More examples of New Zealand tech companies going for it.

by The REJIGIT Blog

Rejigit salutes all companies involved in innovative work around the world including the three New Zealand enterprises featuring in this article.

Robotics Plus Ltd is based in Tauranga, New Zealand and was established in 2013 by Steve Saunders who remains a director of the Company along with Dr Alistair Scarfe (PhD in Industrial Automation). 

The Company focuses on solutions to labour shortages via mechanisation, automation, Robotics and sensor technologies for horticulture and other primary industries. Examples of their innovative technologies include an autonomous, kiwifruit harvester and a robotic apple packing cell.

The Company has entered into a joint-venture with Yamaha Motor Co Ltd of Japan for the production of an Unmanned Ground Vehicle which is ideal for a number of agricultural applications including horticultural spraying etc.

The Company’s log scaling equipment is designed to accurately determine the quantity of millable timber within logs on trucks making deliveries to export ports and is currently deployed at eight locations throughout New Zealand.


Recycling contaminated waste water

Aquafortus Technologies Ltd was founded by Daryl Briggs and he is the Company’s CEO. The Company has developed equipment which crystallises and removes the salt content of industrial waste water (proprietary zero liquid discharge technology). 

Aquafortus technology is an innovative non-thermal recovery and crystallisation process for the treatment of waste water which could otherwise only be achieved via thermal evaporation technologies which requires significantly more thermal energy. The process can remove practically any contaminant, especially salts and the technology can very effectively reduce the carbon footprint of fossil fuel industries.

The Company secured a major client, Texas based Petro H20 Recovery via a $60m deal in 2018.

One of the worlds growing environmental problems is dealing with redundant lithium batteries and it is encouraging that Aquafortus Technologies offers a recycling process which eliminates the salt element of lithium batteries in mere minutes and which would otherwise involve a very lengthy process.


Digital People

Greg Evan Cross is the Co-Founder & Chief Executive of Soul Machines Ltd which operates out of bases in New Zealand and San Francisco.

The Company has developed technology which allows for the use of an online digital person to interact with website visitors.

The Company was established in 2016 and has raised US$65m to date.

Investors include European venture capital firm Lakestar which was an early investor in Skype, Spotify, Facebook and Airbnb and the venture capital arm of Salesforce.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recently commissioned Florence, one of Soul Machines digital creations, who provides visitors to the WHO’s website with advice on giving up smoking.

Update: 19 February 2022

Soul Machines has recently raised a further US$70 million (NZ$105m) as demand for digital humans, from “celebrity twins” to artificial customer service reps, continues to grow. The latest round of funding brings total investment in the company to US$135m. New investors include Japanese venture capital firm SoftBank, Cleveland Avenue, Liberty City Ventures and Solasta Ventures.

Co-founder Greg Cross said “we're seeing growth across a wide range of industries; banking, retail, e-commerce, consumer brands and health education.”

The company currently employs more than 200 staff and is set to grow by about 50 per cent as it looked to recruit about another 100 to 150 workers including more in Auckland.

Most of the new hiring would be in Phoenix, Arizona, where Soul Machines has built a second research centre which employs 120 staff.