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Summer Lab sparks new entrepreneurs

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2019 is off to an entrepreneurial start for 68 eager students who have entered our fourth Summer Lab programme.

Summer Lab is one of the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s most popular innovation and entrepreneurship programmes for budding entrepreneurs who have little experience or knowledge about what it takes to develop a venture. Offered as a free six-week programme to all students and staff of the University of Auckland, this year it has attracted a diverse group who have split into 15 teams, each with a unique venture idea they want to develop into a business.

Pivotal to the success of the Summer Lab programme is the mentorship received from industry experts. That’s why we are so appreciative of the 19 mentors who are volunteering their time to mentor and develop the next generation of entrepreneurial thinkers and doers.

In Week Two, student teams pitched their ideas to mentors at a special event where mentors got to indicate the teams they were inspired to work with. Now they are lending their expertise to help support and guide teams to develop their venture ideas.

Patrick Barciela, an industrial engineer and Water Products and Innovation Manager at Hynds, is mentoring one of the teams:  

“Summer Lab is giving me the chance to stay connected with learning and teaching environments in an innovative way. I really enjoy working with the students and sharing learnings and experiences with them,” Patrick says.

“For the team I am working with, the initial excitement gave way to some frustrations while searching for the “golden” problem to be solved. Business opportunities are not found overnight, but if the students embrace the get-out-of-the-building mentality and start testing their hypotheses early, they will discover infinite opportunities for refinement. I love the way Summer Lab promotes the lean approach and other useful tools. At the end of the programme, the students will walk out with a practical toolkit and a whole lot of valuable experiences.”

Summer Lab is facilitated by Dr Jamie Newth from the Department of Management and International Business at the University of Auckland Business School. Jamie lectures in Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University, including courses within the Master of Commercialisation and Entrepreneurship. He is a popular facilitator amongst Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship programme participants and has facilitated a variety of programmes over the past three years. His industry work combined with academic research makes him one of New Zealand’s leading experts in social entrepreneurship and impact investment.

Amongst the cohort are eight students from Shantou University who have travelled from China to join in the Summer Lab programme. This is the fourth year that we have partnered with Shantou University to offer their students this unique and exciting experience.

Ruolin Han is studying mechanical engineering at Shantou University. She says she is hoping to gain some practical business experience, a deeper understanding of business concepts as well as improve her English speaking skills.

She values the opportunity to make new friends, be immersed in another culture and participate in the programme, which she notes is a “refreshing learning style” compared to back home. “There is so much interaction and opinions are highly valued here compared to in China. I am shy personally but I find it not so difficult to make new friends here,” she says. She plans to go on to study a business masters at Shantou.

Summer Lab culminates with participants pitching to a range of entrepreneurs, investors and venture capitalists. For some, participating in Summer Lab will give them the confidence and courage to start their own venture while still studying.

For others, the practical skills and entrepreneurial mindset taught will be applied in other ways such as how they approach opportunities and challenges, their study and future work either as their own boss or within an organisation.


For information on the Summer Lab programme, see here.

Interested in getting involved to lend your support as a volunteer mentor, speaker or judge?  
Find out more here.

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