Safe Surfer is a Tauranga-based social enterprise established in 2016 by Rory Birkbeck and fellow IT expert Aaron Sinclair.

Do you imagine a future like in the Terminator or Hunger Games movies, where survival is based on outwitting your opponent, or one where people work together, using technology to live sustainably?

What can you do in 30 minutes?

Months of intense collaborative work by local entrepreneurial leaders has paid off as Minister Steven Joyce announced today the launch of New Zealand Central North Island first technology incubator.

After a rigorous assessment process and final recommendations from an independent panel, the Callaghan Innovation Board approved the application from WNT Ventures, a Tauranga, Bay of Plenty based organisation, formed specifically to respond to the opportunity.

WNT Ventures combines the talents, skills, knowledge and considerable resources of four of Tauranga’s most innovative organisations. Wharf 42, Newnham Park, Titanium Industry Development Association (TiDA), and Quayside Holdings, the investment arm of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council. They came together to put their combined capabilities – commercialising ICT, primary sector, manufacturing from metal powders – into one winning combination.

Minister Joyce said today the “collaboration bodes well for developing and growing new companies in our high tech sector, which is crucial to growing our economy. If we can work smarter across industries and improve our access to innovation we will have a competitive edge in this dynamic and challenging sector.”

The Incubator Support Programme from Callaghan Innovation will deliver support and funding to WNT Ventures’ technology-focused incubator, a privately owned business focusing on commercialising complex intellectual property.

WNT’s bid is a huge win for the three-quarters of million New Zealanders in the Central North Island and it will benefit New Zealand as a whole. The bid has received immense support from the entrepreneurial community, particularly in Tauranga, Hamilton and Waikato, and is key to the long-term vision of success co-created by the people who live and work here.

“We’ve got to drive and get young people in here, we’ve got to drive innovation in here, we’ve got to really drive this community to be successful,” said Steven Saunders, CEO of Newnham Park in recent interview about his own work as an Angel Investor. The WNT incubator is a very real demonstration of this drive which Peter Wren-Hilton of Wharf 42, and Ian McCrae of TiDA share.

With this degree of focused energy, investment of capital, hard-won knowledge gained through experience from mature entrepreneurs, and support from Callaghan Innovation, the opportunity to grow globally successful ventures from the enterprising community in the centre of New Zealand has today become considerably greater.