Our Team

Our team has global experience in the biotech, healthcare and medical devices industry. We have a highly desired blend of skills in early stage company development, intellectual property commercialisation, global expansion, science, finance and mergers and acquisitions.

Matthew McMahon

Chief Investment Manager

Matthew has twenty years’ experience with high growth industries in New Zealand as advisor, investor, operator and entrepreneur. Highly skilled operator and analyst. Foundation team at NZ’s first venture capital fund, No 8 Ventures. At BioDiscovery NZ Ltd raised $20m US venture finance over 3 years.

Matthew led and oversaw >$10m new investments into some of NZ’s leading innovators and technology companies as Investment Manager at Callaghan Innovation.

At WaikatoLink for 4 1/2 years he led the commercialisation team to identify commercial opportunities at University of Waikato and take them through to commercial development – prototyping, building teams, investment, licence and spin out. He created First Watch from adjacent University tech in cloud data provenance into a 20+ engineer industrial cyber security startup and helped secure two rounds of equity investment and grants.

He loves working with hi tech opportunities and their investment challenges – and working with business owners on strategic challenges, finance, management, and business development.

Michael Innes

Investment Analyst

Michael joined Cure Kids Ventures as an Investment Analyst with early career experience in commercialisation and life-sciences consulting. He wrote his master’s thesis on measuring the social impact of venture capital investments, a topic closely related to his work at CKV. Michael holds a Master of Bioscience Enterprise and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Auckland.

Our Board

Maxine Simmons

Executive Director

Maxine is the Executive Director of Cure Kids Ventures (CKV) and was the founding Chief Executive of CKV. Maxine is an experienced entrepreneur, company leader and director, having been actively involved in start-up and expansion stage private company development in New Zealand for more than 30 years.

Since CKV’s inception in 2008, Maxine has lead investments for CKV into an impressive portfolio of companies with products and services covering medical devices, medications, diagnostics, health information and healthcare delivery systems.

She founded one of New Zealand’s first biotechnology companies, growing that into a significant biotechnology export business as acknowledged by the NZ Biotechnology industry in awarding her a Distinguished New Zealand Biotechnologist Award in 2000.

Among numerous influential roles, she has been the founding director of Industry New Zealand (now New Zealand Trade and Enterprise); a director of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology; Director of Industrial Research Ltd prior to it becoming Callaghan Innovation; Chair of the NZ biotechnology industry organization, NZBIO and represented New Zealand on the APEC Business Advisory Council from 2010 to 2014.

Currently Maxine is on the board of the Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular BioDiscovery, is an advisory board member of the MedTech Core and a director of a number of private companies.

Maxine holds a Master of Science degree in biological sciences from the University of Auckland, is a chartered member of the NZ Institute of Directors and was recently appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to science, particularly biotechnology.

Franceska Banga

Chair of the Board

Franceska is a recognised CEO, Chair and Director who has held board roles on many prominent New Zealand organisations. She brings extensive governance experience, spanning finance, technology and health sectors.

While typically known for her financial and investment expertise, Franceska also has a strong background in health. She originally trained as an occupational therapist where she spent much of her time working in paediatrics. Later, she was appointed as Director of Health at NZ Treasury, overseeing the Health Budget.

As the founding Chief Executive of the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund, Franceska managed $300 million of funds under management, overseeing an investment into a portfolio of 200+ high growth New Zealand companies and catalysing over $2 billion of public and private investment into those companies.

Franceska’s governance experience includes roles as Trustee and Chair of Audit Committee of Fred Hollows Foundation NZ, Director Continuity Capital NZ, Independent of Director Constellation Capital, Chair Fab Group (Caci NZ), Independent Director Frogparking, Future Director appointee, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, Director and Chair of the Audit Committee of Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED).

In 2016 Franceska was made an Officer of the NZ Order of Merit, for services to business and the community.

As Chair of Cure Kids Board, Franceska is committed to helping the organisation address some of the big health issues affecting kiwi children. This includes providing governance to Cure Kids Ventures for the successful commercialisation of research and technologies with the potential to benefit child health.

Howard Moore


Howard has been a Board Member at Cure Kids Ventures since 2008. Howard’s breadth of experience spans multiple industries including venture capital, agritech, foodtech, and biotech. His career is hallmarked by fund raising, technology commercialisation, early stage company development and sales and marketing.

Howard had previously co-founded Tercica, an Auckland based biotech company which he relocated to the US and later went on to float on the NASDAQ.

After returning to New Zealand, Howard took a position as Executive Director of BioPacific Ventures, a $100 million Direct Capital life science fund. Howard is currently CEO of Pictor Limited, a CKV investee company, commercialising a diagnostic testing system.

Howard graduated from Massey University with a Bachelor of Food Technology and maintains an avid interest in improving the profitability of the life science sector.

Frances Benge


Frances is CEO of Cure Kids. She has been a Director at Cure Kids Ventures since 2017. Frances has experience in fund raising, portfolio management, business planning, and sales & marketing from over 30 years within the pharmaceutical and fund raising industry. Frances is also highly passionate about the health and well-being of communities, which is an aptitude she garnered from working within Cure Kids and from being a former nurse.

Prior to her appointment as Cure Kids’ CEO in 2015, Frances was Pfizer’s Global Innovative Brand Lead in Hong Kong where she managed Pfizer’s global product portfolio across Asia Pacific markets. She was awarded Pfizer’s great manager award as a result of her services. Frances has also held leading roles in Roche and Eli Lilly Pharmaceuticals.

Frances received the Trevor Eagles Memorial Award for AMCHAM Member of the Year and has been a finalist of the Women on Board Awards.

Frances holds a Graduate Diploma in Business from Massey University and has completed a Strategic Leadership programme from Macquarie Graduate School of Management. She also holds a Diploma in Business and Nursing from Wellington Polytechnic.

Matthew Payton

Matthew has spent more than 20 years in the global medical device industry. Over that time he has held a variety of roles in research and development, commercialisation and general management, including eight years in the senior leadership team at Fisher & Paykel Healthcare.

He remains passionate about science and commercialising it to positively impact society. Previously he has been involved in research on nenonatal care and in adult patients with chronic lung conditions. His current research interests include improvements to anaesthetic techniques for both children and adults.

He is a current board member of Ossis Orthopaedics and a member of the TiTenz industry advisory panel.

Matthew holds a masters degree in physics and a post graduate diploma in business administration from the University of Auckland. He is a member of the New Zealand Institute of Directors.

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