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Startup Highlights - April 2018

Posted: 06 April 2018
The latest news, events and announcements from New Zealand's startup sector.

Cruising into 2018 at full throttle, we saw the launch of accelerator programmes Kōkiri, FLUX, Kiwibank Fintech Accelerator (KFA) and SPROUT. Read on for information on these launches and other highlights from the Callaghan Innovation startup programmes over the last six months, and Soda Inc's INNES48 competition. Also, don't miss Techweek 2018 coming to your town in May.

For more info on what Callaghan Innovation’s startup team does, please see our startup site.

Accelerators Update


Kōkiri teams

The teams taking part in Kōkiri, the first ever Maori business accelerator, have just finished their second week-long residential in Hamilton.

A unique feature of Kōkiri is its blend of in-residence and out-of-residence delivery. For one week a month the teams stay fulltime in student accommodation at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa’s Mangakotukutuku campus in Hamilton. The remaining three weeks sees the teams travel to their homes (which range from Christchurch to Auckland) where they receive support from local business mentors as well as remote support from the core accelerator team. This is so the teams are not isolated from their core support network and whanau.

Check out more about the teams online here.

Key dates: Friday 15 June – Kōkiri Demo Day (Air New Zealand Innovation Centre, Auckland).


The Icehouse’s FLUX programme has confirmed five high performing startups for the 2018 cohort.

This includes:  a robot analysis and management company; a tool for dropshippers to find new products; a tool for global search of all of your cloud apps; a company helping brands with high turnover customer-facing employees recruit faster and better; and a therapist in your pocket.

For more information on the cohort, see this Idealog article.  

Key dates: Thursday 28 June – Flux Demo Day (venue TBC).

Kiwibank Fintech Accelerator

This year’s crop of financial technology startups promises to be just as disruptive as the first. Companies are using blockchain to manage payments, creating chatbots, helping freelancers fulfil their tax obligations, creating a whānau-based lending platform and much more.

Check out the teams in the KFA Press Release and in The Spinoff.

Some of the teams are doing incredibly well gaining support at just week four of the programme! KFA Team Choice recently secured $1m NZD in non-equity funding from the Foundation. Read more at the KFA blog.

Key dates: Thursday 17 May - Kiwibank Fintech Accelerator Demo Day (venue TBC).


SPROUT Agritech Accelerator has kicked off the year with nine promising agritech ventures getting exclusive access to world-class mentoring and training from leaders in technology, research and business growth and funding. Companies will receive unparalleled access to the New Zealand and global farming network to validate and grow their businesses.

Check out the teams online here.

Key dates: SPROUT Showcase at Fieldays 2018, 13-16 June, Mystery Creek.

Going on around the country



The weekend of 17th March saw Hamilton’s annual INNES48 startup weekend take on the theme of “Better Together.”

The event attracted teams from around the Waikato, and even a group that included students and academics from Wintec’s Tertiary partner China Chengdu University of Technology.

A great opportunity for collaboration, the challenge sees the region’s movers and shakers come together to build stronger connections and to support entrepreneurship across the Waikato business ecosystem.

Taking out the top prize of $10,000 was Creative Dragons with C&D Box, a cooperative concept, putting convenience store owners together to benefit from better security through technology, group buying and support.

Brown & Down Boys took out the Peoples’ Choice and the Best Pitch awards with an Airbnb style concept to respond to the issues New Zealand marae are facing to maintain their facilities.

Congratulations to all the participants and mentors for a great event – read more online here or on the SODA Inc. Facebook page (@sodaincnz).

Founder Incubators making a mark in first half of 2017/18

Founder Incubators making a mark

Our founder incubator programme partners are knocking it out of the park! Since the start of the reporting period on 1 July 2017 until 31 December 2017, we have seen 99 new startups enter a programme, 61 startups raise $53m of funding, 428.8 FTEs supported (18% Female) and 61 companies referred in to other partners in the ecosystem, including the Regional Business Partner Network.

