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Programme has business teams primed for success

New programme has business teams primed for success

New Zealand’s high-tech economy is getting a kick-start from a new programme aimed at building teams to commercialise and launch new products and services.

The programme, called Primed!, is the first of its kind in New Zealand, offering a team-based approach to training and mentoring for business success.

Primed! is a joint initiative between business growth consultancy Ignition Partner and Waikato Management School, with financial support from New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) from its Enterprise Culture and Skills Activities Fund. The programme is run by Ignition Partner directors John Cunningham and Chad Wilkie, who are both highly experienced business advisers.

It got under way last month with an initial workshop at Waikato Management School, where five teams of people with complementary skills were formed and innovative product ideas selected for them to work with.

From June 5, the five teams – each with three or four people – started attending a 13-week part-time course to provide them with training in business and strategic planning, product development, manufacturing, marketing, human resources, intellectual property, finance and venture capital. They will also receive help to develop their business plans.

At the end of the course, those teams that choose to go into business will receive support to set up their businesses and pitch for capital, or entry to a strategic alliance or incubator.

The objective is to have most of the teams in a position to launch successful, sustainable businesses.

Mr Wilkie explains that Primed! is aimed at entrepreneurs, companies that need to build innovation capabilities, graduate students wanting entrepreneurial careers, recent skilled immigrants, and entrepreneurial women returning to the workforce.

It will be run again later this year and twice next year, leading to a potential of up to 20 new high-tech businesses.

Mr Cunningham says the team-based approach used in Primed! only tends to happen by accident in SMEs but is vital for future business success.

“Mistakes happen in business when everyone is a clone. For a business team to work properly, someone has to be the financial disciplinarian, someone else the outreach person and someone the mad fool risk-taker.”

He says Primed! will give participants the confidence, skills and contacts they need for future business success. If the teams’ product ideas don’t stack up, “we will work with them to find the right product”.

Even if some of the teams don’t go on to form businesses, team members will gain an appreciation of the need to bring a mix of attributes to any new business and the need to get expert help with venture capital, he says.

An additional feature of Primed! is that it gives participating teams access to a UK-based “product bank” – a database of new products that are proven to be effective and are available for market development. Mr Wilkie says teams that choose not to develop their own products could instead use the product bank to find new business opportunities.

Waikato Management School Enterprise and Innovation Manager Merran Davis-Havill says innovative programmes such as Primed! are vital to developing an enterprise culture which is deeply embedded throughout the community.

“We’re excited about this programme because it is targeting a diverse group of people with a new, collaborative model. We see it having great potential to build sustainable and innovative businesses.”

NZTE’s Enterprise Culture and Skills Activities Fund aims to support the development of a culture of a culture of business and enterprise in New Zealand.

NZTE General Manager of Marketing Julian Moore says while New Zealanders place a great deal of value on sporting success, achievements in business and entrepreneurship are more beneficial to the country.

“Primed! is an outstanding example of an innovative approach to boosting entrepreneurial skills and helping to create New Zealand business success. NZTE is delighted to support it.”

Application forms for Primed! are available from Waikato Management School.

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