New Zealand's top startup grants

Published on
January 4, 2022
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For early-stage startups, grants make it possible to test your ideas, grow and access resources without the need for a war chest of cash.

For Aotearoa founders, there are many startup-friendly initiatives to help start your business and support your research and development initiatives. 

Here’s a list to get you started – any that we’ve missed you can tell us about here. 

Starting your business

Flexi-wage for self-employment

The Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ) Flexi-Wage supports you to start your own business by helping with costs while you get things up and running. 

Criteria

You need to be:

  • Interested in starting a new business, or
  • In the early stages of developing a business, and not able to be self-sufficient.

You’ll also need to provide a business plan so that they can ensure your business idea is viable before they provide assistance. 

What you can get

You can get up to $600 a week for up to 28 weeks, totalling $16,800. 

This money can go towards the costs of setting up your business, whether that’s purchasing equipment or paying your living costs. 

Find out more about the Flexi-wage for self-employment.

Self-employment start up payment

The WINZ Self-employment start up payment helps you cover the essential startup costs. 

Criteria

You need to be:

  • Starting a new business, and
  • Have essential startup costs that you need help with.
What you can get

Depending on your situation, you can get up to $10,000 to help pay for things like:

  • Your first month’s lease and bond
  • Materials for prototyping
  • Legal costs associated with establishing your business

Find out more about the Self-employment start up payment.


Business Training and Advice Grant

The Business Training and Advice Grant gives you access to expert advice on all the nuts and bolts of setting up your business. 

Criteria

You need to be:

  • Planning to start a new business, and
  • Getting help from WINZ to start that business, and
  • Intending to get Flexi-wage self-employment for that business. 
What you can get

Up to $1,000 every 52 week period to pay an expert who’ll help you with things like:

  • Business skills training
  • Developing a business plan
  • Business advice before and when starting your business

Find out more about the Business Training and Advice Grant. 


Capability Development Vouchers 

The Capability Voucher Funding helps you access business training and coaching services. 

Criteria

You need:

  • To have fewer than 50 full-time employees.
  • To be registered for GST in New Zealand. 
  • To demonstrate a desire to innovate and grow. 

You’ll also need to undergo an assessment with a Regional Business Partner who’ll look to understand your business growth opportunities and identify any barriers to achieving them. They’ll also work with you to then put together an action plan. 

What you can get

Vouchers that can be used to pay up to 50% of the cost of services (capped at $5,000 excluding GST) that improve management capabilities, such as:

  • Business planning, systems and sustainability
  • Capital raising
  • Intellectual property

Find out more about the Capability Development Vouchers. 

Soda Seed Grants

Soda Seed Grants provide funding for founders to progress their startup and take it to the next level. 

Criteria

To apply, you must be a New Zealand-based startup that is scalable, may have unique intellectual property and has the potential to be a high-value brand opportunity for NZ. 

What you can get

There are three cash prizes:

  • 1st place: $7,000
  • 2nd place: $2,000
  • 3rd place: $1,000

Beyond financial assistance, you’ll also receive feedback on your idea, and finalists will receive a customised mentoring session. 

Find out more about Soda Seed Grants. 

Research and Development

Getting Started Grants

The Callaghan Innovation Getting Started Grants help you get started with R&D activities.  

Criteria

Your company needs to be incorporated in New Zealand. 

What you can get

This grant funds up to 40% of eligible R&D costs, up to $5,000. The types of activities the grant covers include:

  • Launching R&D activities to create a competitive advantage
  • Accessing technical expertise 
  • Basic prototyping
  • Development of an Intellectual Property strategy
  • Technical feasibility studies

Find out more about the Getting Started Grants. 


R&D Tax Incentive

The Callaghan Innovation R&D Tax Incentive (RDTI) is a government tax scheme that helps you invest more in R&D. 

Criteria

You need to be:

  • Performing a core R&D activity in New Zealand yourself, or through an R&D contractor in New Zealand, and
  • Conducting business through a fixed establishment in New Zealand. 

A core R&D activity must:

What you can get

The RDTI is a 15% tax credit on the money you invest in eligible R&D. There is a minimum R&D Expenditure of $50,000 per year, and it is capped at an expenditure of $120 million per year.  

Find out more about the R&D Tax Incentive.

Student Grants 

The Callaghan Innovation Student Grants are designed to help increase your business’s R&D capability by giving you access to fresh talent in the fields of science, technology, engineering, design and business, at a minimal cost. 

There are three types of Student Grants:

  • R&D Experience Grants: support for your R&D activities from smart and enthusiastic tertiary students during their summer break. 
  • R&D Fellowship Grants: solve a challenging R&D problem in your business with PhD or Masters research. 
  • R&D Career Grants: Bring a PhD or Masters graduate onboard to your R&D team. 
Criteria

Eligibility requirements vary across the three grants. At a minimum, your startup must:

  • Be incorporated in New Zealand
  • Have an active R&D programme i.e. an R&D budget and R&D staff
What you can get
  • R&D Experience Grants: funding of $8,840 (plus GST) for 400 hours of full-time work from a tertiary-level student with relevant skills. 
  • R&D Fellowship Grants: funding support for a PhD or Masters student to undertake a research activity to solve a specific problem for your business. 
  • R&D Career Grants: your business receives the first six months of the student’s annual salary costs up to $30,000 (plus GST) for a Masters graduate (based on an annual salary of $60,000) or $35,000 (plus GST) for a PhD graduate (based on an annual salary of $70,000).

Find out more about the Student Grants by Callaghan Innovation.


Te Pūnaha Hihiko: Vision Mātauranga Capability Fund 

Te Pūnaha Hihiko: Vision Mātauranga Capability Fund invests in developing skilled people and organizations that plan to undertake research that aims to unlock the science and innovation potential of Māori knowledge, resources and people to assist New Zealanders to create a better future.

Funding is available through 2 schemes:

  • Connect Scheme: to build new connections between Māori organisations and the science and innovation system.
  • Placement Scheme: to enhance the development or an individual(s) through placement in a partner organisation.
Criteria

Your proposal must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Be made by a New Zealand based single legal entity that is a Māori organisation, Research organisation or individual researcher. 
  • Be for the activities of either the Connect Scheme or Placement Scheme.
What you can get

Approximately $2.0 million (excluding GST) per year is available to fund successful proposals for the 2 schemes: Connect Scheme and Placement Scheme. 

The work programme term for both Connect and Placement schemes is up to two years.

For a work programme with a project of:

  • Up to 1 year in length, the maximum funding per successful proposal is $150,000 (excluding GST)
  • Between 1 and 2 years length, the maximum funding per successful proposal is $250,000 (excluding GST)

Find out more about the Te Pūnaha Hihiko: Vision Mātauranga Capability Fund. 

Looking for VC funding?

We’d love to hear from you! Our mission is to back the most ambitious and unrelenting founders from New Zealand and Australia right from the start of your journey – pre-seed and beyond!

You can reach out to anyone in our team [first name]@airtree.vc or submit your pitch deck here.