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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

Incubators and Accelerators

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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