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Christchurch Firms Get Big Boost From Government Innovation Grants

Dawn Aerospace and Leaft Foods have been recognised for their world-leading innovation by being awarded Ārohia Innovation Trailblazer Full Grants.

The grants, awarded by the Government's innovation enabling agency Callaghan Innovation to eight recipients in total, are aimed at supporting ambitious businesses to take world-leading innovation to market.

Ōtautahi Christchurch is proud to be home to both Dawn Aerospace and Leaft Foods who have benefited from the connected and supportive regional ecosystem.

Dianna Rhodes Head of Business Growth and Innovation at ChristchurchNZ said Dawn Aerospace and Leaft Foods were impressive businesses with huge opportunity ahead of them.


Dianna Rhodes

It’s been fantastic to see Dawn and Leaft recognised for their innovation, both businesses have been deeply involved in the R&D process and are set to capitalise on a huge global market in their respective sectors. The Christchurch economy is also set to benefit from their success in terms of high-value job growth and increased investment."

Dianna Rhodes Head of Business Growth and Innovation at ChristchurchNZ

“Sustainability has been a key part of Christchurch’s innovation ecosystem, it’s no coincidence that both these businesses have a strong focus on renewable, low-footprint technology – it makes sense from a consumer, economic and ROI perspective,” said Rhodes.

Find out more about the two businesses and what they plan to do with the grants:

Leaft Foods: Low-carbon, high-value leaf protein

Leaft Foods is a purpose-driven company capturing one of the most abundant and sustainable food sources on the planet – Rubisco. Rubisco is the protein found in green leaves and is a highly nutritious and digestible protein, with a significantly lower carbon footprint than animal protein and contains no known allergens.

Leaft Foods will use the funding to help commercialise their technology. This will include customer research, solution design, building sales capability, promotion and building of product prototypes. As a novel food, they will also be using funding to help safeguard their IP and ensure compliance with their target markets.

Leaft Foods Co Founders: Maury Leyland Penno & Dr John Penno

“Leaft’s mission is to reduce the environmental impact of our food production systems. We are thrilled and honoured to be recipients of the Ārohia grant, which has come at a perfect time for us, supporting our go-to-market activities as we prepare to launch our Leaf protein products. This is a big milestone for us in our journey to create a new value chain delivering low impact and high value protein products into global markets from Canterbury.”

Chris Simcock, Chief Financial Officer, Leaft Foods

Dawn Aerospace: Sustainable and scalable access to space and beyond

Dawn Aerospace are a key player in Canterbury’s burgeoning aerospace industry. Their technology will enable the next generation of space users by providing more sustainable and scalable ways to access and move around in orbit. Dawn Aerospace are building an end-to-end network to transport hardware from Earth to space and are a leading supplier of turnkey, green-propulsion systems for satellites, and utilise safe, accessible propellants.


Stefan Powell CEO and CTO at Dawn Aerospace

"We are thrilled to be recognized as an Ārohia Trailblazer. The support from Callaghan Innovation will go a long way in helping us bring our sustainable space transportation network to market, which we hope will, in turn, encourage further aerospace innovation in New Zealand.”

Stefan Powell, Dawn Aerospace Co-founder, CEO and CTO

Congratulations to all the Callaghan Innovation Ārohia Innovation Trailblazer Grant recipients – you can read more about all of them on the Callaghan Innovation website.