Monthly archives: July 2017
Now that we’ve selected our ten finalists for C-Prize 2017, our focus has shifted from identifying exciting, new wearable innovations, to supporting them through from project to product. But with so many fantastic entrants, and a limited number of finalist slots, we’ve unfortunately had to leave some great ideas behind. But that doesn’t need to be the end of your story, as Callaghan Innovation Startup Manager, Elena Higgison, explains….
It is often said that it takes a village to raise a successful startup, and in my experience, that is absolutely true. But New Zealand is a particularly vibrant village, thanks to the combination of our smallness and our collaborative spirit. I doubt there is anywhere better prepared to ride the next wave of technology entrepreneurship.
New Zealand recently participated in the Startup Genome Ranking Report for the first time – this is a global overview of those cities deemed to have strong startup ecosystems. That analysis showed that NZ’s startup ecosystem is still in the activation phase – an early stage of ecosystem maturity – but that we’re going in the right direction. Understanding how we fit into a global context was not only useful for those of us working in the sector; it also validated our plans to step up activities further.
But we’re keen to avoid the most common pitfall of the activation phase – fragmentation of activity. It’s fantastic to have lots of people engaged in the startup sector, but we need to be really cognisant of keeping it clear and easy-to-navigate, and avoid repeatedly reinventing the wheel. As NZ’s national innovation agency, our role really is that of the connector. As I see it, we should be the first port-of-call for any NZ startup – a place they can come to for help in navigating the who, what and where of startup 101.
This year’s C-Prize contest was a milestone in NZ’s wearable technology journey, and the variety of entrants demonstrated just how rich the pipeline of ideas is here. We are keen to bring as many of them to market as we possibly can. But if you didn’t make it to the final ten, you might be wondering what’s next.
Well, I’ll start by saying that it doesn’t matter what stage you are at. If your idea is good, we can connect you to individuals and organisations that will help grow your business. If you’re still working on your idea or design, we can provide you with the tools you’ll need to navigate the (occasionally-stressful) initial market validation phase. If you already have a prototype, and have perhaps started on beta tests or sales, then we can connect you with an incubator to get you in front of investors. If an accelerator programme is more suitable, we can also advise you on the best one to apply for.
And it’s important to say that we can support you regardless of your location. Our incubator network is expanding reach into regions that haven’t previously been on the grid. And we have Regional Business Partner advisors in 14 regions that are the front door to business support, which includes Callaghan Innovation services, NZTE and Business Mentors, and well as specific regional programmes. We know that it takes resilience, determination and all those other ‘x-factor’ qualities to get an idea over the line, so, supporting founders and their team is a key priority of ours.
Take Spalk, for example. They came out of Auckland University – a group of friends who turned a hobby into a great business idea. Their technology allows sports enthusiasts to live-commentate their favourite events, and for sports broadcasters to offer multiple audio channels for different audience demographics. Spalk got their first break when they participated in the Vodafone Xone accelerator program, which we’re a partner in. They were then supported to develop their prototype further via an R&D project grant with our Regional Business Partner Network. They travelled to the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year as part of our NZ start-up delegation, where they met with some of the biggest names in sports broadcast. On arriving back, Spalk connected to the Icehouse, who helped them secure another round of investment. They’re doing fantastically, and we are delighted to have supported them along the way.
That’s where my passion really lies – in joining the dots between the people with ideas, and the networks that can help turn them into reality. So, to anyone who hasn’t made it through to the C-Prize finals, my advice is to keep your head up, keep working, and keep in touch. We’re here to help.
The Blockchain has been highlighted in reports by the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s (CSIRO) Data 61 programme. The reports look at possible opportunities and barriers for blockchain technology, with the only successful scaleable use so far being cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
Australian medical device companies are taking part in a life sciences business accelerator in the Texas Medical Center in Houston, USA, as part of a “Bio-Bridge” initiative. Callaghan Innovation is working with CMDT to lead a delegation of New Zealand businesses to Houston in October 2017.
The Danish Dairy co-operative, Arla Foods, has invested in a multi-million dollar global innovation centre for natural dairy products as part of the Danish food cluster in Aarhus. The Danes came to New Zealand earlier this year and are keen on building stronger links with our food industry.
In a move that highlights the importance of international collaboration, an “Innovation Denmark Centre” has opened in Tel Aviv, Israel (the ultimate start-up nation), to bring together Danish and Israeli innovation partners and facilitate new opportunities for collaboration and learning from each other. There are seven Danish innovation centres around the world. New Zealand offers similar services through NZTE and other providers, like the Kiwi Landing Pad in San Francisco.
The “circular economy” is a new model for generating growth based on recycling resources and renewable energy. Finland has a programme for changing from a linear to a circular economy, supported by the SITRA innovation fund, and recently hosted a forum that attracted 1,500 participants form 75 countries. Finland is now working with India to help them adopt their own circular economy approach. Energy and the environment are one of the seven sector priorities for Callaghan Innovation, and so we’ll be watching this programme with interest. Read more online at prnewswire.co.uk, indiatimes.com and eurekaalert.org.
Fintech (financial technology) is an important growth sector in Ireland as that country explores digital solutions to challenges in the banking sector. Several Irish companies leading disruption of the payments market attended Money 2020 in Copenhagen. Fintech plays a major part in Callaghan Innovation’s SaaS programme, which will include a delegation to SaaStr 2018 in San Francisco. Read more online at independent.ie and money2020.com.
Singapore’s A*STAR (Agency for Science, Technology and Research) is working in a consortium to develop and commercialise 3D metal printing technologies. The first homegrown Additive Manufacturing Centre has been opened in a partnership with the private sector. The Singaporean government has committed S$3 billion over five years to develop the Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering domain, in which additive manufacturing is a key enabling technology.
Singapore has also identified four frontier technologies in the digital economy that it wants to increase capability in: Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data science; Cybersecurity; Immersive media (VR/AR); and the Internet of Things (IoT).
The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) in Daejon has developed a new Artificial Intelligence automatic face recognition system called K-Eye series. KAIST is reputed to be the most innovative university in Asia for advanced sciences, based on patent filings and citations in research papers. Read more online at koreajoongangdaily.joins.com and etnews.com,
Innovate UK is promoting Industry 4.0 to radically improve the productivity and competitiveness of manufacturing in the UK. Innovate UK (like many others) is calling this the fourth industrial revolution in the way we design, produce and use manufactured goods, and is helping SMEs take action on Industry 4.0 strategies. Callaghan Innovation recently led a delegation of twelve companies with NZMEA to Hannover Messe and a programme of Industry 4.0 visits, and a similar visit to Australia is being considered.