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One Month To Turn Good Ideas Into Business Ventures

A four week challenge to create a new business has kept student entrepreneurs at the University of Auckland busy over February, with social good taking centre-stage.

Run by the Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the annual Summer Lab challenge invites students from all faculties to take part in an intensive programme to learn how turn an idea into a business venture.

Many focussed on solving real-world problems, such as Chopfork, a specialist cutlery for people with disabilities or for teenagers who like to eat and text; and GreeNeez, an affordable and eco alternative to medical alert bracelets.

Others had an environmental benefit such as PuriFibre, a solution for microplastics pollution from washing machines; or were focussed on current issues such as Aqua-e-Fresh, a prototype to identify ground water in areas where water demand is a problem.

Social ventures ideas such as Seniority explored the potential of an online platform to broker knowledge from seniors, harnessing the often overlooked life experience and wisdom of the ageing population.

Over the course of the programme around 70 students worked in teams to develop an idea through the stages of validation, rapid prototyping, design-led thinking, and pitching.

Teams had access to 19 different mentors from the University and the wider business community, providing a range of expertise from raising capital to climate change solutions.

Programme Coordinator Jessica Schneider said it was great to see students in the Summer Lab showing interest in developing socially and environmentally responsible ventures.

“I love how dedicated our Summer Lab participants have been, showing up outside of hours to collaborate on their ideas. The teams have been helping each other through providing valuable feedback. It’s wonderful being around so much passion and positivity."

Summer Lab was facilitated by Dr Jamie Newth who is the CEO of New Zealand’s first impact investment organisation Soul Capital, as well as being a lecturer in entrepreneurship at the University of Auckland’s Business School.

The Summer Lab teams will be able to further advance their ideas through the range of entrepreneurial support at the University of Auckland such as mentorship, prototyping and access to funding.

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