Floods and powerful gusts have swept across New Zealand this winter, conditions which have caused many kiwis to retreat indoors, hibernate or seek high dry ground.
Yet since winter started in the Central North Island, we’ve been extremely fortunate to experience a flood of new opportunities which have set a powerful wind at our backs to create a very bright, prosperous future.
In just over a month we’ve seen the launch of:
– Waikato Uni’s Agritech fund alongside a new Waikato Agricultural Hub, a co-operation between nine institutions;
– SODA's founder-focused incubator model in Hamilton, funded by Callaghan Innovation to support entrepreneurs behind early-stage, high growth potential ventures; and,
– WNT Ventures winning Callaghan support for a high-tech incubator based in Tauranga to commercialise problem-solving research with global potential.
Taken together these three initiatives put the Central North Island 'on the map' as a centre for ventures in New Zealand. All three exemplify the collaborative approach the region is well known for.
The University of Waikato's agri-tech innovation initiatives support the institutions strategy for a 'connected University' focused on adding value to key sectors. Prof. Alister Jones announced their model for engagement will "make it easier for industry to engage with the University”. And to prove the point ,Vice-Chancellor Professor Roy Crawford made the announcement to a crowd of over 200 key agribusiness stakeholders.
The University’s new fund and hub will make best use one of the largest concentrations of agribusiness, agritechnology and agriservice companies in the country according to Professor Jones and is based on co-operation between nine institutions. Together they will make the most of Waikato’s formidable mix of educational and research resource and expertise.
Over in Hamilton, consistent conditions are predicted with the continuation of Callaghan Innovation's support of SODA's founder focused entrepreneurship services. “We are in the business of supporting people who start and build high-growth early-stage businesses and who have the vision and courage to take an idea and invest into making it a business reality," said Vanessa Clark, SODA’s acting CEO.
"Whether the people are recent graduates, scientists, employees or founders of existing businesses, SODA is here to offer them a variety of support services from entry level workshops and events to intensive incubation and growth programmes” says Clark. SODA will continue to build key partnerships with people and organisations in the Waikato, New Zealand and around the world that are on a mission to grow NZ Inc.
And the outlook for the Bay of Plenty brightened significantly with the third entrepreneurial front to sweep through. The announcement of WNT Ventures’ technology-focused incubator, a new entity operating with a market-based, profit-driven focus to establish and nurture businesses based particularly on complex technologies derived from research and development.
WNT Ventures incubator, a collaboration between four future focused organisations based in Tauranga will identify suitable intellectual property (IP) protected idea or technology that may not have an associated entrepreneur. It will then work to build a team around the intellectual property, building up a venture to the stage where it is attractive to angel or venture capital investors.
A fund, a hub, founder focused services, pathways to commercialisation including education, industry and entrepreneurial collaboration, plus capital and resources – right now the forecast is good for venture-growing activities in the Central North Island.