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Christchurch innovator awarded prestigious US scholarship

Embargoed: 7:00pm, 9 July, 2014

Christchurch innovator awarded prestigious US scholarship

9 July 2014

Wil McLellan, Director of the EPIC Innovation Centre, was officially announced as an Eisenhower Fellow by US Chargé d’Affaires a.i. Marie Damour at the US Embassy’s Independence Day reception held this evening in Christchurch.

Mr McLellan, who was selected from a pool of international applicants, will travel to the US in September to participate in the 2014 Eisenhower Innovation Program. He will meet with leading experts and business leaders to discuss entrepreneurship, trade and investment.

Ms Damour said Wil was an inspirational leader who brought innovative ideas to life by coupling social enterprise with practical business experience.

“After hundreds of Christchurch city businesses were displaced due to the earthquakes three years ago, he conceived the idea of a regenerative central business hub that brought together ICT start-ups and social entrepreneurs,” she said.

Each Eisenhower applicant was required to devise an innovative project to develop while in the US, that they could then pursue on return to their home country.

Mr McLellan was chosen for his project, ‘100 Heroes Innovation Bridge’, which aims to link New Zealand world-class innovators with US business networks and capital. The programme would create a pool of 100 expert business mentors to help companies in both countries develop joint ventures, and provide access to funding.

Mr McLellan said he was honoured to be selected for the Eisenhower Fellowship and looked forward to working on projects that could make a difference.

“EPIC shows that connecting entrepreneurs across New Zealand creates powerful business communities. The Innovation Bridge project is our chance to connect innovation hubs around the world and establish international communities which create opportunities for everyone,” Mr McLellan said.

Ms Damour said the project would measurably increase the bilateral American-New Zealand exchange of innovation experience, business networks, and capital, while the funding model would encourage needed social investment

Previous New Zealand Eisenhower recipients include: Paul Tapsell, Dean of the School of Maori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies at the University of Otago; Trevor Taylor, Chief Executive of Outward Bound New Zealand; and MP Paula Bennett, Minister for Social Development, Youth Affairs and Employment.

Mr McLellan will complete the seven week, individually designed Eisenhower programme before returning to New Zealand in November.

Further information:

Eisenhower Fellowships

Chaired by General Colin L. Powell, US Army (Ret.), the Eisenhower Fellowship brings two groups, each composed of two dozen outstanding mid-career Fellows (aged aprox. 32 – 45), selected from 47 different countries to the US annually. Over a seven-week period, they receive an intensive, individually-designed programme in the Fellow’s professional field. Fellows are identified by high-level in-country nominating committees and selected by a committee at Eisenhower Fellowships headquarters in Philadelphia. More information at

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