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SPARK – Entrepreneurship Challenge Lights Up

SPARK – Entrepreneurship Challenge Is Lighting The Fire Of Innovation

Next week marks the launch of Spark - The University of Auckland Entrepreneurship Challenge for 2008.

Spark is an exciting student-lead initiative that aims to help staff and students turn their ideas into viable businesses.

With prizes valued at up to $60,000, mentoring, and access to venture capitalists and angel investors, it is anticipated that the 2008 Spark Challenge will continue to assist numerous new enterprises to grow out of the University community.

Spark will be launched on Thursday, 13 March in the new University of Auckland Business School, the Owen G Glenn Building, on the University’s City campus.

Two of New Zealand’s most successful young Hi-Tech entrepreneurs will be feature as speakers at the event. They are, Seeby Woodhouse, founder of Orcon and Green Carbon, who started Orcon at the age of 24 with $100 and sold it 6 years later when the company was turning close to $100 million in revenue. In 2004 Seeby became Ernst & Young’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year and in the same year was awarded New Zealand HiTech Young Achiever, both prestigious awards that recognise his incredible achievements at such a young age.

Fady Mishriki, founder & CEO of Powerbyproxi will also appear as a guest speaker, sharing his inspiring story from Spark runner-up in 2003 to an international deal with one of the top 100 corporations in the US.

The Entrepreneurship Challenge is essentially two competitions that are supported through a special training course (Vision to Business), mentoring and networking opportunities.

The Vision to Business Course which begins on Tuesday, 18 May is a free 10-week course delivering the kinds of entrepreneurial skills needed to foot it in the business world. Presented by The University of Auckland Business School staff and real world practitioners, the course provides information on topics such as selecting a business idea, marketing and financing a venture.

Vision to Business then leads into a $10K Challenge whereby teams submit a business profile from their enterprising ideas, which could win them one of ten $1000 awards. Entrepreneurial teams can then enter the $40K Challenge requiring the submission of a more detailed business creation plan. Initially teams will submit a business profile from which 10 finalists will qualify to go on to receive extensive mentoring to enhance the robustness of their final plans. The winning team will receive $20,000 plus time in The ICEHOUSE valued at $10,000, and the runner-up will receive $10,000 to develop their businesses.

Spark is modelled on successful initiatives run at MIT (USA) and Cambridge University. Previous graduates from the Spark programmes have generated the start

up of 23 companies, raised over $6 million dollars in equity and grants, and created up to 80 jobs. The organisers for 2008 believe all the elements are in place to contribute more successes to this impressive track record.

Spark is supported by The ICEHOUSE and The University of Auckland Business School.

Gold partner sponsors include UniServices Ltd, ASB BANK, New Zealand Trade & Enterprise and the Tindall Foundation.

For more information about Spark - The University of Auckland Entrepreneurship Challenge, visit


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