Report card from top world scholars

By Graham Skellern

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

Staff from the renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) will produce a scorecard of Auckland and NZ's innovation system, and the results should be favourable.

Institute professors Edward Roberts and Scott Stern, will lead a three-day MIT Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Programm workshop in Auckland from March 25-27.

Roberts, an expert on advanced technology management, is the founder and chairman of the Trust Centre for MIT Entrepreneur ship. Stern, a leading author on innovation, heads the MIT Sloan School's technological innovation, entrepreneurship and strategic management faculty. They will be joined by Bill Aulet, managing director of the Sloan School's trust centre, and Fiona Murray, the trust centre's faculty director and associate professor of technological innovation, entrepreneurship and strategic management. They will present the latest research on innovation and entrepreneurship, and the drivers that create an effective innovation ecosystem and transform local economies.

Under the spotlight will be three local projects - the Wynyard Quarter Innovation Precinct and The FoodBowl in Auckland and the Wellington-based Lightning Lab, New Zealand's first digital accelerator designed to get start-ups funded and operating within three months.

Brett O'Riley, chief executive of Auckland, Tourism and Economic Development (Ateed) and a member of the New Zealand regional team, says the workshop is an opportunity "to benchmark what we are doing in terms of innovation with other parts of the world.

"The MIT staff are global thought leaders on innovation, and we have to ensure that innovation does create a step change in our economic Top scholars' report card growth.

We need to produce hard, bottom line results for Auckland and the country.

"We also need to understand in more detail what is the best practice for accelerators compared with the more traditional incubation area."

The MIT staff have developed a two-year acceleration programme based on the Cambridge/Boston innovation ecosystem.

The Cambridge Innovation Centre in the Greater Boston region is close to MIT and Harvard University, while the Boston Innovation Centre was established on the other side of the Charles River.

The two precincts are in "the white hot centre of start-up activity and focus on entrepreneurial population density." The entrepreneurs share working spaces and are eager to collaborate, and the precincts help new ventures gain access to funding and venture capital partnerships.

Auckland should score well in this regard.

The Wynyard Quarter Innovation Precinct and The FoodBowl are based on critical mass and connections, and the participants share resources and common issues.

The MIT programme involves regional teams from Britain, Turkey, Spain, Finland, China, the US, Mexico and New Zealand, made up of representatives from economic development agencies, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, corporates and universities, intent on designing strong innovation ecosystems.

The NZ team is leader Joseph Stuart, a principal business adviser; O'Riley; Peter Rose, a project director; David Beard, partner in MOVAC venture capital firm; and Professor Ian Town, deputy vice-chancellor of Canterbury University.

- NZ Herald

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