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Young Innovator Awards 2013

Young Innovator Awards

8 August 2013

The Young Innovator Awards (YIA) aim to inspire and engage Western Bay of Plenty secondary students and young professionals in the process of innovative thinking and problem solving to design a product or service. Since its establishment in 2009 the programme has grown in size and scope each year, and has become a well-recognised and supported annual event in the region.

In 2013, the scope of the YIA programme has been extended to incorporate the region’s young professionals (under 40). This adds another dimension to the programme through engaging young people across a wider age demographic and broad industry knowledge-base. It will additionally contribute to driving greater engagement between regional businesses and educational institutions.

YIA recognises that, as a region, we need to be proactive and use our expertise through innovation and sustainability to make us globally competitive for the future. YIA aims to inspire students to become true creative innovators through learning the basics of exploring and spotting opportunities, developing ideas, creating something and realising it.

On Thursday evening, as part of the launch of Western Bay@Work launch at the ASB Arena and in front of representatives from local government, business and education and community organizations, the finalists will be recognized for their efforts and the winners announced. (Names of all the finalists can be accessed on the YIA website ( and winners of each category will be on the website on the day following the announcement at the Western Bay @ Work launch evening). The finalists have been chosen from over 130 entries. Submissions were received from the following secondary schools: Aquinas, Katikati, Mount Maunganui, Otumoetai, Papamoa, Tauranga Boys', Tauranga Girls' and Te Puke High school.

A panel of innovation leaders was convened to judge the awards this year (see below). The judges used the five categories of research, communication, sustainability, innovation and creativity to select the finalists, and ultimately the supreme winners.

Another opportunity provided for all YIA finalists this year is the YIA People’s Choice Award. Shoppers at Bayfair Shopping Centre will be able to view the students amazing work and vote for who they think should win. The YIA People’s Choice display will be at the Bayfair Shopping Centre from Sunday 11th August until Sunday 25th August.

A new YIA initiative this year is the Innovation Forum, “When Business and Innovation Collide” and is targeted at the business community. All of the judges are speaking at the forum.

YIA is an initiative led by Priority One’s Instep programme, Locus Research, a product development consultancy and Woods Creative, a creative agency focused on branding. The awards are also supported by Callaghan Innovation. The sponsors for the prizes are: Plus Group Horticulture Ltd, Priority One, Page Macrae and Enterprise Angels.

The Innovation Forum supported by; Priority One, Locus Research, Woods Creative, ExportNZ BOP, Enterprise Angels and Callaghan Innovation

Judges and Speakers

David Darling, CEO - Pacific Edge
David Darling can at best be described as an ‘entrepreneur extraordinaire’ in the field of science and technology. David is CEO of Pacific Edge Limited, a New Zealand based cancer diagnostic company specialising in the discovery and commercialisation of diagnostic and prognostic technology for the early detection and monitoring of cancer. David has had considerable experience developing start-up companies and early stage technologies through to commercialisation. He has been involved in the entrepreneurial development of biomedical devices, biotechnology, nutraceuticals, herbal medicines, forestry and horticulture.

Steve Saunders, Managing Director - Plus Group of Companies
Steve Saunders is the owner of the Plus Group of companies, specialising in horticulture management/consultancy, global pollen production, robotics development, international JVs, tech R&D/innovation and science. Steve is also a major stakeholder in the kiwifruit postharvest sector and an active Angel investor. He has won a number of innovation and export awards, as well as government and Zespri / KVH funded technology projects. He is the co-founder of Newnham Park Horticulture Innovation Centre at Te Puna, which hosts local export award winning companies.

Ed Burak, User Experience Design Manager - Tourism Holdings
Ed Burak is User Experience Design Manager at Tourism Holdings Limited (THL). THL is the largest provider of recreational vehicles across Australia, New Zealand and the USA. A talented industrial designer and marketer Ed has built a reputation for innovative work driven by customer insights. His current role at Tourism Holdings is focussed on accelerating THL’s design-led strategy. Prior to joining THL, Ed held a number of roles at Formway Design including Senior Designer and General Manager of Marketing.

Rob Heebink, R&D Executive - Gallagher
Rob Heebink is Research and Development Executive at Gallagher. This year Gallagher is celebrating 75 years of innovation and business excellence, providing innovative solutions to agricultural, security and fuel partners around the world. Rob has extensive international experience in operations and R&D management. Rob's vision - "Innovation is not an R&D activity, it is a business activity” all parts of the business need to work together to identify new possibilities, contribute to the generation of new ideas, and take responsibility for their respective roles in the realisation of new products and solutions.

Blythe Rees-Jones, Creative Director - Locus Research
Blythe Rees Jones is Programme Director at Locus Research. Locus Research is an award winning Product Development Company whose innovative products have helped position NZ export companies as leaders in key markets across the world. Blythe is highly experienced in directing research and development targeted at delivering new creative insights, and greater market opportunities, through effective application of design.

Tony Hadfield - Commercialisation Expert
Tony Hadfield is a self-employed consultant working in research and development and commercialisation of R&D. Most recently he was the General Manager of Seafood Innovations Ltd a company promoting innovation within the seafood sector by funding R&D projects in aquaculture and the wild-catch fisheries, as well as covering a wide spectrum of scientific disciplines. Tony has been involved directly in the innovation sector since the early 1990’s when he joined the then government R&D funding agency, the Foundation for Research Science and Technology.


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