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Futureproof: Innovative Business Backs Startup Students

9 December, 2013

Futureproof: Innovative Business Backs Startup Students

New Zealand’s biggest brands are backing the brightest entrepreneurs from Victoria University of Wellington to find innovative solutions startup-style.

The Futures Programme is a joint venture between Viclink, the university commercialisation office, and startup incubator Creative HQ. Running from November to February, the 14-week schedule pits teams of graduating students from the design, computer science, engineering and business schools at Victoria against real problems pitched by businesses.

The Futures Programme has partnered with Trade Me, Comvita and Tourism New Zealand to build and fund startup teams around business challenges the companies want fresh thinking around.

Viclink CEO Geoff Todd says the opportunity for recent graduates to immediately attack market problems working alongside great companies is second to none.

“We are backing the talent out of Victoria to come up with some of the most innovative thinking in the market. Fresh minds backed with seed funding and partnering with great brands is a compelling combination to kickstart real market-ready solutions and potentially spark new startup companies.

“This is the best way to grow the economy – immersing graduates in entrepreneurship,” he says.

Viclink funds the startup teams for the 14-week Futures Programme aiming to mould startup teams which go on to form companies. Creative HQ operates the programme, matching the teams with mentoring, tools and exposure to front line expertise from industry and business experts.

Trade Me head of strategy Mike DelPrete says the core motivation behind partnering with the Futures Programme is to back startup culture and boost local talent.

“Giving motivated people something to sink their teeth into creates momentum, a track record and gives them some scars on their backs. It’s the best scenario a graduate could hope for. We’re looking forward to seeing what emerges.”

Tourism New Zealand is proud to support the Futures Programme goal of developing new talent and fresh thinking, supercharging New Zealand’s success economically, sustainably and socially.

“True to New Zealand’s value of a fresh, outward-looking way of thinking, this initiative will help individuals gain their own competitive advantage – by offering them a chance to develop their creativeness and innovativeness, while building solid hands-on experience,” says Andrew Fraser, director of marketing.

Started in 2011 by Creative HQ and Viclink, the 2013/14 Futures Programme is the largest yet with four teams working on digital solutions and two teams focused on products, a total of 35 graduates. The programme will culminate in a showcase event in February 2014.

Creative HQ Futures programme director Alan Hucks says the increasing popularity is testament to the rising profile entrepreneurship was building as a career alternative. “If we’re building a knowledge economy, supercharging young talent into entrepreneurial streams is a huge booster for our potential as a global innovation hub.”

ENDS

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