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Founder Incubators

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Do you have a great idea or an early stage, high-growth business? Founder incubators provide concentrated, core business support and extensive networks for you to accelerate your path to market.

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About Founder incubators

Founder incubators are for people with great ideas. They provide services to help you and your team validate your idea in the market and build a strong business around it.

Our extended network of incubators help start-ups with:

  • Technology and market validation
  • Business planning and development
  • Capability building
  • Investment preparation and access to networks
  • Governance and establishment of advisory board
  • Shared working spaces

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Funding support for incubated businesses

Founder incubators may invest in eligible businesses but the equity stake is typically small and not the primary means of funding the business. Often these founder incubators are affiliated with early stage business investment networks.

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Founder incubators funded by Callaghan Innovation

Talk with one of the incubators below to find out how you can get involved.

The Factory

The Factory

The Factory is a Palmerston North-based specialist business development organisation for start-ups in agriculture, agritech and agrifood. The team uses its expertise in start-ups, investment and innovation management to help entrepreneurs and innovators take products to market.

Find out more at The Factory website


Creative HQ

Creative HQ helps start-ups, businesses and government innovate effectively. They strive to build a vibrant economy fuelled by successful high growth ventures that operate internationally and contribute to New Zealand’s long term wealth.

Find out more at the Creative HQ website

soda inc logo


SODA Inc. works with founders from all industry sectors as good ideas and opportunities can be found anywhere. SODA matches expert advisors with founders to support them in building and growing a business around their goals. Headquartered in Hamilton, SODA Inc. operates part-time, remote and customised incubation programmes for clients located throughout New Zealand which gives founders the flexibility to work within their local start-up ecosystem.

Find out more at the SODA Inc. website

Icehouse Ventures logo

Icehouse Ventures

Icehouse Ventures enables the success of kiwi entrepreneurs at all stages of growth through access to connections, advice, acceleration and investment. Icehouse Ventures’s support is underpinned by a massively valuable network that includes NZ’s largest seed and angel investment network, industry leaders, successful entrepreneurs and world-class mentors. Icehouse Ventures actively invests in and adds value to high potential start-ups, giving them the support they need to win on the global stage.  

Find out more at the Icehouse Ventures website

ThincLab logo


ThincLab is Canterbury's dedicated Founder Incubator accelerating the growth of the regions most promising startups. Powered by the University of Canterbury's Centre for Entrepreneurship and ChristchurchNZ, ThincLab provides capability building for founders and teams, connection to industry experts and agencies, and pathways to growth and investment.

Find out more at the ThincLab website

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Startups in the News

The Social Club - influencer marketing at its best

The Social Club was an early influencer agency founded in 2015, quickly growing to 14 staff to become the largest influencer marketing agency in the country. It connects influencers and brands using its own technology platform. Read and listen to more via The Spinoff

PICMI helps agriculture labour shortages

PICMI’s cloud-based software is designed to simplify the employment process for agricultural seasonal staff. PICMI worked with the Sprint Global incubator programme. Read more via

Genoapay attracts $1m investment 

Genoapay is a platform allowing shoppers to pay for their goods in weekly installments, and with no interest. Founder Shaun Quincey raised $1m following his pitch at the Flux Accelerator programme demo day (delivered by The Ice House).

MyApiary awarded for beekeeping software

The MyApiary team were big winners at the Fieldays innovation awards, receiving four awards for their apiary performance and operations management software. Co-founder Darren Bainbridge received business mentoring and support from the Soda Inc programme. Read more via

For more updates, visit the Founder Incubator websites.

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See what startups have to say about these programmes

CreativeHQ - Innovation in the capital 

CreativeHQ sits at the heart of industry, government and academia in Wellington.

Its Lightning Lab accelerator programme was the first of its kind in Aotearoa, and has helped launch startups like Sharesies and Hnry.

Running innovation programmes for government departments and businesses sees Creative HQ instil a culture of innovation in large organisations.

