Up & Coming Companies
This section of the report aims to recognise and acknowledge other companies already making their mark through world-beating ideas and a dedication to innovation, research and development — qualities akin to those possessed by companies chosen for The Sir Paul Callaghan 100 Report. We believe their achievements so far have set them well on the way to becoming fully-fledged members of the 100 in the coming years.
Formed in 2012, Ārepa worked with The FoodBowl, a Callaghan Innovation facility in Auckland, and a world-leading neuroscientist to develop its first product – a natural, caffeine-free brain drink comprising blackcurrants, pine bark and L-theanine. The team developed numerous prototypes and then put the finished version through a clinical study proving its effectiveness before launching. Since 2012, Ārepa has been involved in a further nine clinical studies investigating a wide range of brain health benefits, including a significant dementia study in Australia.
Ārepa has attracted some high-profile investors – the latest being Kiwi basketball star Steven Adams. The new funding will help accelerate global expansion. The company’s products are stocked in supermarkets and grocery chains across New Zealand, Australia and Singapore.
Endless sore throats as a child prompted Dunedin-based microbiologist John Tagg to research a preventive solution that was to become the world’s first probiotic for oral health. While probiotics are well known for supporting gut health, they are less known for their role in defending against bad bacteria in the mouth. Tagg’s research led to the discovery of a probiotic that prevents strep throat by inhibiting the growth of those bad bacteria.
Blis Technologies launched its first product in 2002 and has worked closely with Callaghan Innovation scientists throughout its development. Blis Technologies is listed on the New Zealand Stock Exchange and posted revenue for the first half of Financial Year 2023 at $2.3 million, up 29 percent on the same period last year.
Blis Technologies has a range of products on the market for teeth, gums and oral health care and has also diversified into offering probiotics for skin health, again assisted by Callaghan Innovation.
CetogenixCetogenix is a climate-tech startup developing technologies that enable the transition from fossil resources to genuinely renewable resources. Its focus is converting the billions of tonnes of organic waste produced worldwide every year into renewable energy, nutrients and materials, using an innovative combination of hydrothermal oxidation and novel mixed-microbial biotechnology.
Waste processing plants using the Cetogenix technology will be able to handle a wide range of wastes from agriculture, food production, sewage treatment and industrial manufacturing. They will deliver economic, environmental and social benefits by tackling global decarbonisation and climate-change mitigation challenges.
Cetogenix leverages significant IP from a substantial R&D programme, backed by Callaghan Innovation. The agency’s support includes three R&D grants, engagement with a Creative HQ accelerator, access to the Research & Development Tax Incentive, and commercialisation training through its Beyond IP and Scale for Global Growth products.
Dotterel TechnologiesDotterel Technologies is a global leader in enabling audio in high-noise environments and specialises in developing unique microphone array technologies – such as the Konos microphone.
Konos is a next-generation microphone that changes how we capture and use sound, opening up new possibilities in multiple sectors – including entertainment, public safety and security. Capturing highly intelligible audio in challenging environments has always been a tough job, with existing microphone technology constraining how we listen and communicate. Konos changes that. The compact 80-element high-fidelity microphone array with adjustable directivity, front and rear capture, and real-time noise filtering makes it possible to capture clear sound in the most challenging sonic conditions.
Dotterel Technologies’ success can be attributed in part to the support it has received from various organisations including Callaghan Innovation. The company has received assistance including grant funding, and accessed guidance and resources through the Research and Development Solutions (RDS) team.
Overall, the combination of Dotterel Technologies' innovative technology and the support it has received enables the company to continue driving innovation in sound capture.
GEO40Geo40 sustainably recovers strategically important minerals from fluids. The company has developed technologies to recover silica and boron from hot geothermal fluids at two silica plants near Taupō and sells low-carbon, high-quality natural silica nanoparticles globally. Geo40 has also developed technology for lithium recovery from hot and cold fluids. The company sees mineral recovery from fluids as a highly sustainable alternative to hard rock mining.
