Incubating New Zealand business opportunities
We are often asked about the SODA incubation programmes, as well as what else is on offer, and so we spend time talking through the different choices available and the potential pluses and minuses for that entrepreneur with each of those options. Here’s a short summary of what we talk through with them.
NZ Founder Incubators
There are five Callaghan Innovation-funded Founder Incubators in NZ, who specifically work with entrepreneurs (Founders) and their ideas. The Icehouse in Auckland is the oldest and largest of the Founder Incubators, and Andy Hamilton, their CEO, has taken a key role in championing incubation activities in NZ over the past 15 years. They have their incubation clients pay for incubation, wrapped up with co-working and other services. Many other programmes for businesses at different stages are also available. The eCentre, also in Auckland, is based in Albany, and provides co-working and programmes for their incubation clients, with some activities requiring you to be on site. SODA Inc. is based in Hamilton, and separates co-working from incubation. The fully customised incubation programmes are delivered remotely (you don’t need to be located in Hamilton), and can be managed part-time. The BCC in Palmerston North has a co-working offering, incubation programmes, and a new Sprout (Agritech) accelerator programme being offered for the first time, and using part-time and remote delivery. CreativeHQ (based in Wellington) provides co-working and incubation programmes, with a lot of focus on delivering accelerator programmes (some under their Lightning Lab brand).
Incubation versus Acceleration
If you’re working in this area understanding startup jargon is important, and it’s interesting to note that the use of these terms in NZ has been different to their original use in the USA. So we’ll stick to our use in NZ – incubation usually focused on a longer engagement (from 3 months to up to 2 years) on a rolling entry into the programme and more specific to the company, with acceleration a shorter (3-4 months) full-time programme on location, with the cohort all entering at the same time and concluding with Demo Day, a presentation to potential investors.
Links to Investors
Investors who have been successful in their own right and then introduce their own money and expertise into someone else’s startup are generally called Angel Investors. The IceHouse (Ice Angels), CreativeHQ (AngelHQ) and BCC (MIG Angels) all have formal angel groups linked to them, and if there is a good fit with the skill set and expertise in that group for your enterprise, this can provide a quick link into that source of funding. There are also other formal angel groups in NZ, such as Enterprise Angels (EA), Flying Kiwis, and ArcAngels, as well as a lot of other angels and high net worth individuals who don’t formally belong to a group. Angel funding is only one source of funding for startups and both the eCentre and SODA remain agnostic to the funding source for a specific incubation client, without formal links into any one group. Funding for a startup is the topic for next week’s blog.
The Technology Incubators are funded by Callaghan Innovation and private investors and were formally established last year. The three Technology Incubators are: Astrolab (based in Auckland), WNT Ventures (based in Tauranga), and Powerhouse Ventures (based in Christchurch). Powerhouse also has some Founder-focused companies in their care after the merger with Dunedin’s UpStart Incubator during 2014.
These Technology incubators are focused on working with intellectual property opportunities, where they provide funding and build the team to grow these opportunities for growth (so they may or may not have a Founder involved).
Other Incubation and Acceleration Providers
There are also a number of other NZ providers of acceleration and incubation programmes, such as Wharf42 Plug and Play Incubator (a pipeline to Plug and Play in Silicon Valley), Vodafone’s Xone (Corporate Incubator), RotoruaX, Live the Dream, Venture UP,and Akina. Each of the Universities have been active in this space as well, with student programmes now available at almost every one.
This is a busy space with lots of activity, with more programmes coming on board almost weekly at the moment it seems. When evaluating them make sure to consider what is on offer, what your contribution will be, and which programme provides best fit for you and your opportunity. Good luck!
– Dr. Claire McGowan | CEO for SODA Inc.