Keep up the good work supporting startups and entrepreneurs in NZ!

Tech Week

Are you ready for Techweek 2018?

Check out the programme – you can even filter for startup related events – including a tour of the Mahuki Accelerator in Wellington; a series on how IoT is saving the world in Waikato; and a kids’ robotics challenge in Christchurch.

The week-long programme is updated regularly so keep an eye on it, and don’t miss registrations for the best events.

Zeropoint Ventures

Zeropoint Ventures has refreshed its programme, and it looks great. Check out their website to learn more about 0. Sprint – a one-week intensive sprint – and 0. Studio, a place to nurture promising startup ideas with capability and resource.

Upcoming events

17 May 2018 – Kiwibank Fintech Accelerator Demo Day (TBC)

19–27 May – 2018 Techweek 2018

15 June – Kōkiri Demo Day

13-16 June – Sprout showcase @ Fieldays 2018

28 June – Flux Demo Day

Is your startup related event missing from the list? Email Startup Team to get it added in the next issue.




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Showcasing Innovation: Three Months of Startup Highlights

Posted: 01 December 2017
Highlights - and some looming deadlines - from New Zealand's startup scene

One of Callaghan Innovation’s key focuses is engaging with early-stage businesses and helping to turn startups into success stories.

The startup space is always vibrant and the past quarter has seen a number of fantastic showcase events, putting the talent and hard work of those behind numerous fledgling enterprises on display.

Read on for some of the highlights, and note the application deadlines looming for a couple of accelerator programmes. 

Connections Hui

Connections hui

Our accelerator and incubator partners came together in October at Callaghan Innovation’s Gracefield Innovation Quarter to connect with each other and share knowledge. Among other things, they learned about the research and technical capability on offer in advanced materials, advanced manufacturing, integrated bioactive technologies and data and analytics. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment policy team also joined us to talk about future opportunities in the startup space. Thanks to everyone who came along. 

Mahuki Showcase

Mahuki showcase

Teams from Te Papa’s Mahuki technology incubator kicked through to the final stages of the programme, unveiling business propositions in a final showcase in November.

Research, Science and Innovation Minister, Dr Megan Woods, opened this glamorous evening at Te Papa Tongarewa, and the teams showcased the amazing achievements made over the programme. Well done to all!

See the Mahuki website for more information about the 2017 Mahuki teams.

2017 Ice Angels Showcase

On 21 September, The Icehouse hosted New Zealand’s largest gathering of angel investors for the 2017 Ice Angels Showcase. About 1,000 investors packed the ANZ Viaduct Events Centre to see 14 startups pitch for investment.

We were proud to see a high proportion of our customers on stage showcasing their work.  This event is growing every year and is becoming the premiere pitch event for startups in NZ.

By 29 November, 12 of the 14 startups had closed or were in the process of closing investment rounds with approximately $21m total investment raised, which is a superb result. Thanks to Ice Angels and The Icehouse for another stellar event helping startups to get the capital they need to develop and scale. 

SODA’s ASB Ambition Showcase

Waikato business incubator SODA Inc. recognised its programme graduates with the ASB Ambition Showcase on 9 November.

SODA continues to support founder-led businesses and connect them to growth advisors. We are looking forward to hearing more from SODA as they expand their services with a number of North Island regional partners in early 2018.

ecentre Demo Day 2017

ecentre demo day

The North Shore’s ecentre incubator community turned out in force to share expertise and support more than 20 companies at various stages of the startup lifecycle, demonstrating the strength of the local innovation pipeline. In addition to the trade show event, eight startups pitched their business ideas to the audience for a shot at winning the people’s choice award valued at over $20,000. Huge value was gained by the entrepreneurs through the feedback, connections and offers of help they received from attendees.

A big thank you to EY, Hudson Gavin Martin and Microsoft for putting up prizes for the winners and supporting the innovation ecosystem.

