UniServices invests US$2 million into Soul Machines

UniServices has followed Mercedes Benz’s investment into Soul Machines with its own commitment of US$2 million to a US$15 million-plus funding round announced recently by the company.

UniServices, a division of the University of Auckland, owns 15 per cent of Soul Machines, and made the investment through its $20 million University of Auckland Inventors Fund.

Soul Machines was spun out of the University of Auckland in July 2016 with a series A investment round by some of the world’s leading AI investors.

“Soul Machines is exactly the kind of company that the Inventors Fund is designed to support. It has world leading, deeply transformative IP, with a long term vision that will require patient capital to, potentially, deliver superior returns in the long run. The Inventors Fund demonstrates that the University of Auckland is prepared to back its own technology,” says Andy Shenk, CEO of UniServices.

“New Zealand needs more technology companies based on deep research and Intellectual property. The University of Auckland and UniServices are making a massive contribution to developing the ecosystem required to create more companies like us,” says Greg Cross, chief business officer of Soul Machines.

Greg Cross

The University of Auckland Inventors Fund was formed in 2016, with capital provided from UniServices’ retained earnings from its commercialisation business.

Designed to fill a gap in the market for very early-stage capital in deep-tech IP based businesses, and to foster academic and student entrepreneurship, the Fund is typically the first investor in University-derived startups.

It works with local and global investors, including Horizon Ventures, Brandon Capital and the IP Group, that collectively have over $1 billion of capital.

The Fund is designed to create more “stickiness” of startups to the local economy and ecosystem and to develop more home-grown entrepreneurial, product development, startup management and startup governance talent.

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