Callaghan Innovation grants have helped Geo40 on its development journey, particularly as it has moved from laboratory to pilot- and demonstration-scale plants.
Geo40’s low-carbon silica products are being used in a wide range of applications, from cementitious admixtures to precision investment casting to soil grouting. In many applications, Geo40’s low-carbon silica can replace unsustainable synthetic alternatives. Geo40’s silica recovery technology is also a key enabling technology for geothermal power generators.
Operating in partnership with the Ngāti Tahu Tribal Lands Trust on Māori-owned land, and backed by Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Geo40 embraces its role as kaitiaki or a guardian of the environment.
Helius TherapeuticsHelius Therapeutics is a medicines company. It fills a crucial global health gap by commercialising medicinal cannabis products for individuals underserved by conventional pharmaceutical approaches. While its prescription products are readily available for New Zealand patients, Helius Therapeutics has also signed export contracts to distribute these medicines around the world.
Since its inception in 2018, Helius Therapeutics has partnered with Callaghan Innovation, initially working together to develop an industry roadmap. The collaboration extends to a $2.4 million R&D project encompassing cultivation and the formulation of new medicines. Furthermore, Callaghan Innovation has enabled the sponsoring of PhD students developing next-generation cannabinoid products, provided intellectual property training and given industry experience via both Experience and Career Grants.
As the international medicinal cannabis industry is projected to surpass NZ$60 billion by 2025, Helius Therapeutics holds a distinctive position as one of the few European Good Manufacturing Process-certified (EU-GMP), vertically integrated medicinal cannabis facilities worldwide. This positions it as a potential global leader in this evolving industry.
HnryTaking the pain – and time – out of sole trader tax has proved a winning formula for Wellington digital accountancy firm Hnry. This year the company, founded in 2017 by James and Claire Fuller, is in a growth phase, following a successful $35 million capital raise.
The plan is to double staff numbers to 150 and pursue new opportunities across Australasia.
Hnry provides an app-based tax compliance system for sole traders that substantially cuts down the time, money and stress of financial administration. The service automatically calculates and pays taxes, becomes its customers’ accountant, and provides a platform to manage tax admin like generating invoices and raising expenses.
Callaghan Innovation has assisted Hnry through its project grants and Founder and Startup Support Programme, which seeks to grow the next generation of innovators.
In the past 12 months Hnry has tripled its revenue and the company is setting its sights on expanding globally as it continues to add new products and services over the next year.
ImmersveImmersve’s offering will be seen as a hallelujah moment for many in the Web3 and crypto sectors. A major stumbling block in widespread adoption of cryptocurrencies has been the difficulty in using them as most people expect to be able to use currency – to buy things in real life.
Through a partnership with Mastercard, Immersive has developed what’s been billed as the world’s most decentralised card, which makes it possible for people to pay with their cryptocurrency anywhere Mastercard is accepted. The ability to track transactions on blockchain (a crypto benefit) allied with real-world use of funds is a gamechanger on a societal level; Immersve’s world-first approach means that users retain full control of their digital currency, while also benefiting from the Mastercard network’s consumer protections.
Immersve has been funded by Callaghan Innovation through R&D Experience Grants, and has also received support through the agency’s Strategy Design and Beyond IP products.
LanacoFounded in 2011, Auckland company Lanaco had a stratospheric rise last year when its wool filters blasted into space and around the moon aboard a NASA spacecraft.
Lanaco uses wool from Kiwi sheep to manufacture high-performance, air filter products used in appliances, electronics, and industrial and respiratory ventilation. The company has been on NASA’s radar since 2017 because Lanaco’s wool technology has the capability to protect astronauts in case of fire on board.
The same technology is beginning to be supplied by Lanaco for critical equipment and consumer applications worldwide – from cars to home air purifiers. The company’s development has been bolstered by a range of Callaghan Innovation initiatives, including its Innovation IP programme (which gives Kiwi businesses the capability and confidence to leverage their IP), the Founder & Startup Support Programme and a range of Project Grants.
