Massey University ecentre’s new chief executive Jackie Young wants the business incubator to take some of its own advice.
From its base on Massey University’s Auckland campus, the ecentre has helped entrepreneurs scale up their businesses for 16 years, she says, and now it’s time for the ecentre to increase the reach of that work.
“I see lots of opportunities to innovate and scale up our services, to make the knowledge that has been built up over the years here more accessible to more people,” she says.
“We have got to walk the talk. If you are promoting innovation and entrepreneurship, you have to be innovative and entrepreneurial.”
While Young says it is important for the ecentre to remain at the heart of its community north of the Auckland Harbour Bridge, New Zealand is a small player on the international stage and innovation districts need to work together.
“I am really keen to work with other institutions with an interest in entrepreneurship – the more we can work together, the better we all are collectively,” she says.
“We can also share our know-how through more innovative training and learning platforms.
“Technology and online education delivery have the ability to really expand ecentre’s reach so I would like to see that happen.”
A passion for entrepreneurship
Young comes to the ecentre from the Media Design School, where she was responsible for industry engagement, entrepreneurship initiatives and product development and innovation.
This included overseeing the school’s Game Development Accelerator Programmme.
She has had a long career in marketing and communications within the tech sector and says she has always been drawn to the passion of entrepreneurs.
“The ecentre entrepreneurs are incredibly brave. I have so much respect for them because it’s not an easy path – but they are tenacious and passionate.
“I love being part of the support mechanism that helps founders move from the ideas stage all the way through market validation and then accelerating and growing their business.
"That’s where I feel I can add value," she says.
Great networks key to success
Since starting at the ecentre in May, Young has been busy integrating her own connections into the ecentre’s networks and meeting ecentre alumni.
“One of the things I’ve heard again and again is how much our alumni value the connections they have made through the ecentre," Young says.
"A good network is one of the really key things founders need, so our close affiliation with the University and the local business community is invaluable to them.
“Along with investors and startups, working more closely with the University will be a key focus for me in the coming year," she adds.
"I really want to give students an opportunity to develop their skills – they are a built-in community that could really benefit from the ecentre’s services.”
She says it is more important than ever for students, and others, to develop the skills associated with entrepreneurship.
“The ecentre wants to cultivate the entrepreneurial skills that are relevant to startups, but those skills also create value more generally through fostering innovation and problem-solving,” she says.
“Resilience, initiative, risk-taking, adaptability, resourcefulness and creativity all prepare people to succeed in the rapidly changing workplaces of the 21st century.”