Join me in keeping Kiwi entrepreneurism alive says Charles Bidwill

12 September 2013

Tim Alpe, CEO, Jucy Rentals

When the next lot of keen young companies compete later this year for a stake in yet another $1 million of funding available from the Business School Entrepreneurs’ Challenge, one ex-pat Kiwi on the other side of the world will smile with contentment.

For donor Charles Bidwill, his idea of pitting entrepreneurial companies against one another has hit its stride – and it’s everything he wanted it to be.

“The UABS Entrepreneurs’ Challenge has been a great success due to the Business School itself being entrepreneurial in taking the challenge on,” says Bidwill from his UK base. “The results, and the interest shown in it, are way above my original expectations and shows that entrepreneurism in New Zealand is alive and well and augurs well for the future.”

Bidwill has also convinced another of his New Zealand-based friends to support the venture with a further $1 million added to the fund last year.

“I won’t reveal their name, but needless to say they, like me, have got a very real interest in seeing New Zealand being globally competitive. I’d love others to join us, as it’s really exciting finding out which companies have entered and how they make it through the process. We’ve only had one fall over so far… so the selection process and the mentoring and support provided afterwards are obviously very important and helpful to these companies.”

This year 11 qualifiers are contending for a share in the money, including a skin cancer specialist, organic ice cream producer, lingerie manufacturer and a company that deals with surplus food products.

New investment committee chairman Greg Cross says the diversity of this year’s entrants shows that the five-year-old Challenge is maturing into a competition seen by both new and established companies as not only a source of funding but a tangible award that is coveted by New Zealand’s export businesses and considered a sign of quality, respect and success.

“This competition is moving beyond the initial establishment stage and into a prized competition fiercely contested and ranked among the highest business competitions in the country,” says Cross.

Finalists have been announced and the awards ceremony will be held on 10 October. The Entrepreneurs’ Challenge, set up with $3 million in funding from Charles Bidwill, was first competed for in 2009 and has provided funding for ten New Zealand companies so far.