Months of late nights, intensive mentoring and product testing will come to a head in Lower Hutt on November 19 in a double-header start-up ‘Day of Hardware Innovation’, as participants in Lightning Lab Manufacturing and Callaghan Innovation’s C-PRIZE UAV challenge come together to pitch their products to a room full of potential investors.
Thirteen companies and individuals (seven Lightning Lab manufacturers, and six C-PRIZE finalists) will each get the chance to demonstrate how their product in development will change the world and help support New Zealand’s future in manufacturing technologies.
Lightning Lab Manufacturing is New Zealand’s first hardware accelerator, where seven startup ventures with products as diverse as motion capture technology and sustainable surfboards, have been brought into the Lab in Lower Hutt for three months to build and scale businesses based on physical products.
The Callaghan Innovation C-PRIZE is a challenge set in concert with the NZ Film industry, to solve one of three ‘big issues’ faced in using UAVs (drones) in filmmaking: stability in high winds, aircraft noise and automatic tracking of moving objects.
Lightning Lab Manufacturing programme director, Shawn O’Keefe, says amongst entrepreneurs in the digital age, the accepted wisdom is that ‘hardware is hard’, and possibly best left to those overseas.
“These programmes prove Kiwis can design and develop physical products capable of competing on the world stage.
“I’ve been impressed with the collaborations formed during the Lightning Lab programme. We have received great support from our amazing mentors, from the investment community, our government partners and the manufacturing sector as a whole. The willingness for all in the region to give their time, share their expertise and networks has been really impressive to see. These ventures now have a real headstart.”
Jesse Keith, national network manager, design and manufacturing at Callaghan Innovation says they are proud to be supporting both ventures.
“Physical product design and development is hard for even an established company, so for a start-up the challenges are massive.
“Lightning Lab Manufacturing and the C-PRIZE are giving these highly motivated entrepreneurs the skills and connections to become the future of our innovation ecosystem.
“We have successfully connected Lightning Lab Manufacturing teams to Callaghan Innovation – Research and Technical Services located in Gracefield who are able to provide high-level technical knowledge all with the desire of accelerating R&D.
“The C-PRIZE finalists have also had access to expertise including an introduction to the Better By Lean methodology, and meeting film industry experts to get an end-user perspective on UAV use in filming.”
Grow Wellington’s Sector Manager for Manufacturing Grant Lumsden says hosting Lightning Lab Manufacturing and the ‘Day of Hardware Innovation’ has demonstrated that the Wellington region is indeed a digital hot-spot, but it also continues to have a strength in product design, development and high value manufacturing.
He also paid tribute to those supporting the initiative behind the scenes.
“Our sponsors, in particular, have given over and beyond the call to our teams. ANZ’s support for the space, and lending their investor expertise, EY’s business expertise and AJ Park’s guidance on the IP issues have all provided a real step-up for the programme ventures. Partners Velox Innovation and Fuji Xerox have also gifted their domain expertise to the teams and we are truly grateful for their support”