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Innovate Winner Announced At Awards Celebration

7 entrepreneurs with great ideas presented their final pitch to the judges in front of a live audience of 300 strong in Palmerston North at the Innovate Awards on Thursday night 27 November. Now in its 9th year, Innovate brings people together to go through a journey of life as a start-up business – the process is rigorous, frustrating, exhausting as well as rewarding, life changing and affirming.

The 7 finalists had five minutes to convince the judges that they had the best idea to win the prize of $5,000 cash plus immediate entry to the Factory accelerator programme at the Factory at Massey University. The Factory is home to businesses and creative, strategic thinkers with decades of experience to mentor, guide and invest in new businesses.

These 7 business ideas stemmed from an initial group of 61 entries that were eventually made to become 20 semi-finalists. “We have never seen this level of interest and range of great ideas that could become global businesses,” explains Nick Gain, General Manager at The Factory. “Creating a group of 7 finalists from the initial entries was challenging as many would have impressed the judges.”

Barbara Kelly with Event Ready Bodies using optizone software won Innovate ’20 by demonstrating that is easily scalable with a clear customer base and global market potential. Kelly already has subscriptions sold across the country with some starting to renew. The judges said she has a proven model for success with huge potential nationally and internationally.

Event Ready Bodies is not only for elite athletes and develops individual training programmes for anyone to ensure their body is ready for the next event. “Innovate provides a robust system that is also about providing partnerships and connections,” explains Barbara. “We must prevail was the message from my team, especially during these challenging times. We are all grateful for and have benefitted greatly from the robust system that Innovate provides. And, we want to do Palmy proud.”

What does it take to be an entrepreneur? Dave Craig knows since he has lived, breathed and directed the Innovate programme and Awards since inception. “Tenacity, endurance and a self-belief is at the heart of every entrepreneur.”

“We may think we have a great idea, but it is in how we execute the idea which is at the heart of the Innovate programme. We help people validate the idea so that they can build the skills and confidence to secure investment funding to make their business a reality.”

Now in its ninth year, Innovate has attracted 1700 entries and has helped scores of people become better business start-ups. What began as a Dragons Den style programme has now become part of the fabric of the business community as Innovate Alumni are mentors and partners have supported the Innovate process since the beginning.

The Innovate judges commented on the unexpectedly high quality of the finalists’ ideas and presentations. The judges looked for fresh ideas that could disrupt the market and focused on the execution, scalability and revenue model as well as brand, the team and niche.

Barbara Kelly and her team won the top prize on the night and Emma Buchanan was recognised for her tenacity, confidence and abilities with the UCOL prize of $1,000. Jason Wargeant who founded biolumic was named the Manawatu Innovation Ambassador for 2020 and Dean Tilyard was recognised for his outstanding efforts in the business and investment community.

The judges for Innovate 2020 were Russell Craig, CTO at Microsoft; Russell Brebner, CPO at Umajin; Luke Irving, CEO and Founder of Fingermark, Jason Driscole, Director at Morrison Creed; Britta Fromow, Lawyer and Patent Attorney at James and Wells, and Kylie Love, Innovate finalist in 2018.

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