Turning ideas into cash

26 May 2010

A new way of preventing memory loss in seniors and technologies which aim to tackle obesity and youth suicide are some of the winning business ideas of the Spark Ideas Challenge, run by The University of Auckland's student-led entrepreneurship organisation (Spark).

Twenty winners, which each received $1,000 in prize money, were announced last night at a function held at the Owen G Glenn Building.

Guest speaker was Geoff Ross, founder of 42 BELOW and more recently the Business Bakery, told the 445 budding entrepreneurs, who entered the challenge, that they and their ideas were vital for the future of New Zealand.

“New Zealand needs you now rather badly, and I have to say, I know it will need you even more in the future.”

Other winning ideas included ways of addressing the dangers of cycling, a viral campaign which promotes random acts of kindness, a novel device for the diagnosis of common gastrointestinal diseases and a new method for the delivery of cancer drugs to tumours.

Judge Melanie Beattie of Ernst & Young said: “The winners were not only able to demonstrate a novel product or service but identify and articulate a real market opportunity”.

Spark awarded 10 prizes of $1,000 for the best commercial ideas, 10 prizes of $1,000 for the best social entrepreneurship ideas and a further three special prizes for the best engineering, computer science and biotechnology entries (see below for a list of winners).

The winners were picked from 286 entries, including 110 from postgraduate students and 34 university staff. The competition was open to everyone; the only stipulation was that teams had to include one University of Auckland student or staff member.

“This level of involvement each year is a clear indication that Spark is successfully carrying out its mission, developing New Zealanders who strive to be innovative and entrepreneurial no matter their field of expertise” says Spark CEO Graeme Fielder.

Spark is supported by its foundation partners The University of Auckland Business School and The ICEHOUSE and its gold partners; Ernst & Young, Auckland UniServices, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, and Tech NZ - the business programme for the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology.

If the ideas are developed, all those who entered have another chance of obtaining funding with the Spark $100k Challenge, Spark’s flagship business plan competition. The overall winner, announced in late October, will win $20,000 in seed capital and 6 months of incubation time at The ICEHOUSE, the university’s business incubator.

2010 Spark Ideas Challenge winners


Commercial Entrepreneurship category winners

  • The G.I. Joes
  • MolSeek
  • CarboCarriers
  • Origin EggNog
  • Nano-Brush
  • Thermoheal
  • Project Freedom
  • Simple Open Audio Platform - The SOAP Box
  • eMusicPage
  • Healthy Memory Company Ltd

Social Entrepreneurship category winners

  • Fat-Health Scanner
  • Bread in Bloom
  • P3 Foundation
  • Flash Mobs for Social Good
  • OneBeep
  • EqualAccess
  • Employable
  • Perspective
  • CycleBest
  • Vital Gifts

Special prizes

  • Chiasma I-Volve Bio Technology award
  • The G.I. Joes

Engineering award

  • One Beep

Computer Science award

  • Project Freedom