All in for $1,000

12 June 2013

When the Business School embarked on the creation of an entrepreneurial ecosystem 10 years ago, no one knew what it meant, let alone whether it would be a success.

But two weeks ago the most obvious representation of that ecosystem, the student led-initiative Spark, had its Spark Ideas Challenge. Some 522 entrants (a 10% increase on last year) submitted their 1,000-word essay for a chance at a $1,000 prize, and judges had to shift through 365 ideas to find the winning 33.

The increase in numbers is not what makes this story so important - it is the fact that for the first time we had submissions from every faculty across the University. From international benchmark standards this is unprecedented and the breadth of participation is virtually unparalleled.

It is because of your trust and belief in what we are achieving at the Business School that we are able to have such an impact on our students. One of the winners, Lauren Hitchen, a PhD student from the Faculty of Education, had this to say:

“Thank you so much for putting me forward to be one of the winners who got to speak at the prize giving. I really enjoyed the experience. I am very glad I entered Spark, it is a wonderful opportunity. I really hope I can be a role model for more Faculty of Education students to enter.”

People like Lauren are the teachers of our future leaders and it’s wonderful students like her are taking an interest in innovation and entrepreneurship. We are hopeful this will ultimately be translated into more children becoming exposed to the excitement of innovation and entrepreneurship at an early stage in their development.

In addition, deans from other faculties are now also embracing the competition. All faculties award prizes and put up notices about the winners around their faculties.

On a slightly different note, earlier this month Spark’s 2004 CEO Fady Mishriki (an early winner of Spark before going on to co-found his own company PowerbyProxi) returned to the Business School to speak at our graduation ceremony.

Based on wireless power technology, the company is now one of New Zealand’s fastest growing and most exciting high-value manufacturing companies.

Watch the video of Fady Mishriki's speech at the Business School graduation (9:27)

Spark is sponsored by ANZ, Fonterra, Return on Science, UniServices, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, Hudson Gavin Martin, Ernst & Young, Lion, Delegat’s Wine Estate, Unlimited magazine and 90 Seconds TV.

Visit the Spark website