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Explore the history of our role in building New Zealand’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

History of the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship


2018 – Creation of the VentureLab incubator

2018 Creation of the VentureLab incubator

The University of Auckland’s incubator is designed to support students and staff who have developed a venture concept by further developing their capability and giving them the expertise, space and resource to fully ignite their idea.


2016 – Spark rebrands as Velocity

2016 – Spark rebrands as Velocity

When Spark was first named it was to convey the spark of an idea – of possibility and potential. As the Centre enters the next phase of support for student entrepreneurs in New Zealand, the founding programme’s name is changed to reflect the changing pace that ventures need to proceed at in the modern world. The pace of growth will be further enabled by the Centre’s upcoming new support services and facilities.


2015 – Centre expansion

2015 – Centre expansion

In late 2015, the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship receives $1.1m over three years from the University of Auckland Business School’s Endowment Fund for the purpose of increasing the size and scope of programmes delivered. The Centre creates a new and ambitious vision to lead and empower innovation and entrepreneurship in the southern hemisphere. To quantify this vision, the Centre aims to engage 10% of the student population by 2020. The target figure of 10% is chosen purposefully. Research and practice in Organisational Development shows that when 10% of an organisation start to change their attitude and behaviours this becomes the tipping point for culture change.


2014 – Top 5 status from MIT in entrepreneurial education

2014 – Top 5 status from MIT in entrepreneurial education

The University of Auckland is identified as one of the world’s top five “emerging leaders in entrepreneurship” expected to become a major international innovation powerhouse in the decades ahead. The Spark entrepreneurship programme is noted as “the beating heart of entrepreneurship at the university”. The MIT Skoltech Initiative conducted a two-year study to find the world’s best university-based entrepreneurial ecosystems operating outside the technology-driven innovation hubs of MIT, Stanford University and the University of Cambridge. The report, which says the University of Auckland offers an exciting blueprint for other universities operating in similar circumstances across the world, was written to offer insights into how universities can transform their institutions toward a more entrepreneurial model, particularly in environments that may not be naturally conducive to entrepreneurship and innovation.


2012 – Creation of the Master of Commercialisation and Entrepreneurship

2012 – Creation of the Master of Commercialisation and Entrepreneurship

The Master of Commercialisation and Entrepreneurship was designed to give participants the knowledge and skills to successfully commercialise new products, services and processes based on research discoveries, inventions and new ideas.


2009 – Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship established

The University of Auckland Business School formally establishes a Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship to create the infrastructure to maintain and grow entrepreneurial education at the University of Auckland. In its first iteration, the Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning is founded to foster entrepreneurship, innovation and business growth.


2004 – Creation of Chiasma

2004 Creation of Chiasma

Chiasma is a national New Zealand organisation that creates links between academia and the wider science, technology and engineering (STEM) industries, with the purpose of helping members to develop a successful and innovative career. Chiasma was launched in September 2004 by Priv Bradoo, Swati Sharma and Daniel Sun, three PhD students in the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, with support from staff at the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.


2003 – Creation of the Spark student entrepreneurship programme

2003 – Creation of the Spark student entrepreneurship programme

The University of Auckland responded to the country’s productivity and development challenges by building the platform for a regional entrepreneurial ecosystem. At the heart of this was Spark, the entrepreneurial-development programme and business planning competition that students were empowered to run.


2001 – Knowledge Wave conference

Catching the Knowledge Wave was one of the biggest meeting of minds to take place in New Zealand history. The conference hosted about 450 academics, officials, politicians, economists and business leaders who discussed ways of lifting New Zealand’s economic performance. Led by the New Zealand Prime Minister and the Vice Chancellor of the University of Auckland, it was a catalyst for the realisation that New Zealand could no longer remain primarily a producer of agricultural  commodities but instead transform itself to a high-value, knowledge-based economy. The Knowledge Wave conference was the catalyst for the University of Auckland taking an increasing proactive role in the formative years of those who are to become our countries leading business-savvy scientists and engineers.