A business programme that improves business survival for Rotorua organisations is expanding to include pure start-ups to help with innovation.

More than 70 graduating organisations have completed Incubate, a 12-week intensive course designed for newer and smaller organisations, helping participants build the foundations of a successful enterprise.

Rotorua organisations that have been through the programme have a survival rate of 95 per cent.

Programme creator Darren McGarvie from Firestation said he was pleased with the outcomes and was looking for comparable results working with start-ups.

"We have been running Incubate for the last three years. Tracking the participants has shown that the vast majority of Rotorua graduates are still operating.

"This is a fantastic result. It's unfortunate that most small to medium enterprises have a short life span and a quarter fail in the year," he said.

"Research by the Institute of Directors shows only 30 per cent of small or medium enterprises celebrate their fifth birthday and only 10 per cent make it to double digits.

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"We are definitely helping improve those odds in Rotorua."

Mr McGarvie said Incubate was for organisations already trading.

"In the past, we have turned away applicants at the idea stage. We want to fill this gap in the market, so we've developed Activate. This is for people with an idea for a product, service or business to get them ready to launch."

Mr McGarvie was ready to replicate the success of Incubate with Activate. He attributed the success to the material presented and that execution was followed up with one-on-one coaching.

"Activate will follow the same model as Incubate. All sessions are focussed on implementation and execution. These are not theoretical courses. We provide best practice examples with tips for implementation. We share what we have done in our own business and why it works."

All participants needed to sign a pledge of commitment.

Mr McGarvie said the pledge was an important part of their programme as the programmes were subsidised by councils and economic development agencies.

"We have found it is a powerful way to really set the tone of the course. It highlights that it's not just about sitting in a room for a couple of hours a week. You need to be an active participant and then execute what you learn."

The programmes were subsidised with funding from Rotorua Lakes Council.

The retail cost is more than $3,000, but is reduced to $49 per week with support from the council, Firestation and Employers & Manufacturers Association BoP. There were a limited number of subsidies and free placements.

Free places are only for non-profit organisations.

Applications are now open for Incubate and Activate, with the programmes starting late October. For more information or to apply go to www.bit.ly/FS-Inc10