ZeroPoint Ventures

The first ZeroPoint cohort have been working hard on their ventures part time alongside their day job in this four-month incubation phase. Check out how the selection process went, and who the five teams are here.

Lightning Lab Electric roundup

Lightning Lab Electric Teams

Lightning Lab Electric reached its zenith with Demo Day:  the chance for its four teams to pitch – not for funding, but to promote their fledgling products and to find businesses to join their trials. Check out this story from GE for more information, and Callaghan Innovation’s Digital Energy Hub for videos of the pitches.

Our Digital Energy Hub showcases events and opportunities in the disruptive digital energy space. It features news, interviews, stories and connections to case studies from international and domestic experts.

What is this thing called Technology Incubation?

Ellie Whelan, Commercial Analyst at Astrolab, has published a great piece that shares some of the unique aspects and goals of the technology incubation programme.

KiwiNet Emerging Innovator Programme Graduation

On November 28, eleven researchers were celebrated at the inaugural graduation event for the KiwiNet Emerging Innovator Programme. This programme supports innovative researchers in commercialising their work. There were some familiar names for us at the graduation, including Dr Swati Gupta founder of Inclusys Ltd that commercialises the Talk With Me software tool, and Dr Vlatko Materić founder and CEO of Hot Lime Labs.

Power of Plants Hackathon 2 – 3 December 2017

From pea and insect proteins to synthetic milks and alternative “meats,” the food technology revolution is well underway.

Lincoln Hub and Creative HQ are hosting a food-based hackathon in Christchurch to help shape the future of what we eat and what we grow. Teams will form, ideas will be seeded and grown, and solutions pitched in front of a live panel of judges for a chance to win bragging rights and prizes.

The event is full, but keep an eye on Twitter for progress throughout the weekend.

Accelerators gearing up for 2018

Our accelerator partners around the country have been busy planning, marketing and fielding applications for programmes starting in the New Year:

Fintech2 builds on momentum – applications closing soon

Callaghan Innovation is proud to partner with Kiwibank and Creative HQ on the launch of the second Kiwibank Fintech Accelerator, now open for applications. Check out the programme and share it with companies you think should apply. Details here.

Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator is a three-month in-residence business growth programme seeking people and companies who have viable business models aimed at reaping the benefits of bringing everyone into the financial system. Applications close midnight 3 December 2017.

FLUX Applications - final push!

Flux is looking for talented founders building world-leading technology companies from New Zealand. It targets digital startups and provides a six-month in-residence programme based at The Icehouse. Apply now.  Applications close 7 December 2017.

Kōkiri update and applications

Te Wānanga o Aotearoa and Callaghan Innovation have teamed up with Creative HQRobett HollisCrowe Horwath and EY Tahi to create and roll out Kōkiri, a new business accelerator dedicated to speeding up the development of early stage Māori businesses.

Applications for Kōkiri closed on 17 November with over 100 teams from all over New Zealand putting their best foot forward. Teams will be announced in early December and the programme will kick off in February 2018.


Sprout has received a record 82 applications from its call for solutions across the whole agritech value chain – from farm to fork – including 17 international applicants. The selection panel is due to meet on 6-7 December and up to eight successful applicants will be announced in time for a February programme start.

Fieldays NZ is Sprout 2018’s showcase partner, and the programme will end on a high note with an expo at the National Field Days Innovation Den from 13-16 June 2018.

Nice work Sprout team.

With all this preparation happening in the accelerator space, 2018 promises to be another action-packed year on the New Zealand startup scene.

Upcoming events

1-2 December

 EduHack Latin America (Victoria University, Wellington)

2-3 December

 Feed the World, Power of Plants Hackathon (Lincoln Hub, Christchurch)


 Kiwibank Fintech Accelerator APPLICATIONS CLOSE




 Kōkiri Founders Announcement


 FLUX Accelerator Programme Start


 Sprout Programme Start


 Kōkiri Programme Start


 Kiwibank Fintech Accelerator Programme Start

16-18 March

Innes48 Business Startup Competition – NZ’s largest 48 hour Business Startup Competition


 Kiwibank Fintech Accelerator Demo Day (TBC)


 Kōkiri Demo Day hosted at Air NZ Lounge AKL

13-16 June

National Fieldays Innovation Den (Sprout Agritech Showcase)


 FLUX Demo Day

Is your startup-related event missing from the list? Email the Startup Team to have it included next time.

