November start-up highlights

It’s time once again for the monthly highlights from the world of start-ups, brought to you by the Callaghan Innovation Programmes team.

Demo Days I – Lightning Lab

November was a busy month for Lightning Lab Accelerators with two demo days held. The first for the South Island, Lightning Lab – Christchurch, held its demo day in the first week of November featuring pitches from 10 of the country’s best digital start-up companies. New Zealand’s first Lightning Lab – Manufacturing held its demo day on 19 November 2015 featuring seven teams developing manufactured product solutions.

Kine6 pitching

Kine6 pitching at Lightning Lab Manufacturing demo

An exciting announcement made during the Christchurch event saw the 17 start-ups from both Lightning Labs have access to an open cheque worth more than $500,000 each, to use on the Microsoft Azure platform over three years. The partnership between Lightning Lab and Microsoft New Zealand will see more than $20 million in cloud credits provided to Kiwi start-ups with the offer also available to start-ups in Lightning Lab XX’s female-founder accelerator and the next Lightning Lab – Auckland, both scheduled for 2016.

Sprout Agritech update

Eight teams have been selected to participate in the 2015/16 Sprout Accelerator. The teams attended their first block course at The BCC, Palmerston North on the 27 & 28 November. Key Note speakers were: Warren Bebb, CEO BioLumic; Bridget Maclean, Fonterra; Matthew Himelstein, Pandora; Jon Sandbrook, President of Pangenome Systems and Larry Ellison, Levno/Smartsoll. The next block course will be held in Ashburton on 11-12 December.

sprout teams

Sprout’s inaugural intake


Demo days II – eCentre, and Massey Uni Innovation Showcase

On the last day of November, eCentre – one of Callaghan Innovation’s supported founder incubators – facilitated their third demo day of the year. A total of fourteen start-up CEOs delivered punchy 90 second pitches, which was followed by networking. Hosted at Massey University, this event attracted entrepreneurs, investors, government, academic and students from the wider community.

Oren Gershtein in Aotearoa

New Zealand is the first country outside of Israel to have implemented the technology incubator model. Oren Gershtein – the man behind one of the most successful technology incubators in Israel – is an advisor to Callaghan Innovation providing guidance on New Zealand’s pilot programme. Earlier this month Oren visited New Zealand and met with incubator CEO’s, universities, entrepreneurs, investors and policy makers to discuss how Technology Incubators can contribute to building bigger, better tech companies faster.


Oren Gershtein at Callaghan Innovation’s Quay St office

Entrepreneurs Challenge

Last week, Avertana and Data Insight were announced winners for this year’s Entrepreneurs’ Challenge. Launched from a generous $3m foundation gift from New Zealand philanthropist and businessman Charles Bidwill, 18 companies have been awarded funding through University of Auckland’s Entrepreneurs Challenge.

Previous winners include STQRY, Manuka Health, Jucy Group, Biomatters, Piako Gourmet Yoghurt and Allpress Espresso. See the full list of winners here.


STQRY co-founders Ezel Kokcu and Chris Smith – past winners of the Entrepreneurs Challenge

Samsung Springboard

The Samsung Springboard also came to an impressive close in early November, with CSx, I Measure U, and Auror being selected by the all-star judge line-up to win cash, Samsung tech and most importantly, massive industry connections to get the teams moving even faster in their target markets.

ArcAngels event

On November 18th key members of the business community gathered for the ArcAngels Investment Evening at EY, Britomart. Looking over fantastic view of the Auckland harbour, the investors received three investment pitches from female entrepreneur-led high growth start-ups: Wilder and Hunt (Amy Gibson), PropertyPlot (Nicola Valentine, Lightning Lab ChCh graduate) and Dexibit (Angie Judge). Discussion on Lightning Lab XX culminated the formal part of the evening, followed by networking.

Start-up highlights will be back in the New Year.

About Callaghan Innovation

Business. Technology. Success.
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