Government agencies, NGOs and startups coming together to tackle social and environmental root-cause problems in New Zealand

Creative HQ’s GovTech Accelerator announces this year’s cohort of innovators and celebrates five successful years of the programme and its alumni.

Creative HQ, Wellington’s Innovation hub, is pleased to commence its fifth GovTech Accelerator programme, which presents a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs and government agencies to collaborate and tackle urgent social and environmental challenges Aotearoa is facing. 

Creative HQ and the Westpac NZ Government Innovation Fund hosted their GovTech Accelerator kick-off event last Friday, the 26th of August, announcing this year’s cohort of innovators and to celebrate five successful years of the programme and its alumni. As part of Westpac’s support, Westpac ambassador and former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw was a special guest at the event.

For the past four years Jonnie Haddon, General Manager of Government Innovation, and his team have been running the 13-week programme, helping local and central governments to use creativity and innovation to solve problems. This year, Creative HQ has opened up additional spaces for Startups and NGOs who are tackling social or environmental problems and want to collaborate with the government in order to do so.

Haddon stresses that society is facing issues, including insurmountable environmental problems, that can’t be fixed if we stick to the status quo. “NZ needs to step up its game and support the public and private sector working together in order to innovate.”

“It will take true collaboration if we are to solve some of our root-cause problems. We want to foster true cross-sector collaboration and we couldn’t think of a better way to do it than to bring all these players into one room,” adds Haddon.

Startups bring innovative, and often cost-saving solutions to public problems that are rarely matched in the public sector. In return, the government has the scale and access to policy makers that Startups/NGOs in the social and environmental space need to accelerate their innovative solutions.

The COVID-19 delays of the past few years have led to a huge increase in government projects and services being worked on simultaneously. Haddon continues, “Innovation and new ideas help increase productivity and efficiency, so we know that now more than ever the government needs to think differently to get through its enormous workload and solve its seemingly insurmountable challenges.”

As part of the supportive Creative HQ community of alumni, founders, experts and mentors, the teams will get the chance to connect, collaborate and gain access to mentorship and coaching who can provide strategic advice. Their projects will gain visibility at the final innovation showcase, in front of an audience of key government stakeholders, ministers and media. 

Haddon and his team are looking forward to this year’s GovTech Accelerator and its outcomes as “it’s evolved this year and marks a milestone on the road toward government, the private sector and the third sector all working together towards a common goal.”

This year’s cohort is an exciting mix of impactful projects, including:

  1. Awhi Analytics – A subjective wellbeing measurement tool.
  2. He Kete Taiao O Ngāpuhi – Streamlining environmental consent processes for Iwi.
  3. UsedFULLY – Resource management platform for the development of second-generation products.
  4. CommonKind – Community distribution and stock management platform to deliver durable fit-for-purpose textile solutions that maximise impact.
  5. VERI – An employer verification scheme to combat migrant exploitation.
  6. Te Waka Redesign (Wesley Community Action) – Rethinking the future of foster care to reconnect rangatahi and whānau.
  7. Birds of a Feather Flock Together – Enabling the future of regenerative farming in NZ.
  8. UpSouth (Community Social Innovation – Te Kaunihera o Tāmaki Makaurau with support from Westpac NZ Government Innovation Fund) – A way to meaningfully collaborate with rangatahi using a digital first platform.  
  9. Screen Futures Wellington (Massey University and Victoria University of Wellington)- Supporting the capital by preparing for future trends and developments in the creative technologies sector.
  10. Connection Amplifier (Manatū Mō Te Taiao – Ministry for the Environment with support from Jobs for Nature Secretariat, Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand and others) – A network to collaborate, innovate and generate insights for better environmental outcomes.
  11. Modern Regulatory Practice (Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga, Ministry of Education) – Modern regulatory practice that contributes to equitable outcomes and supports our stewardship role in education for all ākonga in Aotearoa.
  12. Prosperous Communities (Westpac NZ Government Innovation Fund) – Exploring how new technologies can support our communities to prosper
  13. Ngā Mihi (Datacom, Take2 and Mr & Mrs Crawford) – A social enterprise that facilitates the purchase and delivery of predefined items to loved ones within New Zealand Corrections Facilities.
  14. Netsafe (NGO)

This year’s programme is brought to you by the support of: Westpac NZ Government Innovation Fund, WellingtonNZ, AWS, MBIE, EndGame, New Zealand Productivity Commission and Aro Digital

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