Business incubators around the country have benefitted from Creative HQ’s expertise and advice as they established their own incubator and accelerator programmes. Read more here.


Northland Inc. - Growing export-orientated businesses

Northland Inc. has built a thriving co-working space, tech incubator and accelerator programme that’s now central to the region’s economic development efforts.

A strong focus on the region’s Māori economy is reflected in incubator and accelerator participants.

Its business ideas competition, The Pick, has been refreshed and relaunched with a more inclusive focus on collaboration.

Northland Inc’s future plans include a sustained effort to attract tech businesses talent and investment capital to the region. Read more here.


COIN South - The world’s southernmost innovation network

After two years in business, COIN South has established itself as a go-to network for innovative Southland startups.

Dozens of businesses have gone through COIN South’s support programmes, several securing seed funding, R&D grants or government contracts.

Set up as an incorporated society, COIN South has received strong support from local businesses, as well as its five anchor partners.

COIN South has partnered with StartUp Dunedin and Startup Queenstown-Lakes to create Mainland Angel investors, which aims to attract investment for South Island early-stage startups. Read more here.


ThincLab - Ready for take-off

ThincLab Canterbury is a founder incubator, hosted within the University of Canterbury and sits alongside the Centre for Entrepreneurship within the Business School. ThincLab helps build and scale businesses, both from the university and from across the wider Canterbury business community.

ThincLab Canterbury is leveraging the university’s business school alongside science and engineering strengths to help foster startups in areas including aerospace, hi-tech engineering and agritech.

The incubator also has a foundational relationship with ThincLab Adelaide, based at the University of Adelaide, with other ThincLabs also in Singapore and France. Read more here.


Startup Dunedin - Building a more inclusive startup ecosystem

Startup Dunedin has a strong history of helping Otago-based students and entrepreneurs gain the skills and confidence to build their businesses.

The business incubator and accelerator programme is a key part of Otepoti’s tight-knit entrepreneur ecosystems.

Startup Dunedin is a founding member of Mainland Angel Investors, which aims to attract funding for the region’s startups.

Its ‘Coaching the Community’ initiative is supporting a diverse range of individuals to make startup resources more readily accessible. Read more here.


Soda - Proudly backing the underdog

Hamilton-based Soda is Waikato's go-to startup hub, with extensive activities helping founders based also in Taranaki, Hawkes Bay, Bay of Plenty and beyond.

Soda runs entrepreneurship programmes and helps startup founders prepare to seek seed funding.

A strength of Soda’s LIFT programme is its experienced mentors, who spend at least four hours each week working with startup teams.

Soda has forged strong partnerships with other tech incubators and accelerator programmes around the country. Read more here.


The Factory - Manawatū’s entrepreneurial highway

One of the country’s longest-running business incubators, The Factory, sits at the heart of the Manawatū’s innovation ecosystem.

The Factory’s innovate programme has injected $5.2 million into ventures, and seen 1,600 people mentored and upskilled.

The Factory is active in schools and runs Manawatu’s Young Enterprise programme.

The Factory’s Manawatū Investment Group (MIG) facilitates investment in promising local startups. Read more here.


Icehouse Ventures - Breaking the ice

Icehouse Ventures runs the largest and longest-running founder incubator programme in New Zealand.

With 260 early-stage startups investments to date, Icehouse Ventures is also the most active seed-stage investor.

A dual focus on the needs of founders and investors has seen the Icehouse become the go-to place to raise funding.

A new $85-million growth fund will help fill the country’s expansion-capital-funding gap. Read more here.


Startup Queenstown Lakes - A beacon for tech talent

Startup Queenstown Lakes is seeking to tap into the global tech talent flocking to the famous resort town.

The tech incubator’s Kickstart and Liftoff programmes support startup founders to launch, run and grow their businesses.

A thriving startup ecosystem will help Queenstown reduce its reliance on tourism.

Startup Queenstown Lakes has joined with other lower South Island incubators to facilitate angel investment in local startups. Read more here.

Updated: 2 June 2022