Assessment of the New Zealand Ecosystem

The international firm Startup Genome has prepared a report for the Council on New Zealand's startup ecosystem.

How do New Zealand startups compare internationally?

The Council has been gathering information about the environment for startups in New Zealand, often called our startup ecosystem.

The assessment included detailed survey responses from over 170 founders, in-person interviews, and analysis of other data sources. It provides useful insights into the strengths of New Zealand's ecosystem, such as the number of startups, the degree of funding they have received, the number of patents held in universities, and Startup Genome's analysis of where global startup sectors are trending. Startup Genome uses its own naming system for these sectors, which does not always align with the way New Zealanders talk about them.

By using a global organisation experienced in analysing startup ecosystems, we can benchmark New Zealand's current and future potential compared to our international peers.

Snapshot of Startup Genome's findings

Startup numbers New Zealand has around 2,400 startups, with 58% in Auckland, 15% in Wellington, and 8% in Christchurch. According to Startup Genome the optimal number of startups per million people is approximately 1,000, which suggests that New Zealand could double its number of startups.
Women founders In New Zealand, around at least a quarter of startup founders are women, which is higher than the global average and what other countries are doing.
Māori representation Nearly 10% of our startups have a Māori founder or co-founder.
Global connectedness Our startups have a global market, with far more customers outside their own country than the global average.
High ambition Our founders are more ambitious than those in many of our peer group ecosystems and believe that they are building a globally competitive product.
Local connections Our founders feel that they can access other founders far more easily than their counterparts in places like Melbourne, Sydney, and Singapore.
Areas for improvement found in the report
Local connectedness Compared to our international peers, our founders do not perform well when it comes to helping each other and making the most of existing connections. This is not about opportunities to pitch or generate sales; it is about asking for support and advice.
Global connectedness Our founders have below-average interactions with people from top ecosystems, and not enough of our founders are targeting global markets first. But many startups in New Zealand have customers in other countries and founders who moved here, which could help them succeed globally right away.
Startup funding Our startups raise less, take longer, and have a higher attrition rate of startups between funding stages than many of our peer group ecosystems at all funding stages but particularly at the seed stage.
Talent We struggle to attract high-level talent, and our startups have fewer experienced software engineers or employees with relevant global growth experience. We also have fewer founders with a technical background compared to our peers.

Next steps

The Council appreciates the valuable insights gained from the ecosystem assessment report and acknowledges that Auckland is a crucial component of New Zealand's thriving startup ecosystem. While the report uses a methodology that suggests focussing on specific sectors, the Council recognises the complexity of these sectors in New Zealand and the importance of supporting unique and successful startups across all regions.

The Council also acknowledges the challenges of collecting data on startups and startup ecosystems and will use the information in the report alongside their own personal experiences, perspectives, and conversations with those working in startup businesses when making their recommendations to Government.

Last updated: 01 August 2023