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Million Dollar Prize Up For Grabs For Innovators Working To Decarbonise Aotearoa

The Westpac NZ Government Innovation Fund has announced a $1 million funding pool to drive innovation around financing and incentivising the decarbonisation of Aotearoa.

The Innovation Fund is powered by Westpac NZ and jointly administered with the government. It runs two themed intakes per year, and applicants are invited to apply for funding to help them work towards solving key issues and challenges.

Westpac NZ Head of Public Sector and Innovation Fund chair Brent Chalmers says the $1m is three times the usual amount on offer, and will be put towards initiatives that could bring real benefits for Kiwi communities.

“Climate change is one of the biggest challenges we face, both in Aotearoa and around the world. Our customers and communities are demanding action on climate issues, and we’re working together with them by providing this funding,” Mr Chalmers says.

“We’re looking for people and teams with ideas that will support our transition to a low-carbon economy, or help tackle the challenges that are slowing us down.

“Whether you’re developing certification and accreditation schemes, championing systemic improvements to legislation or regulations to help incentivise good environmental practice, or solving a complex challenge that can be replicated more widely, we want to hear from you.

“We’re looking to divide up the $1m funding to multiple worthy applicants, but this shouldn’t stop you from applying for all of it if you think you have the ‘one idea to rule them all’.”

Mr Chalmers announced the funding at a showcase event for Creative HQ’s NZ GovTech Accelerator 2021, the first since the Innovation Fund announced a three-year partnership with Creative HQ in June.

The event showed off the work of eight government teams chosen for this year’s intake, with iwi-led, Gisborne-based initiative Manaaki Tairāwhiti the first recipient of a new $50,000 prize from the Innovation Fund. The prize will allow them to further develop their programme, which is aimed at better aligning the needs of whānau with social services.

“Witnessing the amazing work of these teams of innovators up-close is really inspiring for us, but it also reminds us of the many environmental and social challenges we face as we recover from COVID-19,” Mr Chalmers says.

“Our partnership with Creative HQ is helping take on those challenges and give innovative New Zealanders the means to build a more sustainable and resilient economy that benefits everybody.”

Applications for the $1m Decarbonisation Fund will close next February, and an announcement on final allocations will be made in mid-2022. More information about the Innovation Fund can be found here.

About Westpac NZ Government Innovation Fund:

The Innovation Fund is a joint initiative established in 2015. Funded by Westpac NZ and mutually governed by Westpac NZ and the New Zealand government, its aim is to drive innovation and change at a government level to solve real-world issues and help create solutions that are tangible, valuable, and inspiring for all New Zealanders.

We listen to those who want to make a difference – government agencies, organisations, business or everyday New Zealanders who have identified a problem worth solving - and provide funding and expertise to explore, validate, or implement smart solutions. We help connect potential partners and customers in the government and private sector, bringing people together with shared problems or experiences.

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