Investment Notes #4 – Mint Innovation

We are excited to announce Movac Fund 5’s fourth investment – Mint Innovation. Movac led the $20m Series B round with a $9m commitment and is the fund’s first growth stage investment. This one might come as less of a surprise than our first three deals; we led Mint’s Series A in 2018 after raising directly from our investors. The deal was championed by David Beard, who has been and will continue to be Movac’s Board representative.

Thinking about gold

Will Barker, Ollie Crush and the team at Mint Innovation have developed the world’s first biorefinery enabling the sustainable recovery of precious metals from electronic waste. Over US$80b of valuable metals (think gold, copper, palladium) are discarded to waste each year. Half of this is electronic and automotive waste and the target of Mint’s process.

The disruptive and globally impactful part of the technology is a Mint plant can serve a city of 4-5 million, meaning waste can be processed locally and in an environmentally sensitive way. This upends the e-waste processing market completely when compared to the most common pathways of rich countries sending their waste offshore to be processed by polluting smelters – or dumping it directly into landfill.

Mint’s waste to value vision is a global one. As a technology licence model, the positive environmental impact of the business is highly scalable. Within 15 years we plan to see an e-waste processing plant in every large city in the world, capturing waste supply from local operators, and turning it into something much (much!) more valuable, while being kind to the Earth and creating local economic development.

The round is how big?

Raising a $20m Series B is a big deal in New Zealand. Having been on the Board for two years and had first-hand experience with what Will and Ollie have been doing made the investment case an easy one for us. The investment two years ago was to scale up 100x from a Pilot plant at the Level 2 technology incubator to a Demonstration plant in a dedicated factory. Will and the team met all their milestones with the Series A, with the plant meeting all expectations and even coming in under budget.

This investment is to scale that Demonstration plant by 5x into two Commercial plants; one in Australia and one in the UK. Supply agreements for waste have been signed and sights are being scoped. It’s now down to execution.

Hard-tech is “hard”

The company was spawned from the Level 2 incubator and lab site, and inspired by New Zealand circular economy plays Lanzatech and Avertana. As with other sectors, strong success from early players means that we build our local expertise, which becomes a platform for other companies like Mint to build upon.

As the saying goes, investing in hard-tech is hard and is not a sector traditionally favoured by New Zealand investors. Movac’s view is deep tech is where the true leaps in innovation happen; those that solve the toughest challenges in the real world. This investment continues our track record of hard-tech investments, alongside world-class companies like PowerbyProxi and Aroa Biosurgery.

It’s a team effort

The positive outcomes from a home-soil cleantech company making it to the world stage are broad. It’s an area that aligns particularly strongly with what we want to be known for as a country and as individuals, and is something we should all feel proud about getting behind.

We are thrilled to have Blackbird, Australia’s largest VC, co-invest alongside Movac. The round was also supported by Icehouse Ventures and a large US investor. It is fantastic to have the local venture ecosystem collaborating to secure the larger rounds of capital this type of company needs to thrive.

Most of all, thanks to Will and Ollie for letting us join you (and continue!) on the journey and the Mint team for their outstanding execution – and they’re only just getting started.


David, Jason