A successful startup ecosystem produces large numbers of startups that go on to create global breakthrough products and services, changing the lives of millions of people. They often have the following 12 key ingredients:
Whilst we have many of these characteristics already present in the New Zealand startup ecosystem, given our inherent lack of scale, engineering our missing entrepreneurial density is still a key factor in creating more successful entrepreneurs here. This first EDG, therefore, talks to how we can create the critical mass required for 'engineered serendipity' at scale, and in particular, distributing that success, and cross-connecting into the regions through highly visible and connected startup, capital, and mentor networks.
Whilst we've already done a lot to encourage the growth of the startup and innovation ecosystem in New Zealand, it is ultimately sub-scale, because New Zealand is sub-scale. Many in the startup community feel that we have reached the limits of our own efforts, existing primarily on sponsorship, sweat equity, and goodwill, and now risk cannibalizing each other's efforts without further top-down support and intevention.
Therefore, the Start NZ Up action plan consists of a number of intentionally high-level policy-level recommendations, which, if thoughtfully impemented, would have significant impact on the development of the startup and innovation ecosystem in New Zealand. The specific recommendations for this goal are presented below.
Establish innovation districts in each major city and centrally connected innovation networks in each region to help create critical mass and improve entrepreneurial density - provide physical space, ongoing entrepreneurial event series, and bring together corporates with startups to foster more innovation activity.
Fund startup community leaders/connectors in each region to support startup community development, network facilitation, and make connections for local entrepreneurs; use these super-connectors to help upskill local EDAs on the startup sector through the Regional Business Partner programme.
Whilst this isn't an exhaustive list of initiatives, any one of these, if thoughtfully implemented, could have significant impact on our entrepreneurial economy in NZ.
Some of our partners may have already started this work on the ground - view the list of those, or add your details to the list, below.
To create a more vibrant and entrepreneurial economy in New Zealand isn't just the job of one person or organisation, it will require the collective efforts of a team of 5 million people to play their part.
It is clear, however, that parts of this action plan requires policy change, and whilst that is a continuing conversation, it's useful to reflect on those people and organisations on the ground who are already doing this work.
If you're working towards one or more of these goals, please consider listing yourself or your organisation as a partner for the goals using the form below. Our current partners specifically working on this goal, are shown below.
We are developing a community for NZ businesses learning and developing AI applications. We have a DB of 2k on email and 5k on social currently. We developing events, workshops and online resource sharing to connect, inspire and activate companies to invest in AI development
Contact: Justin Flitter
We believe engineers, product developers and entrepreneurs in New Zealand are building world-leading products.
In response, Hardware Meetup AKL has been bringing together some of New Zealand's brightest engineers, hardware entrepreneurs, product designers and enthusiasts to meet each other and celebrate our achievements. Our regular events, held at GridAKL, are showcasing some of New Zealand's most exciting products and founders. We aim to create an environment for open conversations, opportunities, and shared resources. For the last two years we've also trialled diversity initiatives, choosing to focus on gender diversity first. 50% of our tickets for in-person events are reserved for women and non-binary folks, and 50% for General Admittance.
Contact: Elyse Wyatt
Wellington UniVentures recognises entrepreneurship as a major driver of innovation and we actively engage with students and academics to connect research with business. Being located in Wellington, with ready access to Government and private sector entrepreneurship hubs, as well as extensive national networks, Wellington UniVentures is well positioned to connect.
Contact: Emily Sullivan
ZeroPoint Ventures is a local and international network of entrepreneurs, accelerator managers, and investors who partner with startups and growing companies to re-engineer their organisations for long-term, sustainable growth, and impact.
In 2011, members of our team helped launch Startup Weekend, a global not-for-profit throughout New Zealand. Startup Weekend is a fast-paced, short form, experiential innovation programme allowing first-time founders in many regions and centres of New Zealand to connect to local and national mentorship at the earliest stages of their journey.
In 2013, members of our team designed and led Lightning Lab, New Zealand’s first and leading investment accelerator, leading a national vision to speed up globally scalable technology ventures from NZ and connect founders from around New Zealand to investment capital, mentor networks, and international expertise to help their ventures grow.
In 2015, we launched ZeroPoint Ventures, NZ’s first virtual evidence-based founder incubator and accelerator programme, based on ‘proof-not-hope’ as described by Silicon Valley heavyweight, Bill Reichert. These programmes collectively provided a clear and transparent pathway to connect founders in remote regions with centralised networks and resources. These programmes, helped founders align their ventures to entrepreneurship playbooks that are right for New Zealanders.
In 2020, we launched the Start NZ Up initiative, a top-down effort to affect proactive policy-change and support for entrepreneurs, specifically to put focus on creating more geographic concentration and nationally connected startup ecosystems across New Zealand, specifically through Goal 01.
Contact: Dan Khan
There are many of us already working on the ground towards creating a more vibrant and entrepreneurial economy in New Zealand. Whilst we contend that there's more support needed, it's useful to understand what others are already doing, what their impact has been so far, and how that impact could be amplified if we significantly change their access to resources.
If you're working towards one or more of these goals, please consider listing yourself or your organisation as a partner for the goals using the form below. The impact our current partners have had, specifically working on this goal, is shown below.
Over the last four years we've showcased around 30 companies, bought together hundreds of hardware founders, engineers, backyard tinkerers and enthusiasts from around New Zealand. Often people are travelling from out-of-town for our events. Each one sells out at around 100 (our max capacity for the venue). We just held our first online event telling the Flamingo Scooter story with founders Nick and Jacksen, and now have the ability to live-stream all future in-person events. Our diversity initiatives have also been successful, and we've had multiple events where we've had 50% attendance by women and non-binary folks. We also actively give away tickets to students and do outreach to minority groups such as Maori and Pacific Island people. Our organising team contains multiple female engineers and we try very hard to have at least one female founder and/or engineer showcasing their company/product at each event.
Contact: Elyse Wyatt
We are new, but we have started reaching an increasing number of listeners on our Podcast to gather support for this goal. We are also in the process of registering as a not-for-profit to show that we are committed to making a change in the way we do things as a country for the benefit of everyone, not for our own commercial benefit.
Contact: Matt Sagen
We are a shareholding member of KiwiNet (Kiwi Innovation Network) - 18 research organisations working towards 1 common goal… transforming scientific discoveries into new business, for all.
We partner with organisations like Return on Science and the tech incubators to create better networked and supported startups.
Contact: Emily Sullivan
If you're already working towards some or all the ecosystem development goals, please consider listing your details below so we can link to you as a partner for those goals. Our overall aim is to collate a list of those working towards each goal in an effort to facilitate cross-collaboration, and to measure our collective impact in building a more vibrant startup and innovation ecosystem in New Zealand.