Wellington-based Marama Labs was founded by three physicists in 2019, following a Victoria University research programme. "The science behind our sensors is pretty groundbreaking," says co-founder Dr Brendan Darby. "We're using light to track colour and flavour characteristics from essentially the grape to the bottle. This gives winemakers the best science right when they need it - in the loop between wine producer and wine consumer."
Wineries have told them they are "unlocking new value" since adopting the platform, which combines the ultraviolet-visible (UV-Vis) technology with a cloud-based data-analytics platform, to help wineries control and optimise production processes, save money, and build products and brands that connect with consumer demand, says Brendand. "It's allowing them to respond proactively to the changes in the global wine landscape in ways they just couldn't before."
The new funding - gained from a round co-led by United States-based venture capital firm Quidnet Ventures and New Zealand Growth Capital Partners (NZGCP), with support from several New Zealand investors - will allow Marama Labs to continue to expand its reach to international customers and markets in the US and Europe.
Marcus Henderson, Investment Director of NZGCP, says co-investing alongside the likes of Quidnet Ventures allows global experience and connection opportunities that help foster Kiwi innovation. "We're excited to be backing Marama Labs via our Aspire fund and supporting them on their next phase of growth," he says.
Quidnet Ventures Founder and General Partner Dr Mark Bregman says the New Zealand venture capital firm immediately saw the potential for Marama Labs' technology platform. "I see Marama Labs revolutionising the way winemakers characterise their wine and target the desires of their customers," he says.
"Brendan and the team's vision to transform process control in liquid production systems is both brave and refreshing... Many wine companies rely on the inertia of consumer demand and very traditional prestige brand positioning," he says. "Marama Labs is right on the frontier of the changing models being driven by technology adoption in this market, both on the production and consumer sides, and is fast-tracking the winemaking experience into the digital era. I am excited to be supporting their growth."