Marshall Couper is passionate about growing innovative companies. A self-confessed sports addict, social entrepreneur and consummate networker and connector, Marshall is an investment manager at Callaghan Innovation where he advises many of New Zealand’s most innovative and creative businesses on how to become more commercial.
In particular, Marshall looks after connections, referrals, capital raising and partnerships and collaboration. He’ll help put you in contact with people with specific skill sets of interest to your business. He’s also focused on capability-building to make your business innovation-ready, and can point you to a range of programmes, training and workshops to help your business improve performance, eliminate inefficiencies and increase customer satisfaction.
Marshall also advises on R&D and the availability of grants designed to assist businesses, whether they’re a young start-up, established R&D performer or want to bring students on board to assist in R&D activities.
Marshall acknowledges that the grants, which were first developed over 10 years ago, favour traditional R&D and are not really suited to today’s tech environment. But he says that Callaghan Innovation is currently streamlining the process and redefining R&D in the context of digital, IT and software companies. R&D grants on offer include:
- Getting Started Grants: to help a business kick-start R&D
- Project Grants: to help business research and develop a product, process or service
Callaghan funds 40% of the cost. Aimed at first-time R&D companies, it involves a subjective, committee-based application process. Supportive of new technology, including AI, AR, AV, platform scalability, heavy duty security issues, big data analytics, algorithms
- Growth Grants: to help business fund an expanding R&D programme
Objective, no assessments or criteria around R&D but designed to be for technical research; data analysis and integration, rather than product validation, market validation and customer focus groups. Quarterly 20% rebate. Need to show a three-year R&D programme as per IAS38 and provide quarterly management accounts. If at the end of two years, you can show that R&D has been maintained, then you get a further two years on your three-year grant, making a total of five. Need $300,000 annual eligible R&D spend to be eligible.
- Student Grants: to help businesses involve students in R&D. To promote R&D learning in a commercial environment
The first tier of student grants is a $6,400 award to fund a 16-week undergraduate project in the summer break. Grants are given once a year in April/May and students need to be in their last year of study. The application follows an RFP process.
The second tier funds a six-month project for students in their final year of study. This is a one-off award of $30,000 with around 40% of companies topping that amount up. In addition, there are:
R&D Careers Grants: to add a PhD or master’s graduate to an R&D team to stimulate innovation
R&D Fellowship Grants: to solve a challenging R&D problem with PhD or master’s research
In the case of Masters and PhD Fellowships, the student is expected to work a third of their time in the business. There also needs to be someone else in the company with equivalent qualifications so they can mentor them.
We’ll be inviting Marshall to come and chat to Level One residents sometime soon. In the meantime, if you’ve got any questions, go here for starters.