Photo: George Benwell and Nigel Bamford
Dunedin is giving home-grown business ideas every opportunity to grow. The city has just launched a StartUp Space to provide an incubation centre for business people, students and non-students, to develop their business ideas.
It is financed by the Grow Dunedin Partnership which is leading Dunedin’s Economic Development Strategy, and is a joint University of Otago, Otago Polytechnic and Dunedin City Council project arising from the strategy.
Located on the edge of campus in a university building on the corner of Forth St and Leithbank the StartUp Space offers Dunedin entrepreneur’s desk space for up to a year, experts to consult with, and invaluable collegial support.
It will host entrepreneurial seminars and events, and its aim is to grow into a single space focus for Dunedin and Otago entrepreneurial innovation.
The space has been developed in response to the need for integrated support for entrepreneurs in the city, identified in the City’s Economic Development Strategy.
Business School Dean Professor George Benwell said the centre is designed to give entrepreneurs practical space to work, and a nurturing environment to learn the skills and develop the confidence they need to take their concept further.
“We are equipping emerging business people to take their entrepreneurial skills into the world by providing the nurturing and the support to help them flourish.”
“Dunedin, including its tertiary institutions,is a magnet for innovation, so this is an excellent way of harnessing that adventurous spirit, helping students and non-students develop ideas into realistic business propositions.”
University and Polytechnic students in the Audacious programme are already developing business ideas from the building, and it’s hoped to attract and support other Dunedin and Otago business people wanting a place to develop a new initiative.
Otago Polytechnic Research and Enterprise Director Alistair Regan said it will fill some of the gap between the ideas developed through seeding initiatives such as the Audacious challenge, and the forming ofa commercial entity.
“There have been many great ideas for projects that have found themselves with nowhere to go to get themselves established. This StartUp Space provides a physical area, but also offers support and nurturing to our students and the wider community to step up and help with economic growth for New Zealand.
Dunedin City Council Des Adamson said the space is a true town-grown collaborative approach – something that is special to Dunedin and Otago.
“Dunedin is well recognised for its innovation. We need an incubator to ensure Dunedin entrepreneurs at that very early stage have every opportunity to stay here to create their new businesses; we’re expecting new business to flow from that supportive ecosystem.”
A non intrusive style will be used to manage the space, an approach Mr Adamson believes will be productive. “What we're doing is giving innovators the office and the opportunity of gaining business acumen to help them to plot their own course. It is a hub for entrepreneurs to share ideas and services, and work out their issues with support as and when required.”
The Space has also had input from the Dunedin business community, guided by Escea Managing Director Nigel Bamford who is on the Advisory Board along with Mr Regan and Professor Benwell.
November 13, 2014