Early stage technology businesses in the regions can expect an easier pathway to support thanks to the expansion of Callaghan Innovation's founder incubators, says Science and Innovation Minister Paul Goldsmith.
Founder incubators are, as the name suggests, centred around a startup founder, and bring groups of startups together, sometimes in a shared working space, to provide services to help with technology and market validation, business planning and investment preparation, among other support.
“Following an extensive tender process, Callaghan Innovation has awarded six providers one and two-year contracts for founder incubator services, beginning July 1, 2017,” Goldsmith says.
The six successful applicants are The Icehouse, ZeroPoint Ventures, SODA Inc, Creative HQ, BCC, and ecentre.
“These successful applicants will significantly increase the extent of regional coverage.
“Our main cities are well-served by multiple incubators and accelerators, but it has been much more difficult for regional startups to gain access to the same services,” Goldsmith says.
“This regional expansion recognises that the tech sector's best ideas do not only come from the main centres, and that improvements such as ultrafast broadband mean that an export-focussed startup could be based just about anywhere from Kaitaia to Bluff.
Waikato-based founder incubator SODA Inc will work with partners to deliver services to startups in the Bay of Plenty, Gisborne, and Hawkes' Bay.
The North Shore-based ecentre will work with Northland Inc to deliver services to start-ups from the Auckland region.
Wellington's Creative HQ will look to bring services to several regions in the South Island.
Callaghan Innovation has also finalised contracts for business accelerators for the 2017/18 year, which includes the continuation of contracts for agritech accelerator Sprout, The Icehouse's Flux, Creative HQ's Lightning Lab, and provision for a number of other sector-specific options in the coming year.
Callaghan is also continuing the technology incubator pilot programme with funding confirmed for another two years.
The programmes demonstrate the Government's commitment to encouraging more technology startups in New Zealand as a means to diversifying the economy and increasing productivity.
“These contracts underpin the Government's commitment to readying the New Zealand economy for the technological disruption to come.
“Technology businesses create high-value jobs, tend to be export-focussed from day one, and ensure that seismic shifts in global consumer demand will not consign our economy to the dustbin,” Goldsmith says.
“I can't wait to see the new Kiwi businesses that these incubators will help bring to market.