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Design Thinking expands primary sector success for Anagenix

Starting out in the primary sector


Anagenix began operating in 2010. The aim was to be a producer of branded ingredients for global nutraceutical, and food and beverage companies. The company started like most others in the primary sector, with a plan, capital, some science and highly skilled and motivated people. Anagenix gained early success, sales, distributions, new investors, high growth, and market relationships. The thinking was to develop innovative bioactive products from New Zealand horticultural and marine resources.  

The company’s two founders came from diverse backgrounds, one with a science and formulation background, and the other, Johnsco Investment, with experience of building technology companies for niche global markets. Peter Fennessy then joined as chair, and in 2010, the founders invited in new investors. Aiming to attract Māori as partners, they joined with Fomana Capital, a boutique Māori investment company. Anagenix is solely export-focused. 

Anagenix developed and trademarked two branded ingredients; ACTAZIN and ApuraGreen, both derived from New Zealand green kiwifruit. ACTAZIN, a powdered ingredient for digestive support and laxation, being a prebiotic that also contains a unique combination of kiwifruit nutrients and bioactives. ApuraGreen is a paste designed for baking and food preparation with three platforms: Reduction of salt, sugar and fat; Enhancement of shelf life and flavours; and Prebiotic supporting gut microbiota.


The company achieved good sales focusing on business to business. A clinical trial was undertaken with ACTAZIN and a gold kiwifruit ingredient called LIVAuX. The result was published and provided scientific substantiation of the products.

Transition from product innovation to innovating to meeting peoples needs

After five years in market and with a deeper understanding of consumer insights, the company became aware that there were emerging risks with its current business model. The board asked one question, which fundamentally changed our attitude. “What is important to people when it comes to healthy living and nutrition?” This question and the subsequent design thinking that followed saw a strategic shift. The company went from product innovation to innovating to meet people's needs.

Food health relationship - growth of gut health awareness


Anagenix became aware of the growing investment in gut health and the food-health relationship and the convergence of pharmaceuticals and nutrition. Three directors, Peter Fennessy, Chris Johnson and Wayne Mulligan, decided to fundamentally turn the company on its head. Anagenix is now a group with the core business of designing and developing nutraceutical, nutritional products and IP. It has positioned itself in the gut health and dietary intervention health benefit spaces, with a focus on NZ bioactives. 

"Anagenix’s journey has shifted from a focus on products to people. We are a group that integrates a design approach through insights with fast prototyping in-market. We incubate ideas and commercialise, we secure IP and match the demand for relevant in-market information with information about potential ingredients from New Zealand," says Chris Johnson, Group Managing Director.

Design Thinking – a model applied by Anagenix


A key foundation of the change has been the recognition of the need for greater consumer insights and understanding where Anagenix needs to be positioned in the market. All staff participated in design thinking courses, the executive team attended the Queenstown Agribusiness events (using the Harvard Case Study approach), the Executive Director attended the 2014 Stanford Bootcamp, and in 2015 there was a SAP design thinking program through Te Hono.


Wayne Mulligan views Iti-Nui as niche action: small and strategic actions that compound. These small (Iti) compounding actions enable niche participation in large and complex markets (Nui).

Anagenix's success

  • A clinical trial of ACTAZIN - LIVAuX has been completed with statistically significant results achieved and published in a peer reviewed journal.

  • ACTAZIN has been verified as non-GMO by the global body The NON-GMO Project.

  • Now selling four digestive kiwifruit products and associated IP.

  • Rated 53rd fastest growth technology company in Asia-Pacific 2014 and ranked 6th in New Zealand in the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 report.

  • Influenced by innovations and radically changing the mindset of staff.​

  • Anagenix has gone from one global distributor to six regional distributors.

  • Included in the NZTE International Growth program, Better by Design and Fresh Thinking.

  • Creating Anagenix Way, a group of companies that are designed for specific pain points:

    • Anagenix International: prototype products in markets

    • Anagenix IP: IP enhancement

    • Biogenix: assist organisations to commercialise concepts

    • New Zealand Bioactives: data profiling for markets


Anagenix has also established offices in Wellington, Auckland and Singapore, strengthened its scientific team and secured a person with experience as a multi-national global marketing manager.


What's next for Anagenix?

Strengthen the balance sheet, and bring in new strategic investors who are globally-focused.
"Anagenix provides a science/technology interface with markets. Anagenix does not wait for the perfect science to be formed. Instead our thinking is: ‘Science Perfected in Markets.’  Science and markets are dynamic and competition is fierce. A really exciting aspect of Anagenix has been its investment and commitment to design thinking, which is led by our Executive Director, Wayne Mulligan."
Peter Fennessy
Chair, Anagenix
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