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Inaugural Spark 5G Starter Fund Step Closer To Turning Novel Ideas Into 5G Innovations

Finalists named in inaugural Spark 5G Starter Fund step closer to turning novel ideas into 5G innovations

Eight leading-edge Kiwi businesses have been selected by Spark as finalists in its inaugural Spark 5G Starter Fund and are now in the running for a share of the $625,000 worth of prizes.

Selected from more than 200 entries from around the country, each of the finalists’ 5G enabled ideas showcase the exciting capabilities and innovations that are possible through 5G.

The finalists (in alphabetical order) are ARCubed (Hamilton), Beyond VR (Wellington), Objective Acuity (Auckland), oDocs Eye Care (Dunedin), OPUM Technologies (Auckland), Loop HQ (Auckland), Relay (Auckland) and Rocos (Auckland).

Their ideas, which span four categories – Next Gen Health, Good for New Zealand, Industry Disruptors, and Immersive Experiences – offer innovative, 5G enabled solutions that address modern-day problems from environmental issues such as waste through to health concerns like preventable blindness.

While details will be closely guarded until the four winners are announced next month, each of the finalists’ use cases could fundamentally change the way Kiwis live, work, learn and play.

Spark’s Technology Evolution lead Renee Mateparae sees Spark’s 5G Starter Fund as a significant investment to support the country’s 5G pioneers, some of whom will soon make history by being among the first businesses to fully embrace the powerful potential of 5G in New Zealand.

“Spark is on a nationwide search to find New Zealand’s most innovative 5G ideas. We are committed to supporting Kiwi businesses through funding, mentoring and providing access to 5G experts, as they bring their 5G solutions to life to solve real customer problems, create new business models and revolutionise industries,” says Mateparae.

“These are some of the first locally conceived ideas that demonstrate how 5G technology can be applied to have a positive impact on the lives of Kiwis. We are thrilled by the calibre of entries in our first Spark 5G Starter Fund and we hope the programme provides the inspiration other businesses need to factor 5G into their technology ‘roadmaps’.”

The finalists now have just over a month to convince a judging panel of local and international industry experts why their idea should be selected.

The top four winners selected by the judges will be announced by Spark on 28 October – the first-place winner will receive $250,000, and three second place recipients, $125,000 each.

On top of this, the four winners will each have access to the Spark 5G Co-Lab and benefit from 5G tech support and business mentoring by Spark and the judges over four months, from November 2020 to March 2021, as they strive to take their proof of concept to minimal viable product (MVP) stage.

“The aim of the Spark 5G Starter Fund is to advance early-stage ideas or prototypes to demonstrable MVPs by the end of the programme. It’s very exciting to be part of helping create some of the first 5G technology applications in the country, as we know technology and digital innovation will play a critical role in New Zealand's economic recovery and transformation,” adds Mateparae.

To find out more about the Spark 5G Starter Fund, the judges, and the programme’s dates and details, visit

The judging panel:

The five panelists are local and international industry leaders, and have been selected for their expertise in 5G, innovation, entrepreneurship and thought leadership. Panelists include:

  • Serhad Doken, Executive, Technology Innovation, 5G Labs & Ecosystems, Verizon (USA)
  • Frances Valintine (CNZM), Founder and CEO, The Mind Lab & Tech Futures Lab
  • Ido Leffler, Non-Executive Director, Spark and co-founder and CEO, Yoobi
  • Mark Beder, Technology Director, Spark
  • Tessa Tierney, Product Director, Spark

For more information visit

About 5G:

5G is the fifth generation of wireless technology. It has the potential to bring super-fast downloads, minimal latency, massive connectivity, and outstanding reliability. 5G has the potential to reach download speeds of up to 100 times faster than 4G, opening huge possibilities for business and the way New Zealanders live, work and play.

Spark launched 5G Mobile in Palmerston North in August 2020, with its 5G network launching in four more locations before the end of 2020.

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