New Zealand seems to have what it takes to crack the cannabis-based medicine mar­ket: the brand, the sci­en­tific skills, the agritech, as well as gen­eral pop­u­lar sup­port for cannabis ther­a­peu­tics. It’s just a case of mak­ing the most of the op­por­tu­nity.

En­ter Helius, the com­pany that sees cannabis as a main­stream prod­uct, con­sumed by main­stream peo­ple – by break­ing down stigma, ap­ply­ing sci­en­tific rigour and the high­est pos­si­ble pro­duc­tion stan­dards, along­side a pur­pose­ful brand.

“Thou­sands of peo­ple in New Zealand are suf­fer­ing with chronic pain, sleep, neu­ro­log­i­cal and gas­troin­testi­nal dis­or­ders and a myr­iad of other de­bil­i­tat­ing ail­ments,” says Helius co-founder and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Paul Man­ning.

“Over 230,000 Ki­wis cur­rently use cannabis reg­u­larly for medic­i­nal pur­poses, pur­chased al­most en­tirely on the black mar­ket. These pa­tients don't know the qual­ity, po­tency or dose of the cannabis they are con­sum­ing, and the pri­mary means of con­sump­tion is smok­ing.”

“Helius will pro­duce high qual­ity, GMP-cer­ti­fied, med­i­cal grade cannabis ther­a­peu­tics that doc­tors and pa­tients can rely on – for the same or less cost than the black mar­ket.”

They’re cer­tainly off to strong start. This year the com­pany raised a cool $15 mil­lion in cap­i­tal from lo­cal in­vestors, led by Kiwi rich-lis­ter and chair­man of Helius, Guy Had­dle­ton. They’ve part­nered with Plant & Food Re­search, ESR, Callaghan In­no­va­tion, as well as MRINZ. They’ve gained one of the first cannabis li­censes in New Zealand and re­cently moved into a new fa­cil­ity in East Ta­maki.

“We've trav­elled the world, tour­ing fa­cil­i­ties in North Amer­ica and Aus­tralia, meet­ing with dozens of the in­dus­try's lead­ers, in­clud­ing re­searcher, sci­en­tists and en­trepreneurs,” says Man­ning, “bring­ing in­sights back to New Zealand where we are fus­ing this ex­pe­ri­ence with our lo­cal in­no­va­tion.”

“Our goal is to launch a world-class, in­te­grated cannabis pro­duc­tion op­er­a­tion in Auck­land, cre­ate a new bil­lion-dol­lar lo­cal econ­omy and take our New Zealand to the world stage, in a $55b global mar­ket­place.”

“Our ob­jec­tive is to be­come recog­nised as lead­ers in our field and dif­fer­en­ti­ated by in­no­vat­ing new and novel cannabi­noid-based ther­a­peu­tics.”

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