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Eight Kiwi businesses named finalists of inaugural Spark 5G Starter Fund

Spark has named the finalists of the inaugural Spark 5G Starter Fund.

Eight Kiwi businesses were selected by Spark as finalists for the fund and are now in the running for a share of $625,000 worth of prizes.

Selected from more than 200 entries from around the country, each of the finalists’ 5G enabled ideas showcase the exciting capabilities and innovations that are possible through 5G, Spark says.

The finalists (in alphabetical order) are ARCubed (Hamilton), Beyond VR (Wellington), Objective Acuity (Auckland), oDocs Eye Care (Dunedin), OPUM Technologies (Auckland), Loop HQ (Auckland), Relay (Auckland) and Rocos (Auckland).

 Their ideas, which span four categories – Next Gen Health, Good for New Zealand, Industry Disruptors, and Immersive Experiences – offer innovative, 5G enabled solutions that address modern-day problems from environmental issues such as waste through to health concerns like preventable blindness.

While details will be closely guarded until the four winners are announced next month, each of the finalists’ use cases could fundamentally change the way Kiwis live, work, learn and play, Spark explains.

Spark’s Technology Evolution lead Renee Mateparae sees Spark’s 5G Starter Fund as a significant investment to support the country’s 5G pioneers, some of whom will soon make history by being among the first businesses to fully embrace the powerful potential of 5G in New Zealand.

“Spark is on a nationwide search to find New Zealand’s most innovative 5G ideas. We are committed to supporting Kiwi businesses through funding, mentoring and providing access to 5G experts, as they bring their 5G solutions to life to solve real customer problems, create new business models and revolutionise industries,” says Mateparae.

“These are some of the first locally conceived ideas that demonstrate how 5G technology can be applied to have a positive impact on the lives of Kiwis. We are thrilled by the calibre of entries in our first Spark 5G Starter Fund and we hope the programme provides the inspiration other businesses need to factor 5G into their technology ‘roadmaps’.”

The finalists now have just over a month to convince a judging panel of local and international industry experts why their idea should be selected.

The top four winners selected by the judges will be announced by Spark on 28 October – the first-place winner will receive $250,000, and three second place recipients, $125,000 each.

On top of this, the four winners will each have access to the Spark 5G Co-Lab and benefit from 5G tech support and business mentoring by Spark and the judges over four months, from November 2020 to March 2021, as they strive to take their proof of concept to minimal viable product (MVP) stage.

“The aim of the Spark 5G Starter Fund is to advance early-stage ideas or prototypes to demonstrable MVPs by the end of the programme. It’s very exciting to be part of helping create some of the first 5G technology applications in the country, as we know technology and digital innovation will play a critical role in New Zealand's economic recovery and transformation,” adds Mateparae.