Sophie Ryan is online editor for the Business Herald

Connected cat's eyes fast tracked to the world

A Christchurch start-up developing cat's eyes that can collect big data on traffic and conditions on our roads is one of ten to be selected for fast-tracking through Vodafone's innovation lab.

SolarBright is one of ten start-ups and SMEs chosen to take part in Vodafone xone, a business accelerator designed to nurture the best ideas and Kiwi talent in the research and commercialisation of world-class technology.

The company has been around for nine years and its founders husband and wife team Pat and Nicola Martin have focused on solar road-side lighting.

Pat Martin has since been designing cat's eyes that can track big data and transmit it to a device that can build a picture of the roading conditions like weather, traffic flows and air quality.

Pat Martin said he was interested in the opportunities Vodafone presented in terms of taking his design to the world.

"Vodafone is a beast all over the world. We're trying to take our technology globally... so to have such a beast is a perfect partnership."

Connectivity is a key factor in his cat's eyes reliability, so having access to a closed network in Vodafone xone for trials would be useful he said.

Vodafone's consumer director Matt Williams said the ten companies were selected from more than 170 applications.

"We wanted to spread our wings a bit and get involved with a broader set of companies. There's a bit of golden age of entreprenuership in New Zealand."

Each company will receive a total package worth more than $150,000, including
$25,000 in seed-funding and mentoring as part of a six-month programme.

Vodafone xone and SolarBright are based in central Christchurch.

"Christchurch is a real technology and innovation hub for New Zealand," Williams said.

"There's a huge amount of energy and activity there."

Callaghan Innovation has committed $900,000 to Vodafone xone over the next three years to help fund the Innovation Lab for research and development. The facility, containing specialised technology worth $19 million, will be open to the xone companies.

- NZ Herald

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