The company is responding to strong interest for the technology from manufacturers in Europe and the United States, accelerated by an increasing demand for the sustainability credentials of its products.
Leaft FoodsLeaft Foods is committed to transforming the environmental impact of food production through innovative approaches to farming and protein production.
It produces Rubisco protein directly from leafy crops, like lucerne, resulting in significantly lower carbon emissions compared to conventional dairy protein production. Its exclusive food-safe technology creates highly digestible plant protein, while addressing the challenges of sourcing sufficient protein from green leaves.
Callaghan Innovation has been involved with Leaft Foods since day one and continues to support the company today – from helping with its initial R&D concept, through to prototyping and scaling up with the help from RDS teams in Wellington and Christchurch.
Leaft Foods recognises that most greenhouse gas emissions in the food industry originate from on-farm activities, highlighting a need for more sustainable farming practices. It empowers farmers to diversify land use by incorporating plant protein production, providing practical solutions for reducing the industry's environmental footprint.
PartlyPartly picked a challenging data problem to tackle by focusing on the hugely fragmented, minimally digitised automotive parts sector. The automotive industry requires hundreds of millions of different parts for millions of different vehicle configurations across manufacturers and models, and the systems for connecting parts with vehicles are mostly manual or paper-based.
Partly's elegant solutions connect buyers and sellers in the $1.9 trillion worldwide automotive parts ecosystem, and its technology is used in 20 countries. The importance of the problem the company is solving is reflected in the calibre of investor it has attracted. Dylan Field, co-founder and CEO of Figma, sees Partly becoming a global category leader, and the company has also received backing from the founder of a Sir Paul Callaghan 100 company, Rocket Lab’s Peter Beck.
Callaghan Innovation also supported Partly through its Te Ōhaka programme, R&D grants, and a Founder and Startup Support Programme via Icehouse Ventures.
Pyper VisionEvery year across the world thousands of flights are cancelled, diverted or delayed and millions of passengers are left frustrated because of fog. Now thanks to Pyper Vision’s world-first technology, fog-related flight disruptions could be a thing of the past.
With its intelligent fog-dispersal system, Pyper Vision is taking air transport into a more resilient future by creating and sustaining safe levels of visibility over airports so flights can be cleared for take-off and landing as scheduled.
Pyper Vision has worked closely in partnership with Callaghan Innovation at various stages throughout its development, including through programmes such as Innovation IP, the Founder and Startup Support Programme via Icehouse Ventures, and six projects with Callaghan Innovation's RDS teams.
With support and partnership from Callaghan Innovation, Pyper Vision created an early prototype dispersal system. The fast development cycle accelerated its entry to in-market trials by six months and supported the company to secure large-scale investment. Now a team of nine (and growing) working with New Zealand regulatory agencies, government and business, Pyper Vision is a home-grown company set to make a difference globally.
Robotics PlusIn the heart of one of New Zealand’s largest horticulture regions is a company developing technologies that aim to alleviate labour shortages and reduce menial and repetitive tasks.
Tauranga-based Robotics Plus has developed a robotic fruit packer that packs apples into display trays, and the world’s first robotic log scaler that measures export logs on trucks and trains. Most recently it showcased an Unmanned Ground Vehicle to potential US customers that can carry out a range of orchard and vineyard jobs such as spraying, mulching and crop analysis. Already working in local vineyards, the vehicle has proven to increase productivity and lower operating costs.
Robotics Plus, has won a number of awards for technological innovation, and has benefited from a range of Callaghan Innovation support, including intellectual property advice and growth grants.
Founded by Steve Saunders and Alistair Scarfe, the company prides itself on providing technological solutions that deliver real value for farmers as well as a good return on investment.
Scentian BioIn an unprecedented example of taking inspiration from what nature does best and harnessing it using technology, Scentian Bio has put insects’ incredible smell receptors to work for humans.
