To support economic transformation and the creation of wealth in New Zealand, the Business School fosters a spirit of enterprise and innovation — a mindset grounded in a structure of flexible, adaptive and mutually-reinforcing elements.
The purpose of the Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (CfEL) is to nurture business-savvy scientists, engineers, technologists and creative professionals.
It is doing this by developing an entrepreneurial and innovation curriculum for The University of Auckland's Faculty of Business and Economics (the Business School) that is built on experiential learning and which draws on the expertise and insights of both the Business School faculty and the business community.
Spark has fostered the creation of 85 start-up ventures, which have collectively raised $90+ million in investment, employ 250+ people and sell their products and services into 30 countries. Some notable alumni companies include PowerbyProxi, Inro Technologies and Telemetry Research, as well as Fishpond, Down to Earth Systems, Coda Therapeutics, Transfercar, BrightMind Labs and Savy.
Launched in 2003 as a partnership between the Business School, other University faculties and its students, Spark is a highly successful entrepreneurial development programme and business planning competition that students are empowered to run.
Spark challenges students and staff to explore ways of creating businesses based on ideas or innovations arising from their studies and research or simply by thinking creatively. Originally modelled on similar programmes at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Cambridge, it has been adapted for the New Zealand business environment and is supported by a 10-session "vision-to-business" course run by the Business School in conjunction with The ICEHOUSE.
In addition to being well-supported by Business School students, Spark has been particularly influential within the faculties of Engineering, Science and Medicine — attracting participants who would otherwise not be exposed to business concepts. It is supported by the business community which contributes judges, mentors and speakers.
The ICEHOUSE is a development factory of owner managers and entrepreneurs that aims to shape the future of the New Zealand economy. It is a collaborative partnership between The University of Auckland Business School, BNZ, HP, Gen-i, Ernst & Young, Microsoft, Paul Diver and Grafton Consulting Group. The ICEHOUSE was named one of the Top 10 Technology Incubators of the World by Forbes magazine in 2010.
Since 2001, The ICEHOUSE has worked with more than 2,500 owner managers, from start-ups to established multi-million dollar companies, and has raised $50million in capital, to accelerate business growth and drive wealth creation.
Its success is driven by the success of the companies it works alongside, with The ICEHOUSE providing the knowledge, tools and contacts and the entrepreneurs and business owners doing the work to make their businesses internationally competitive.
The Entrepreneurs' Challenge recognises that new initiatives are resource intensive and can be prohibitively expensive for many small and medium enterprises (SMEs). It seeks to help high potential SMEs successfully execute initiatives that will ultimately create opportunity and prosperity for all New Zealanders.
A generous three-million dollar foundation gift from New Zealand philanthropist and businessman, Charles Bidwill, enabled the launch of The University of Auckland Business School Entrepreneurs' Challenge in 2009.
The Challenge provides assistance to selected high potential New Zealand SMEs, including:
- Mentoring by successful entrepreneurs and business executives.
- Access to the Entrepreneurs' Challenge's partners and networks.
- Priority consideration in the Business School’s internship.
- Experiential learning programmes.
- Profile building opportunities.
Up to one million dollars will be made available for investment each year.
Charles Bidwill's extraordinary gift will directly support some of New Zealand's highest potential SMEs and will indirectly inspire thousands of others. It is an exciting initiative that complements the spirit of enterprise and innovation already in place at The University of Auckland Business School.
For more information about past Challenge winners and critical dates for forthcoming events: