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New Zealand's top startup grants
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Startup friendly initiatives for Aotearoa founders.
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Lists & databases
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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 activities. 

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

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. 

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.

New to R&D Grant 

The Callaghan Innovation New to R&D Grant offers funding and support to help startups develop their capability for long-term R&D for up to a two-year period. 

Criteria

To be eligible, your startup must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Incorporated and registered in New Zealand under the Companies Act 1993; or a Limited Partnership registered in New Zealand under the Limited Partnerships Act 2008; or a Māori Trust or incorporation under the Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993. 
  • Your startup must not have received any government funding for R&D greater than $5,000 on or since 1 July 2019. 
  • Your startup must have spent less than $50,000 in total on R&D over the last 3 years. 
  • You must be able to fund your share of the R&D costs. 

What you can get

The grant has a maximum cap of $400,000, half of which can be spent on R&D and half on Capability Development. 

Find out more about the New to R&D Grant.

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. 

Waka Kotahi Innovation Fund

The Hoe ki angitū – Innovation Fund set up by Waka Kotahi supports the private and non-government sectors to develop and accelerate innovative solutions that help solve transport challenges. 

Criteria

Hoe ki angitū is open to:

  • Startups
  • Iwi
  • Community groups
  • Research institutions 

Applications are assessed on:

  • Innovations: how innovative is the solution?
  • Strategic fit: how does it solve the problem?
  • Feasibility: is the innovation likely to succeed and is it scalable?
    Methodology: is there a clear approach or plan?
  • Te ao Māori alignment: how will the solution benefit Māori?

What you can get

Successful applicants receive funding and other support for 16 weeks to “unlock” and accelerate their innovative proposals. 

The $15m will be allocated over 2 years. There is one funding round per year and each round has a pool of money available for allocation across proposals. 

Find out more about the Waka Kotahi Innovation Fund

Ārohia Innovation Trailblazer Grant

The Ārohia Innovation Trailblazer Grant is a contestable grant to support non-R&D innovation activities not covered by other Government funding initiatives. 

The grant is currently in development and will be targeted at businesses doing pioneering innovation or building platforms that help other innovations within New Zealand. 

Find out more about The Ārohia Innovation Trailblazer Grant.

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.

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