Three winners announced for 2010 Entrepreneurs' Challenge

18 November 2010

Three companies have shared the spoils of the Entrepreneurs' Challenge for 2010 - a biotechnology developer planning to take on America, a bio-agritech company wanting to build a new plant, and a gourmet yoghurt producer hoping to be a presence in Harrods by Christmas.

The University of Auckland Business School Dean Professor Greg Whittred has tonight announced the winners of the 2010 Challenge - set up with funding from Britain-based expat financier Charles Bidwill last year and facilitated by the Business School - at an awards function in the Owen G Glenn building in Auckland.

Biomatters Ltd, Piako Gourmet Yoghurt and Greentide will share the $1m of funding on offer for the year, after beating more than 100 entrants and seven other finalists. The trio ideally personify the spirit of the Challenge, Professor Whittred says, and have had to battle hard against their competition this year.

"Entrants in 2010 have represented industries as diverse as water management and biotech software, to fashion and food. They have been based across the country, they have been small and large companies, and they have all personified the unique way – recognised throughout the world – that Kiwis view, grasp and celebrate entrepreneurship," he says.

Challenge Investment Committee chairman Brian Hannan says this year's winners are entities recognised and identified as those with substantial promise within their international industries.

"They are aspirational and inspirational, and exactly the type of companies that Charles Bidwill envisaged helping when he donated $3 million towards assisting and interacting with tomorrow’s business leaders and supporting them at a crucial stage of their development."

The winners, in more detail, are:

Piako Gourmet Yoghurt
Winning a share of the funding pot is what Auckland-based food manufacturer Piako Gourmet Yoghurt calls "huge". It means the company is on the cusp of transitioning from a small family business to a more substantial financial contributor to the New Zealand economy. Piako will plow funds into capital expenditure, development and operating costs whilst setting up in the United Kingdom, and hopes to be producing overseas by the end of this year. It will also provide the spring board, momentum and confidence to spur on the implementation of growth plans over the next phase of Piako's existence. The company is hoping its top quality yoghurt will be on shelves at Harrods and Waitrose by Christmas.

Auckland-based bio-agritech company Greentide uses fungi to develop biological pesticides for the horticultural industry. On the company's 2010-11 plans is a new plant which will enable it to expand its production base at a faster rate. Greentide is in the process of building the largest commercial production centre for fungal-based entomopathogens and natural metabolites in the Southern Hemisphere.

A privately-held company with headquarters in New Zealand, Biomatters boasts a highly-skilled board and management team across science, software development and business. The company combines expertise in genetics and bio-informatics software development to create a unique blend of Kiwi ingenuity and global savviness.

This has positioned Biomatters at the forefront of computational biology internationally with its flagship software product Geneious. Having established Geneious as a leading software application used in more than 900 universities and institutes in more than 60 countries across the globe, Biomatters now plans to launch an enterprise version of Geneious later this year to extend its business reach into the pharmaceutical and biotech markets.

To support this major product release, Biomatters is planning to significantly increase its sales and support presence in North America, initially with the opening of a full-time in-market office on the east coast of the USA.