New Zealand’s first startup accelerator Lightning Lab is working with Auckland startup incubator The Icehouse and the Canterbury Development Corporation (CDC) to run a national programme.
The partnership is between The Icehouse, CDC (economic development agency for Christchurch) and Wellington startup hub Creative HQ – founder of Lightning Lab.
The programme is looking to give more New Zealand startups the opportunity to grow their companies faster through the combination of seed funding, intensive mentoring and 12-weeks of focused business and product development programme.
The national partnership is targeting Lightning Lab programmes in Auckland and Christchurch in 2015 and in multiple New Zealand locations simultaneously from 2016 onwards.
The inaugural Lightning Lab 2013 saw four new startup companies receive $2.1 million in early stage ‘angel’ funding between them, after completing the programme. Lightning Lab 2014 started in March this year and will culminate in Lightning Lab Demo Day on May 28 in Wellington.
Stefan Korn, CEO of Creative HQ – founders of Lightning Lab - says Lightning Lab has attracted companies from all over New Zealand and it is a natural step to align the programme with other regions.
“Lightning Lab is about bringing the best startup teams into one place and building globally focussed companies," he says.
"By bringing together the strongest startup support networks across the country, we can do this more effectively and more often.
"It brings a necessary focus to do what we need to do – create more successful digital ventures from New Zealand.”
Director of startups at The Icehouse Ken Erskine says research shows successful startup accelerators provide three things: a network of highly experienced and committed mentors and investors, an active alumni network and most importantly, connections to future capital.
“Together, we have a phenomenal combined network of mentors, investors and startup entrepreneurs to help ensure the success of the nationwide accelerator programme," he adds.
"More importantly we have a track-record of giving startups access to funding, through New Zealand’s leading angel investment groups, as well as linkages to other top-tier investors, local and offshore.”
CDC general manager innovation Jamie Cairns says innovation energy is brimming in Christchurch and bringing Lightning Lab into the midst can only spark more ideas into reality and deliver better traction from entrepreneurial networks already thriving.
“In the past two years Christchurch has seen some incredible things come from the sheer audacity and drive in the community," he says.
"Lightning Lab will provide a springboard for that energy to take it to another level."