All living things produce volatile organic compounds that contain information about their state – if you know how to read it. Through 400 million years of evolution, insects have developed smell receptors to do just that, with a sense of smell that is a million times more sensitive than a human nose. Scentian Bio’s research into combining insect odorant receptors with electronics could lead to revolutionary, world-beating sensor technology, creating remarkable new abilities for humankind.
Scentian Bio received funding for its research from Callaghan Innovation, along with market validation support. The potential benefits of its work are already causing a stir, and the company has recently received a $2.7 million grant to develop a biosensor that will detect human diseases like TB and malaria.
SharesiesMention Sharesies to most New Zealanders, and they’ll nod in recognition. It’s a mark of how far the company has come since 2017, when the initial conversations that led to Sharesies took place. A wealth-development platform based around the insight that not everyone wanted, or was able to invest huge amounts of money, Sharesies aims to empower people by giving them the same opportunities regardless of whether they have $5 or $5 million to invest.
Sharesies’ vision meant tackling accessibility by building an online investment platform and helping newbies feel more confident about investing by making education an integral part of its platform.
The company’s six co-founders received support from Callaghan Innovation, amongst others, on their journey to creating financial empowerment for everyone. The agency provided Project and Experience Grants as well as tax credits for research and development through the RDTI scheme.
TechionGreg Mirams’ farming roots led him to pioneer FECPAKG2 – a world-first online integrated digital diagnostic platform for the livestock industry. FECPAKG2 provides real-time, Point of Care (POC) parasite diagnostic information, which empowers farmers, veterinarians and advisors to make informed decisions about animal health. FECPAKG2 is supported by Techion’s digital microscopy platform. This involves an image-capture device taking a series of images of a sample, which are then sent to the cloud for either AI or technician analysis and the results reported to decision makers and advisors. It can be used in the field, laboratory or clinic.
Techion has worked with Callaghan Innovation’s RDS team, benefited from the Innovation IP programme and received several grants. Today it’s a global company branching out into human health and environmental diagnostic testing where there is growing demand for real-time POC diagnostics. The versatility of Techion’s technology means a wide range of tests can be performed using the same image-capture device (with a range of cassettes). Techion’s database also enables live disease status reporting and big data mining. The company is a Microsoft partner and has an international partner network including UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
TMCMerino wool is an exceptional material for high-performance apparel that regulates heat, moisture and odour. However, traditional methods of producing yarn from merino twist out much of these natural performance properties.
This insight led TMC to develop Nuyarn® — a revolutionary twist-free spinning technology that creates a yarn that is lighter and more durable than traditional merino. The technology marks significant progress in sustainable manufacturing; it requires less energy, uses fewer materials, and produces an incredibly durable final product that outperforms synthetics.
TMC developed its world-beating Herculan® yarn using Nuyarn® technology, and with some assistance from Callaghan Innovation. The agency’s support included skills training, Project Grants and access to scientific expertise through its Research & Development Solutions (RDS) team.
Herculan® surpasses synthetic fibres for durability and abrasion resistance, and its invention earned TMC a place on Fast Company’s prestigious list of the world’s most innovative companies.
Vertus EnergyVertus Energy is making a name for itself in the cleantech sector with innovative technologies that are revolutionising the way the world transforms waste into clean energy. Vertus Energy’s solutions have been developed over five years and are backed by over 10 years of research into microbial behaviour.
The company’s BRIO technology increases the efficiency of conventional anaerobic digesters by a factor of three and delivers biogas with 60 percent more energy potential than previously available. This biogas can then be ‘upgraded’ into bio-methane by the company's second innovation – BODA carbon sequestration and conversion technology. BODA can also be used to ‘eat’ raw carbon dioxide and convert it to Renewable Natural Gas.
Alongside receiving funding from Icehouse Ventures, Outset Ventures and others, Vertus Energy has also been supported by Callaghan Innovation. The agency’s RDS team helped with scientific and technical expertise around anaerobic digestion, and Vertus Energy has also taken advantage of Callaghan Innovation’s R&D roadmapping and other products.