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It’s the stuff of dreams, but hard work and commitment’s got the Martin Jetpack to a stage where it could be commercialised. Whether that’s in New Zealand remains to be seen as the Martin Aircraft Company looks to raise $10 million to further test and verify the strap-on vehicle that enables an individual to hover and fly.

The Jetpack has just been named as one of Time magazine’s 50 most important inventions for 2010.

The company is investigating an NZ sharemarket listing via an initial public offer, but if it can’t attract ma and pa as well as institutional investors, it will have no option but to seek overseas funding. “That will come with conditions,” says chief executive Richard Lauder; often that it is built in the country the money comes from.

Founder inventor Glenn Martin has stated he’d prefer that the Jetpack’s development and construction stays in New Zealand, and the government has stumped up with R&D funding to get it to a commercially viable proposition.

As it is essentially an aircraft however, the safety and verification has to be to that industry’s standard, and commercial production would be 18 months out from obtaining additional capital input Lauder says.

The company has already signed a tentative confidential joint venture with one government organisation that would want 500 Jetpacks a year, though in that deal the construction would be in that country Lauder says.

It has also received 1600 individual inquiries for recreational use of the Jetpack at an estimated US$100,000 each. Government inquiries have tended to centre on search and rescue and border patrol uses, while one use for the military requirement would be to forward supply troops with a remote controlled Jetpack capable of carrying up to 150kg of equipment up to 150km.

Lauder’s currently in discussions with financial advisers and brokers on the feasibility of an NZ IPO, which, if it takes place, would be in the second quarter of next year.

If there’s a god of good ideas, hopefully that deity’s kiwi friendly this time round!

Here’s hoping that a damn good idea isn’t forced offshore

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