Creating a startup requires passion, dedication and hard work. As a founder, you’re working tirelessly to overcome the unique challenges related to your groundbreaking idea. At the same time you’re trying to piece together all of the other parts required to create a successful business. 

Luckily, you’re not alone. A whole ecosystem has grown and evolved in Aotearoa, dedicated to supporting fledgling businesses to grow quickly and start working towards sustainable success. Callaghan Innovation has teamed up with a number of leading organisations that specialise in supporting promising Kiwi startups during their early stages. They provide a series of accelerators and other growth programmes, led by experts in this space, designed specifically to help drive you forward at speed.

Many of the programmes are cohort-based, where you'll receive expert mentoring and advice as well as getting to learn from like-minded founders. Lots of the programmes are intensive, digging deeply into your business, to find holistic approaches and solutions. The programmes Callaghan Innovation part-fund are free to participate in.

Founder and Startup Support Programme

What is a startup?

Callaghan Innovation defines a startup as a company that’s developing an innovative and scalable business.

Unlike other new small businesses, founders of startups are often pioneering new products, services, technologies and/or business models that haven’t been done before, and actively looking to disrupt existing industries or sectors. Founders are also looking to scale and grow their startup businesses quickly, helping to make their business more desirable to investors.

Head over to the In Focus: Startups page to find out how else we’re supporting founders and startups.

Benefits to your business

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Turbo-charged growth

Programmes designed specifically to help you grow and progress your business at speed.

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Wrap-around mentoring and coaching

Personal and professional development from business gurus, experienced in helping startups.

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Build skills and capability

Learn the essential skills needed for creating a successful startup, including market analysis and validation, financial planning and capital-raising, and marketing and sales.

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Networking and connections

Find your community through cohort-based learning and networking events.

Is this right for me?

The programmes are aimed at founders and/or early-stage ventures working to solve big problems, many of which are global. Generally businesses will already have a product or service in mind and have done some of the very early work to get the ball rolling.

Programmes are generally tailored toward certain types of startups, so each may have a set of criteria that you’ll need to meet.

Callaghan Innovation is actively trying to increase diversity in startups and entrepreneurship, so many of the programmes we support have a particular focus on supporting Māori and female founders.

We’ve selected this broad range of organisations from across Aotearoa that are trusted experts in the startup ecosystem. For founders this means more specialised support and guidance from the people with the best possible experience and knowledge.

These programmes take a number of different forms and are designed for a range of different founders and startups of different backgrounds. There are a range of events, workshops, accelerator and incubator programmes that open in different locations.

Many of the programmes are designed for startups solving specific challenges or working in specific sectors.

We’d actively encourage you to research the programmes currently available to see if one could be a good fit for you. The current offerings open for applications are listed below.

Each has an individual application and selection process, managed by the organisation running the programme.

After the programme you’ll have a much clearer direction for your business, and will have identified your next steps.

Free: startups selected by providers can access programmes at no cost.

The programmes are part funded by Callaghan Innovation, the New Zealand Government’s innovation agency. Find out more about us.

The remainder of funding comes from other organisations and groups who have an active and vested interest in that programme, and in the outcomes for its startups.

Meet our providers

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CreativeHQ Primary 1 Orange BL RGB
Creative HQ

Creative HQ is a global innovation hub, based in New Zealand, that provides programmes for entrepreneurship and public sector innovation. Creative HQ creates change for governments and startups through innovation training, structured acceleration programmes and bespoke support.

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HTK Group

Established in 2015, our organisation provides a range of services which include, Business Advisory, Management Consultancy, Programme and Project Management with a focus on growing and accelerating businesses potential. We have an innovative and experienced team, from a diverse range of backgrounds willing and waiting to serve.

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Icehouse Ventures logo
Icehouse Ventures

We're a venture capital firm that exists to support and invest in brave Kiwi founders building global companies.

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Ministry of Awesome logo
Ministry of Awesome

Ministry of Awesome is a force for high-growth startups in Aotearoa. We drive startup ambition, build capability, and support success for early-stage NZ founders and startups with global ambitions. Our six-month Founder Catalyst programme is designed to support, nurture and accelerate the growth of early-stage startups.

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sprout bcc logo 2 img7

Sprout accelerates the growth of startups with novel innovations in agtech and foodtech who have global ambition and potential. We offer an accelerator and investment to selected agrifoodtech startups.

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Frequently asked questions

Do these programmes provide financial investment in my startup?

The primary purpose of the programmes is to help you develop your idea and grow it into a successful business. Some of the programmes may be able to introduce you to potential investors, or create opportunities to pitch. More information is available on each programme’s page.

I’m working in the Deep Tech space and need much more intensive business support. Can you help?

If you’re working in the Deep Tech space, the Deep Tech Incubators programme might be a better fit.

Meet our expert

Jenny Douche
Jenny Douché Product Manager Solving problems that impact many

I have worked at Callaghan Innovation since 2020, and I manage our Startup and Founder Support programme. Having both been part of an incubator founder cohort and run startup support programmes, I have seen the effectiveness of incubators and accelerators from various sides of the table.

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