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Sparking innovation in New Zealand's electricity sector

Posted: 26 September 2017
James Muir, Callaghan Innovation's Business Innovation Advisor - Energy & Environment, shares his thoughts on Lightning Lab Electric, energy sector disruption and launching a Digital Energy Hub.

“Whenever I run into a problem I can’t solve, I always make it bigger.” 

Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th US President.

Eisenhower's comments were echoed by New Zealand social entrepreneur Derek Handley, in his 2013 book, Heart to Start. But more on that later.

Early in September four Lightning Lab Electric (LLE) teams huddled in groups at Wellington’s Michael Fowler Centre, sharp suited and witty, waiting for Demo Day to start. Those set to deliver the all-important pitches stood apart, focused on distilling three months of intense work into five minutes on stage. An hour later, it was all over - the teams stood on stage, rightly proud of their achievements and the audiences' applause. 
The LLE teams were:

Ampli which provides analytics to assist lines companies with cost reflective tariffs
Polanyio whose platform streamlines the tender process for commercial energy consumers
MLabs which applies cloud based computing to revolutionise High Voltage electrical protection 
emhTrade which rewards consumers for personal electricity goals and reducing demand peaks.

For more information, see:

How big were the problems that teams tackled?

Each targeted significant issues. Moreover, they and LLE’s sponsors and supporters, demonstrated that even in the highly competitive New Zealand electricity sector, there is still considerable scope for innovation with a strong technological twang. LLE showed the value of having teams, particularly established businesses with start-up ideas but also true start-ups, stepping away from the day-to-day for full innovation immersion. Time will tell how the LLE teams fare but the Demo Day gave us a glimpse of the opportunity for customer-driven innovation. 

It is great to see such innovation in the New Zealand electricity sector whether LLE-related or not. Against the backdrop of real and perceived issues around incumbency, complexity of regulations, timescales for change and diversity, there are many promising signs including international perspectives on access to and the value of end-customer data, the ongoing uptake of new hardware (e.g. solar photovoltaic, energy storage and electric vehicles), the development of new business partnerships, better understanding of customer problems in developing countries and strong agreement on the significance of digitalisation. 

On the last point, we at Callaghan Innovation believe that there will be significant opportunities for New Zealand businesses over the next two years due to disruption in the energy and adjacent sectors from five digital technologies - Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Blockchain, Cloud Analytics and the Internet of Things.

As a result, we are creating the Digital Energy Hub which from October to July 2018 will offer events and access to digital content. It will feature video and audio recordings from international and domestic experts as well as case studies, infographics and papers. The Digital Energy Hub is an illustration of our commitment to connecting businesses with the capability, funding and networks they need. It will play a part in developing new products and services not just for the niche that is New Zealand’s highly competitive electricity market but as Dwight D. and Derek suggested, products and services that have truly global potential.

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Startup Highlights June - August 2017

Posted: 06 September 2017
News, events and announcements from New Zealand's startup sector

Welcome to the next instalment of the Startup Team's newsletter. As usual, it’s been non-stop activity, launches, and energy – including for us a whole host of ‘new’ and ‘firsts’, not least of which was our marketing campaign (more below) following the announcement of our new partners.

We are extremely proud to be working with our partners for incubator and accelerator services to July 2019. In case you missed it, the press release is here and you can find out more about our partners here.

The procurement process brought out the best in everyone, with creative new approaches seen across the board. We are excited to be working with partners old and new, and looking forward to collaborating with others in the ecosystem.

