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Kiwi entrepreneur to be judged by Sir Richard Branson

High-flying Kiwi entrepreneur to be judged by Sir Richard Branson and Steve Wozniak

25th June 2014

Auckland based entrepreneur Frances Valintine, founder of The Mind Lab by Unitec, will be coming under the scrutiny of Sir Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group, and Steve Wozniak, Apple Co-Founder, after being named the New Zealand Regional Winner of the Best Start Up Award in the Talent Unleashed Awards 2014. The two entrepreneurial heavyweights will be announcing the global winners at the end of July.

The award recognised a New Zealander who has conceived and implemented a start-up technology-based business that involves visionary technological innovation and a sound strategy.

Valintine's success comes just two weeks after The Mind Lab by Unitec won the Engaging Youth in ICT category in the CIO Awards 2014.

The Mind Lab by Unitec is a specialist learning environment that gives both learners and educators the opportunity to understand and experience new ways to integrate technology in the classroom and to build collaborative skills encouraging entrepreneurship, team work, resilience and creative problem solving.

New Zealand regional judges Candace Kinser, CEO of The New Zealand Technology Industry Association, and Kalman Bekesi, CTO of Auckland based movie marketing company, Movio, believe New Zealand is uniquely poised to catapult its rich technology development concepts and projects into a global arena.

"I think New Zealanders are well placed to innovate in niche areas of technology, particularly in education and learning, and the country's increasing commitment to investment and infrastructure in technology," said Ms Kinser.

Ms. Valintine couldn't agree more.

"It's very exciting and validating to be recognised for the work we are doing at The Mind Lab by Unitec. It's testament to the fact that New Zealand educators really have the potential to be leaders in the transformation of education as the entire global industry navigates and embraces change to best prepare our young people for life and work in a digital age."

Next month the Newmarket-based centre will start working with teachers so they can better utilise technology in the classroom. The post-graduate qualification in digital and collaborative learning will give teachers the opportunity to gain practical, hands-on experience of the latest teaching practices.

"The Mind Lab by Unitec is committed to empowering our teachers to use new technologies, teaching practices and inquiry based learning activities to enhance their classrooms, their schools and their communities," says Ms Valintine. "At the end of the day we want to dramatically improve the opportunities for our children."

All Regional Winners will now be judged by the two global judges, Branson and Wozniak, to win a five day business mentoring workshop at the Branson Centre for Entrepreneurship in South Africa during Global Entrepreneurs Week in November this year. The winners will be announced simultaneously at events in held in Auckland, Sydney, Hong Kong and Singapore on July 31st.


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