Tauranga's first festival of innovation completely sold out.

Groundswell organiser Stacey Jones of Priority One said more than 7000 people took part in the week-long festival, which wrapped up yesterday.

She said every event had a waiting list, from little lunch and learn sessions to the major forums with international speakers.

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More than 5000 attended the careers expo over Thursday and Friday.

One Ms Jones' biggest takeaways from the event was a quote from speaker Sinead O'Sullivan, a tech firm chief executive and aerospace engineer who has worked for Nasa: "You've got to blow up a lot of rockets before you launch one."

Ms Jones said it captured the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship, where being ready to take risks, fail fast and be bold were valued skills.

The festival had aimed to bring together local innovators and increase collaboration and she saw plenty of new connections being made throughout the week.

"There was a lot of 'oh, I didn't know you were out there', going on," Ms Jones said.

In a civic design challenge spread over the week, 24 locals took part in the Design The City Experiment.

Working alongside staff from Tauranga City Council's Innovation Lab and design thinking mentors, teams were asked for ideas that would improve the Willow St bus exchange and make bus users feel welcome, safe and valued.

Ms Jones was impressed by the honest and empathetic way the group talked about existing problems at the bus stop, including that bus users sometimes did not feel safe there, especially at night.

She said the prototyped solutions ranged from a totally transparent glass whare design that would have no dark corners, to installing a 24hr co-working space or a spot for coffee carts nearby so there would always be people around.

Mayor Greg Brownless liked the simplicity of some ideas presented during the experiment, such as using street art to make the bus stop brighter and more cheerful.

He was concerned by some of the reports of people feeling intimidated at the bus stop and said he would be speaking to police about what they could do to help.

Mr Brownless joked that he and some other councillors who visited the lab were "easily the oldest people there".

He said it was good to see young professionals turning their talents to civic issues.

The council was seeing more of that, he said, as people realised that if they want their city to be attractive and functional they needed to think beyond themselves and get involved.

Groundswell, Tauranga's inaugural festival of innovation

- 7000 attendees
- Seven days
- 19 events held around Tauranga
- 28 individual sessions

Record entries for Young Innovator Awards

There were a record-breaking 500 entries into this year's Young Innovator Awards, handed out last week during the Groundswell festival of innovation.

In the senior category, the winning idea was iBrite, an LED strip to help dyslexic students learn. It was invented by Tauranga Girls' College students Ashley Cundy, Callie-Jay Dobbs, Madison Sykes, Gabriella Eaton and Abby Herbison.

Otumoetai College student Emily Mahon's pressurised steering wheel cover, which could stop drivers texting, won the junior category.

In the intermediate school category, students were challenged to design a complicated machine to water a plant with a watering can.

The winner was Mount Intermediate students Benjamin Lindsey, Sam Peterson, Ben Goodjohn, Will Fraser, Tobias Scott and Daniel Whyte's design Lazy Teenager, a machine for a lazy teenager who could not be bothered getting up to water his plants.

This year's judges included former Nasa aerospace engineer, Sinead O'Sullivan, TBWA Group's award-winning managing director, Catherine Harris and Nike innovation developer, Wade Flanagan - Tauranga Boys' College alumni.