There has been plenty going on out there, so...

Here is the Startup Team’s newsletter of updates, recent events and upcoming activities to keep you sprightly!

Take a moment, grab a cuppa and enjoy :)

-The Callaghan Innovation Startup Team

Startup Marketing Campaign

Alongside the procurement, we recently launched a digital marketing campaign promoted across Facebook, LinkedIn, Google and other programmatic channels. We also have a print ad in the latest Idealog!

With a goal of generating awareness of Callaghan Innovation’s startup services, we generated over 3 million impressions, and received 31 new leads that have been directly referred to the ecosystem.

A number of (applicants to our programme) remarked that they'd seen your adverts on social media for accelerators and incubators, and from there have applied to our programme.  Really pleased to see Callaghan Innovation taking such a positive step to promote the industry, and help more ventures find support across the ecosystem in programmes like ours.

This was a first for us, and we have taken a ton of learnings from the experience. Thanks to all of our partners who helped make this possible.

FLUX Demo Day

Fantastic outcomes following Flux Demo day on 29 June 2017

FLUX and The IceAngels were thrilled to host nearly 500 guests for their largest event to date, held at the MOTAT Aviation Hall, in Auckland. It was a spectacular evening, with each of the 11 FLUX and guest companies presenting extremely professional and well-prepared pitches.

All 11 startups attracted the interest they were seeking and are well positioned to attract the support they need: Genoapay, Mastaplex, Tectonus, and Osnova are closing in on their funding targets, or are nearly oversubscribed; Regen, Melodics, Lifeonics, VidApp, Blinder, Lumaten, and Armadillo have all generated good interest and are undergoing due diligence and securing further commitments. Read about Genoapay attracting a record accelerator investment here.

It’s great to see so many innovative startups are already actively managed Callaghan Innovation customers. With some seriously impressive startups coming through FLUX, the startup team is excited to be able to give these companies access to our staff and services – a unique and unfair advantage for competing on the world stage.

Lightning Lab Electric

If you plant a light bulb in your garden, does it grow into a power plant?

Lightning Lab Electric (LLE) has spent the last three months finding solutions to some important challenges facing the electricity sector.

Callaghan Innovation has powered Lightning Lab Electric with CreativeHQ because of the need for a sector specific accelerator programme addressing real and perceived issues relating to incumbency of market participants, complexity of regulations, access to data particularly end customer, uptake of new hardware (e.g. solar photovoltaic, energy storage and electric vehicles) and the significance of decisions to invest in new assets against a background of rapidly changing technology and consumer preferences.

James Muir, Callaghan Innovation Business Innovation Advisor - Energy and Environment

For some more on the journey the teams have been on, check out the LLE Blog .

We are charged up for Demo Day on Thursday 7 September, where the four teams will present. There will then be a series of breakout groups to discuss priority themes in the industry.

Callaghan Innovation will continue to liberate innovators in and around the energy sector. In addition to working with individual businesses, we will establish the Digital Energy Hub, a light touch initiative to encourage early adoption and commercialisation by the energy sector of the next wave of digital technologies which present a challenge and opportunity for many businesses in the energy sector – from start up to established – and for those in adjacent sectors such as Information Technology, transport and industry.  James Muir, Callaghan Innovation's Business Innovation Advisor for Energy and Environment, will provide a full blog soon on the outcomes – we are looking forward to it!

Vodafone XONE 2017 Launch

Congrats to the successful companies welcomed to the next Vodafone XONE

The ten companies in Vodafone xone are: Wine Grenade; Hectre; Thematic; 1Centre; EVNEX; Sonnar; Interactive; Emblim; Vensa Health; Tectonus and Parkable. Read more here!

Mahuki GLAM!

Mahuki is well under way with its current cohort of teams providing technology solutions to the GLAM sector (galleries, libraries, archives, museums).

The awesome teams are here.

