Student entrepreneurs showcase business ideas

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Young entrepreneurs provide feedback to sponsors on the start-up mentoring programme.
Young entrepreneurs provide feedback to sponsors on the start-up mentoring programme.

Sponsors and coaches are delighted with the outcome of Tauranga's first fulltime summer programme to foster university students with entrepreneurial business ideas.

Project Ignite took 10 local students - five each from the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic and the University of Waikato - through a 10 week fulltime programme. The programme concluded with a showcase of the students' business ideas at Tauranga's Ignition co-working space on Tuesday evening.

"They had three days a week of one-on-one coaching, but were working on their own, just as entrepreneurs do," said lead startup coach Tina Jennen. "You have to be self-motivated to be an entrepreneur."

She is chief executive of agri-tech focused Plus Group, which was one of the sponsors, along with Ballance Agri-Nutrients, Priority One and the Ignition co-working space, which hosted the students.

The Project Ignite Scholarships programme was established in partnership with the University of Waikato, Bay of Plenty Polytechnic and Ignition to support and cultivate innovative talent. The programme offered students entrepreneurial experience and mentorship to help fast-track their ideas into new ventures and network with the local Bay of Plenty innovation community.

"The scholarship provided students the opportunity to grow innovative ideas into real-world ventures," said Ms Jennen.

The ideas could be either for-profit or not-for-profit. (see box for details of the students and their ideas) The programme provided a unique tailored hands-on experience for participants to progress their ideas through to start-up ventures, said Ms Jennen. This included group and individual activities, guidance by expert start-up coaches, inspirational speakers, practical how-to sessions, access to specialist mentors and help with applications for seed-funding.

Ms Jennen said she had been working at Plus Group to bring in more social science-focused research projects. "Building technology and growing through commercialising science is core to what we do, but if you don't build the people capability then things can fall over.

"Projects like this are key and help tie together the local entrepreneurial ecosystem," Ms Jennen said.

Priority One's Greg Simmonds said Project Ignite was a first for the Bay. "It gave the students an opportunity to take part in a learn-by-doing experience to take their innovative ideas through to real world ventures," he said.

Project Ignite students and ideas:

* Scott Callaghan - Home alert system for natural disasters.

* Hayden Goudswaard & Michael Redstall - Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle.

* Julien Huteau - Extracting value from aquaculture waste.

* Georgia Meek - Babysitters app service with fully vetted babysitters on demand.

* Kiri Reihana - E-Probe for instant sediment/pollution measurement in waterways.

* Tasman Roach - Storytelling through indigenous clothing design.

* Teddy Stanway - Leadership development through rugby clinics for international youth.

* Luke Sygrove - Downloaded walking tours with authentic storytelling of local sites.

* Sasha Turfrey - Shared commercial kitchen fostering collaboration and creativity.

* Student intern Josh Saunders also took part.

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