Commercialisation of ‘Hot Lime’ From Publicly Funded Research to Help Feed the World
Hot Lime Labs has successfully raised its first round of early stage investment to develop its new greenhouse CO2
capture technology for the global market. The investment round led by Powerhouse, with nearly a dozen co-investors
including the Flying Kiwi Angels, will allow the completion of technical development and then a pilot Hot Lime system to
be built inside a commercial greenhouse to prove the technology at scale.
Hot Lime Labs technology can recover clean CO2 from the burning of waste organic material and then allow this clean and
concentrated CO2 to be released into the greenhouse to improve crop yields by around 20%. This will help greenhouse
growers to operate at optimal yields, and increase food production while simultaneously cutting environmental harm by
using a renewable source of clean CO2.
Dr Vlatko Materić, founder and CEO of Hot Lime Labs says, “This is exciting news for the team. We still have a long
journey ahead but with the help of our investors and Board we aim to build a successful global business based in
Wellington. We’ve already generated a lot of market interest and identified a number of potential early adopters for the
Dr Materić says the technology has the potential to increase grower’s revenues by $40-80k per annum per hectare compared
to using other sources such as natural gas or liquid CO2. The global market opportunity for the technology is estimated
at over $800m per annum and is growing rapidly.
The investment milestone follows Dr Materić’s award from the KiwiNet Emerging Innovator Programme last year to develop a
proof of concept for the technology. He received $25,000 funding and support to develop the technology and his
capability and understanding of commercialisation, due to substantial donations from the Norman F. B. Barry Foundation
which is helping 15 researchers take clever ideas to market.
According to Dr Materić, the KiwiNet Emerging Innovator Programme was the critical step to move his research project
from the academic arena to a value creating business.
“Without the KiwiNet programme I wouldn’t have been able to turn my research idea into a commercial venture. The initial
funding, guidance and credibility the award gave me was critical. It’s always hardest to find the first person to step
up and stand by you. I now have an experienced group of people wrapped around the venture along with the funding
required to ensure the best chance of success.”
Dr James Hutchinson, CEO of KiwiNet says, “Vlatko’s success really demonstrates how the commercialisation ecosystem can
work together to give Kiwi technology the best chance of success through small levels of funding in a highly focused and
supported way. The initial support for Vlatko through the Emerging Innovator programme, led to a further $95,000 of
funding from the KiwiNet PreSeed Accelerator Fund. This, alongside the ongoing development, mentoring and connections
that KiwiNet and its investment committee was able to provide has led to today’s investment round.”
Andy Matheson, Chief Investment Officer, Powerhouse says, “We’re really excited about the potential of Hot Lime Labs.
The investment will allow the venture to achieve some critical de-risking milestones around proof of the technology. It
will also allow the company to further build its management and technical team as the company progresses.”
Rudi Bublitz, Co-Founder and "Chief Cat Herder" of Flying Kiwi Angels says, “This investment is an exciting first for
Flying Kiwi Angels in that it is much earlier stage than we would typically invest in technology of this kind. The
commercialisation network helped de-risk the early development and our diligence team gave a strong positive investment
recommendation after weighing up the overall risks and returns of this proposition. The enthusiasm of KiwiNet was also
infectious. We are founder-focused in all our investments, and Vlatko’s commercial acumen and people skills, along with
the strong board he has assembled, gave us confidence that this business has a good chance of success.”
Hot Lime will allow growers to apply CO2 enrichment in situations where otherwise it has been impossible or
uneconomical. Current options such as natural gas are limited in terms of geographical availability and cost. Growers
will be able to either purchase the system outright, or pay per tonne of CO2 generated at a significantly lower rate
than any other option.
Chair of KiwiNet’s Investment Committee Andrew Turnbull aided the investment process. “Vlatko has all the key elements
in place - staff, designs, patents, partners, networks of advisors, and now investment. These deep tech ventures that
come from our publicly funded research are complex, high risk investments and contrary to popular belief are not sitting
on a shelf just waiting for investors to come along. There is a huge amount of time and effort required to get them from
a research project into a shape so that they are investable. New Zealand has an exciting and vibrant, albeit nascent,
ecosystem that can work together to increase the success rate of these ventures.”
The KiwiNet Emerging Innovator Programme is available to early-career researchers based at universities and Crown
Research Institutes across New Zealand. The programme is designed to boost research with a commercial application at a
critical time. It also enables researchers to partner with a business and refine their project for market. Recipients
also receive expert legal advice from KiwiNet (www.kiwinet.org.nz
) corporate partners, MinterEllisonRuddWatts and IP advice from Baldwins.
John Smith, Chairman of the Norman F. B. Barry Foundation which owns the Quality Hotel Parnell Limited says, “One of our
goals at the Foundation is to invest in areas that will have a long-term impact for the benefit of New Zealand, so we’re
very pleased to support the KiwiNet Emerging Innovators.”
Dr Materić was one of eleven KiwiNet Emerging Innovators acknowledged at a graduation ceremony at the Quality Hotel
Parnell on Monday night.
About KiwiNet Emerging Innovator Programme
The KiwiNet Emerging Innovator Programme was established in 2015 by KiwiNet with the generous philanthropic support of
the Norman F. B. Barry Foundation. The aim of the Emerging Innovator Programme is to have more scientists with
disruptive new ideas working alongside businesses to solve industry challenges. It is open to scientists from public
research organisation who demonstrate a clever new idea and a willingness to work closely with industry as they develop
a prototype. The KiwiNet Emerging Innovator Programme is available to early career researchers based at universities and
Crown Research Institutes across New Zealand.
About the Kiwi Innovation Network (KiwiNet)
The Kiwi Innovation Network (KiwiNet) comprises universities and Crown Research Institutes and agencies working together
to increase the scale and impact of scientific and technology based innovation in New Zealand. Since its inception,
KiwiNet has demonstrated the power of bringing together diverse players across New Zealand’s science and innovation
ecosystem to work towards a collective vision. KiwiNet partners work towards a globally-competitive technology sector
that delivers significant economic growth and prosperity. KiwiNet focuses on building national capability and scale in
commercialisation. It fills the gap between public research organisations and the private sector, bringing together
research organisations acting as a focal point for collaboration and co-ordination. Together they are progressing
scientific discoveries with commercial promise to a point where they can be taken on by the private sector, achieving
greater commercial outcomes for New Zealand. KiwiNet partner organisations include WaikatoLink, Plant & Food Research, Otago Innovation Ltd, Lincoln University, AUT Enterprises, AgResearch, University of Canterbury,
Callaghan Innovation, Viclink, Landcare Research, Cawthron Institute, ESR, NIWA, Scion, GNS Science and Malaghan
Institute. Principal support is also provided by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE).
About the Norman F. B. Barry Foundation
The Norman F. B. Barry Foundation, is a charitable trust registered under the Charities Act 2005. Norman Barry was an
entrepreneur and a philanthropist who established the Quality Hotel Parnell. During his successful business career, he
mentored motel owners in Auckland who were new to the industry and helped various charitable organisations in the form
of donations. Norman left his shareholding in Quality Hotel Parnell Limited to the Foundation, and the distributions
from this Company to the Foundation are used for charitable donations. In addition, Quality Hotel Parnell Limited is
also a registered charity in its own right and this company also makes donations to the community.