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Shanghai Expo opportunity for NZ clean tech

2009. 5 November

by Andrea Deuchrass
( The Shanghai Expo 2010 provides an opportunity for New Zealand’s clean-technology industry, according to The Warehouse founder and angel investor, Stephen Tindall.

Speaking at the New Zealand Private Equity and Venture Capital Association yesterday, Mr Tindall said China was “falling over itself” trying to get into clean-tech including biofuel.

“I have never felt more optimistic about multi million dollar opportunities coming out of New Zealand that could really put us on the map.

“We’ve got to try and grow some substantial businesses. In my experience, the only way to do this is to start at the ground floor, science level.”

Both private and public investment was needed to grow the industry, he said.

Some of Mr Tindall’s K1W1 company investments include Ceclias, Phoyonz, Biovittoria, Icebreaker, PureLo, Woosh, Rakon, Phitek, Neuren, LCT and ZyGEM among others, but he was most optimistic about LanzaTech – the Glenbrook-based, gas-to-liquids company.

It’s proprietary microbe produces ethanol and other high value chemicals from industry off-gas, reformed methane and syngas at a low maintenance cost.

Ethanol was a $36 billion industry with the potential to grow to a $113 billion industry by 2020, he said. Countries like China were also attempting to reduce their CO2 levels and chemicals from steel mills.

LanzaTech’s pilot plant had now achieved commercial viability and aimed to export 100,000 gallons of ethanol into China by 2010. At full capacity, it could deliver 40 million gallons by 2012.

Hindered by lack of clear message?

Investment New Zealand’s head of clean tech Chris Mulcare said the clean economy presented a significant opportunity to transform New Zealand’s economy and the world wanted to engage with us.

But New Zealand was hindered by the lack of a clear message and common, long-term agenda and needed to put authenticity into the 100% Pure, clean and green brand, he said.

“I feel we’ve lost our way a bit. It’s about time we stood up for what we stand for.”

There was potential in renewable transport fuels and chemicals including renewable diesel – distinct from biodiesel, he said and the diesel-reliant Pacific should be New Zealand’s “R&D (research and development) lab.”

Marine energy and clean agriculture were also areas that New Zealand could lead.

Mr Mulcare said New Zealand was not isolated from the world, but disconnected from its markets, and international level venture capital management expertise was needed.

“This is the single biggest opportunity you will ever see. It’s under our noses. Venture capital needs to be creative about how it works with innovators and funds projects,” he told the audience.