Supporting Healthtech Success: Callaghan Innovation and Tech Incubators
November 29, 2022

Supporting Healthtech Success: Callaghan Innovation and Tech Incubators

Your Journey

Apart from the HealthTech Activator (HTA), Callaghan Innovation has several products and services that are relevant to healthtech companies looking for support on their journey. In this month’s blog, the HTA team introduces Callaghan Innovation’s wider product portfolio and explores the Tech Incubator programme in greater detail.

The Callaghan Innovation product portfolio

The HealthTech Activator (HTA) is powered by Callaghan Innovation, and the HTA’s website, range of workshops, database search support, and in-depth engagements are available for Aotearoa’s healthtech companies to access for free or for a nominal fee. 

But the HTA is not the only resource available to healthtech companies through Callaghan Innovation. 

The rest of the Callaghan Innovation product portfolio includes a range of services that fit under Innovation Skills, Funding, Connection, and Commercialisation categories. 

The diagram below breaks down the different products, with further information on all of the individual products available on the Callaghan Innovation website.

Examples of Callaghan Innovation products that are relevant to healthtech companies include Beyond IP, which is a co-funding programme for building an intangible asset strategy, and R&D services provided by Callaghan Innovation’s world-class scientists.  

For funding and expertise specifically aimed at startups, one of the key products available is the Tech Incubator programme - with successful startups receiving a minimum of $1 million in funding as a mix of public and private investment. 

It’s a big opportunity for budding healthtech companies - and the rest of this blog will delve into the details and impact of the programme.

The Tech Incubators

Callaghan Innovation’s Tech Incubator programme is designed to support the commercialisation of complex products and technologies through collaboration between the public and private sectors.

Successful applicants receive a minimum of $1 million in funding, made up of $750K in the form of a Repayable Grant from Callaghan Innovation, and a minimum of $250K in private investment.

Callaghan Innovation data has revealed the Tech Incubator programme has been responsible for more than $90 million in investment and the creation of more than 130 jobs in New Zealand. 

The incubators screen complex technologies from universities, Crown Research Institutes, and private sources to select intellectual property that, with the right business capability, has the potential to be a high-value export success.

To be considered for a Repayable Grant, the Tech Incubator will apply to Callaghan Innovation on behalf of the business, providing a business case, project plan, budget, and investment terms. 

Once approved, incubators provide investment and services to their portfolio companies, including market validation, dedicated incubation facilities, business planning and development, and governance and management processes.

MBIE data from 2021 shows the statistics for women in a startup founding team are just 21%, which is consistent internationally. However, within the Tech Incubator programme, 40% of the founding team are women.

The current Callaghan Innovation Tech Incubator partners are Sprout Agritech, WNT Ventures, Brandon Capital, and Bridgewest Ventures. The latter is home to healthtech startup Avasa.

Avasa’s story

Dr Nandoun Abeysekera founded Avasa to develop and commercialise a coupler device for reconnecting microvascular arteries during complex reconstructive operations. 

The Avasa coupler aims to simplify microsurgery and remove the need to manually hand sew tiny vessels - saving up to 35 minutes of operative time and improving patient outcomes. 

Originally supported by the University of Auckland’s Inventor Fund, last year Avasa validated their prototype in an in vivo animal study. The Avasa coupler successfully reconnected a 3mm femoral artery without complications.  

To boost Avasa along its R&D and commercialisation journey, the company is supported by Tech Incubator programme partner Bridgewest Ventures, with over $1 million in funding and wraparound support provided to the startup. Avasa will also have access to Bridgewest’s international network and healthtech sector expertise. 

Avasa isn’t the only healthtech startup supported by Bridgewest Ventures and the other programme partners. Taking all startups joining the programme since 2020, 46% are working on tech with human health applications - a high percentage reflecting the impact and growth potential of health technologies. 

Getting engaged

Researchers, inventors or teams can approach Callaghan Innovation’s Tech Incubator partners directly via their respective websites (linked below) to apply for the programme. From there, the incubator will typically assess suitability. 

Tech Incubator partner websites:

  1. WNT Ventures 
  2. Brandon Capital
  3. Bridgewest Ventures
  4. Sprout Agritech 

To engage with Callaghan Innovation’s wider product portfolio, contact the Callaghan Innovation Navigator team. If you aren’t yet engaged with the Navigators, get in touch with Callaghan Innovation by filling in this form.

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