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The Search Is On To Find Manawatū’s Best Entrepreneurs And Innovative Businesses

Innovate launches today with the aim of finding and funding the smartest ideas and aspiring entrepreneurs in the region.

Innovate was first held in 2011 by The Factory —a team of experts that have been growing and funding companies since 2006. Over the last 11 years, Innovate has received almost 1,800 entries, created 80 businesses, and helped raise over $5 million dollars of investment for Innovate companies.

At its core, Innovate is the same today as it was 11 years ago – a program that encourages local entrepreneurialism and sparks the local ecosystem to grow young companies, new business, and thought leaders. A new addition to the program this year was the development of Moxie, a program established to build female founders.

“It’s exciting to launch Aotearoa’s first mini-accelerator for the eleventh year,” explains Nick Gain, CEO of The Factory.

“Every year the Innovate team and our stakeholders are enthused by the innovative ideas and brave, aspiring entrepreneurs that enter the programme.”

Innovate’s proven playbook is now delivered across four regions of New Zealand.

“Validated in the Manawatū over the past ten years, Innovate was brought to Whanganui and the Hawke’s Bay for the first time last year, and we added Taranaki this year,” Nick continues.

“Innovate helps establish a pathway for entrepreneurs to work through their business models, connect into their local and our national mentor scene, and opens the door to investment, something every founder understands is crucial to their game.”

The Innovate entries will be assessed by experts, who will decide which applicants have an idea worth pitching. The top 20 entrants will then be invited to pitch to a room of selectors where they will have two minutes to get the selection panel from a diverse range of business people, community leaders, professionals and creatives, inspired by their innovative ideas.

The selection panel will select the top five finalists, each of whom will get access to a 10-week accelerator programme. The program will give them tailored support, access to mentors, and the opportunity to supercharge their business idea. The energy, focus and pressure mounts as the program progresses and the candidates build their skills, with the program culminating in the final pitch night in December.

Winner of Innovate 2021, Rachel O’Connor said the Innovate process provided the direction, guidance, and support to deep-dive into the problem definition and validation stages, fast-tracking the proof-of-concept and enabling Rachel to secure her first customer . “The Innovate program has given me, and the other finalists, such a strong foundation to grow our businesses and I recommend it to anyone who has an idea that solves a problem.”

The winner will receive $5,000 cash and the ability to receive investment from an active angel community in the Manawatū.

Key Dates:

  • Applications close 5pm Friday 26 August
  • Semi-Finalist Selected (Top 20) 31 August
  • Semi-Finalist Pitch 5 – 6 September
  • Finalist Announcement 7 September
  • 10-Week Finalist Program begins the week of 12 September
  • Finals Evening 1 December

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