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Auckland welcomes international students as part of innovation lab

Auckland will play host two six scholarship students from Shantou University in China, as the students take part in the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s first Summer Lab.

The aim of the lab is to encourage cross-cultural relations between entrepreneurs from China and New Zealand.

The students were officially welcomed to the University of Auckland’s Business School with a mihi whakatau today, along with 10 New Zealand-based students taking part in Summer Lab.

Summer Lab is designed to help students build and validate their business ideas. Participants receive a desk at New Zealand business growth centre, The IceHouse, free mentoring, workshops, and the opportunity to apply for venture funding.

The Centre’s director Wendy Kerr, says the partnership will create a cross-cultural dimension that will enrich the learning experience and potentially develop long-term business relationships.

“China is New Zealand’s number one trading partner, so it is invaluable for our emerging entrepreneurs to network with other Chinese students with similar aspirations,” she says.

“This will enable them to think globally and with scale from day one.”

“Our Shantou University participants get the opportunity to develop their ideas over six-weeks through the University of Auckland’s internationally recognised entrepreneurial ecosystem and take those learnings back home,” Kerr explains.

Shantou University is a key comprehensive university founded in 1983 by Hong Kong philanthropist Mr Li Ka Shing with the backing of the Ministry of Education in Guangdong Province. The Li Ka Shing Foundation has supported Shantou University in excess of US800 million since its inception.

He sees access to higher education as vital to economic development for the region.

“For more than a decade Shantou University has pioneered reforms in higher education in China.  The focus on driving innovation through entrepreneurship technology is one of the university’s new initiatives,” says Li.

Brett O’Riley, chief executive of Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED), a Summer Lab programme partner, says the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s developing partnership with Shantou University is the type of collaboration the Tripartite Economic Alliance seeks to develop.

The Tripartite Economic Alliance was established in 2014. It is a three way economic agreement between Auckland and sister cities Los Angeles and Guangzhou which, like Shantou, is in China’s Guangdong province. Auckland is hosting the second alliance summit in May this year.

“Guangzhou and Los Angeles are Auckland’s most well-established and economically important sister cities,” says O’Riley.  “The three cities aim to set a new standard for how modern cities can engage and collaborate in the 21st Century.

“Welcoming business delegations from LA and Guangzhou to the Auckland summit is a fantastic opportunity for our region,” he says.

“We are pleased Auckland’s future entrepreneurs are being given the opportunity to begin thinking about ways they can partner with China from the very beginning of their business ventures,” O’Riley adds.

“Partnerships like these have the potential to add huge value to the Auckland economy in the future as we increasingly focus on global connections.”