35.82m in the first half of 2018.
But PwC partner Anand Reddy described the slight dip as a "resilient" result, given the backdrop of the global pandemic - particularly with investment in software-as-a-service (or "cloud" software) and so-called "deep tech'.
"Deep tech" - suddenly the phrase on everyone's lips in the VC community - now accounts for 25 per cent of startup investment, the report says.
What sort of increase does that represent over last year? PwC couldn't immediately put a figure on that. Part of the issue is that "deep tech" is broad, umbrella term covering breakthrough, research-based or patent-heavy companies.
For PwC's report, the category includes startups "in pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and life sciences, technology hardware and equipment, aerospace and defence, and industrials".
PwC's report covered the half-year to June 30, 2020.
But deep tech has continued to be a hot area. September saw Peter Beck, Sir Stephen Tindall, Icehouse Ventures and others support a new $10m fund from LevelTwo devoted to finding the next LanzaTech or RocketLab - a Kiwi startup creating a whole new product or industry.
The startup investment scene should also be buoyed in the second half by the new $300m Elevate fund, which has been recently making its first investments, matched by New Zealand and Australian private funds.
The Government created Elevate - with $240m from the Super Fund and $60m from the old NZ Venture Investment Fund or NZVIF - to address the "venture capital gap" or paucity in local private venture capital that has seen the flat-to-declining investment over the past three years, as charted by PwC.
September saw Elevate, run by Growth Capital Partners (a retooled NZVIF) put $21.5m into a new fund created by Australia's Blackbird Ventures for NZ investments.
And in mid-October, Elevate put $20m into a new $50m fund created by Auckland-based VC outfit Pacific Channel's "Pacific Channel II" fund.
In keeping with PwC's trend-spotting, Pacific Channel is a "deep tech" specialist.
Its managing director Brent Ogilvie told the Herald that while his company is still waiting for the final $5m to arrive for PCII (and Elevate's funding is conditional on it arriving), the new fund has already made its first two investments.
It has recently made its first two investments.
One is in InsituGen, a sports-doping specialist that has emerged from research at the University of Otago, which is working on a test that can detect any type of steroid.
The other is Orbis Diagnostics, which grew from Auckland University, which is developing a quick-testing device for detecting if someone has Covid-19 antibodies.
The Crown has also kick-started the VC seen via state-owned KiwiSaver provider KiwiWealth, which in late September said it had committed up to $54m to the new Movac 5 fund.
MBIE has help to juice things with its $25m Covid-19 Innovation Acceleration Fund, which over the past few months has seen grants go to a mix of startups and established players with new cutting-edge products.
And local companies have also benefitted from offshore government efforts to back promising technologies in the fight against the pandemic - including the Albany, Auckland-based Ubiquitome, which recently received $3.6m from the US government to develop its rapid-testing technology.
As well as encouraging governments around the world to back early-stage companies, Covid is also one of the factors behind accelerating deep tech cycles, PwC's report says.
"Partnerships are being formed with highly elevated levels of collaboration and new technology is being deployed in months, not years," it says.