Mahuki supports each team through:

  • financial support of $20,000 (in exchange for equity)
  • access to Te Papa's experts, collections and visitors
  • knowledge and understanding to better deliver to the cultural sector in NZ and globally
  • visits from international experts who are leaders in digital integration and innovation in the cultural/entertainment sector
  • the opportunity to visit global cultural leaders and meet international experts in the field.

All the best to everyone involved!

Zeropoint Ventures Launch #thenewway

Photocredit: bizEDGE
Photocredit: bizEDGE

Another new addition to the whānau, Zeropoint Ventures launched with two events in Auckland on 17 August and Wellington on 21 August.

With a virtual incubator and accelerator model, Zeropoint Ventures will provide coaching and funding for early-stage ventures to go from idea to their first $1million dollars in revenue.  There is a clear focus on revenue-first startups pushing for profitability and sustainability rather than investment as their first meaningful milestone.

The launch also announced a goal to co-create a new partnership model bringing innovators from New Zealand’s startup ecosystem and corporate representatives from across the country to a two-day retreat. This was the first steps to begin building the playbook for smarter, venture-led corporate innovation in New Zealand that leverages the local startup ecosystem. We are looking forward to the outcomes!

Zeropoint will take multiple cohorts throughout the year, with the first ventures starting soon!


Kōkiri, the Māori accelerator programme led by Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, launched at Matariki Xponential

Attempting to address the underrepresentation of Māori in tradition accelerator programmes, Kōkiri will inspire and grow Māori founders across the country through a tikanga-first design of the programme.

We are extremely pleased with the progress made toward finalising the business plan and delivery model, and look forward to the programme launch later this year!

Expressions of interest open this month

Follow the team on Facebook and Instagram

GetFunded! Workshops

Preparing researchers from CRIs and Universities in communicating the impact of science ideas for investment – be that to Industry or MBIE – KiwiNet has just wrapped up the GetFunded! Series in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch.

Partnered with CreativeHQ, GetFunded! provided mentorship, comradeship, market validation and opportunity assessment tools to allows for deeper insights when marshalling an idea into shape.

It was great to see so many researchers volunteering their real-world projects to be worked on, validated, and developed during the Startup Weekend style events.

Congratulations to all the participants, and we hope to see some of these teams carry the idea through to new ventures!

ecentre Sprint Launch!

Teams from the inaugural Sprint Launch cohort presented at EY Britomart on Thursday 31 August to an audience of investors and mentors, to get free and frank feedback. (Press release here.)

Sprint Launch is an intensive 12 week programme run by ecentre that takes startups from prototype to first customers by opening doors to mentorship, business development and capital.

The six startups in this Sprint were all B2B with a ready prototype preparing to take the businesses on the next phase of growth.  They are: The Curiat, Mimocare, Micromanager, Element, RoleQ, and HR Health and Safety.

Well done to all who pitched and put themselves on show to get real feedback - champions!

Upcoming Events

  • 7 September 2017 Lightning Lab Electric Demo Day
  • 8 September 2017 Innovate 2017 | Entries Close
  • 21 September 2017 Angel Investment Showcase, Auckland
  • September 2017 Kōkiri expressions of interest open
  • September 2017 The Cutting Edge Competition Entries Open
  • 2 October 2017 FLUX Accelerator 2018 APPLICATIONS OPEN
  • 2 October 2017 Kōkiri Accelerator 2018 APPLICATIONS OPEN
  • 9 November 2017 ASB Ambition Showcase “Ambitious entrepreneurs share their stories of building a fast-growing business through SODA’s incubation process.”
  • 25 November 2017 FLUX Accelerator 2018 APPLICATIONS CLOSE

Is your startup related event missing from the list? Email Startup Team to get it added in the next issue.

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Callaghan Innovation kickstarts Kiwi companies

Posted: 26 July 2017
Disappointed not to have made it through to the C-Prize finals? Our Start-up Manager, Elena Higgison gives you the low-down on other ways Callaghan Innovation can help.

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.

For more details, visit: or email

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