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University of Auckland delivers New Zealand’s largest summer entrepreneurship programme

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1 March 2021

107 students from across the University of Auckland came together to participate in the sixth annual Summer Lab entrepreneurship development programme, making it the largest cohort to date. The diverse group formed 18 teams to develop solutions to problems framed around the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 

Delivered by the Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the four-week intensive programme is open to students of all faculties, designed to inspire and ignite the entrepreneur within everyone through action-oriented learning. It involves rapid prototyping, workshops and opportunities to hear from and be mentored by entrepreneurs and industry leaders. It also gives introductions to tools and frameworks that shape innovative thinking. By the end of the programme, participants are equipped with all the essential skills needed to turn an idea into a business venture. 

“Every year it’s really exciting to see the development of the participants’ entrepreneurial capabilities which we see through their communication skills, ability to work in teams and ability to understand and put to practice core innovation and entrepreneurship principles, through to the development of MVPs and formal pitching,” says facilitator Jamie Newth, a lecturer at the University of Auckland Business School and CEO of impact investment organisation Soul Capital.

Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Programme Coordinator Jessica Schneider says, “In just four weeks, Summer Lab changes entire mindsets. The programme gives students the confidence to approach problems instead of avoiding them. It teaches them that making a mistake is an opportunity to grow and the best way to test their assumptions. Summer Lab is a safe space where everyone will try, fail, try again. It’s not just business skills – it’s life skills.”

The majority of Summer Lab was held in Unleash Space, the University of Auckland’s vibrant innovation and entrepreneurship hub featuring a state-of-the-art maker space. Students were engaged and highly motivated throughout the programme, even when workshops and check-ins were suddenly moved online in response to Auckland going into Covid alert level 3.

A highlight for Jessica was seeing the culmination of all the students’ hard work when they pitched their ideas to a panel of esteemed judges at the end of the programme. Teams presented a diverse range of innovative solutions including a patch for supporting people with epilepsy and their families, biodegradable shampoo and better studio access for starting musicians. 

“We’re really proud of this year’s Summer Lab students for the way that they embraced the challenges that we put in front of them. In particular, how they threw themselves into the task of exploring the problem space that underpinned their new venture idea. Also, the way they approached their market validation to really test the assumptions that they had about their opportunity. The ideas were really diverse and exciting, ranging from those that are solving social and environmental challenges through to scalable commercial opportunities,” says Jamie.

Feedback from participants has been incredibly positive, with many students commenting on how the programme helped them become more comfortable with change, uncertainty, and risk. Postgraduate Science student Nicole Short says, “My mind is now more open to change, more than I thought I could be. When confronted with change, instead of thinking ‘Oh no, I couldn’t do that,’ I now think ‘Well, I probably could do that.”

Velocity Team 2020
Velocity Team 2020

social media

1 March 2021

107 students from across the University of Auckland came together to participate in the sixth annual Summer Lab entrepreneurship development programme, making it the largest cohort to date. The diverse group formed 18 teams to develop solutions to problems framed around the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 

Delivered by the Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the four-week intensive programme is open to students of all faculties, designed to inspire and ignite the entrepreneur within everyone through action-oriented learning. It involves rapid prototyping, workshops and opportunities to hear from and be mentored by entrepreneurs and industry leaders. It also gives introductions to tools and frameworks that shape innovative thinking. By the end of the programme, participants are equipped with all the essential skills needed to turn an idea into a business venture. 

“Every year it’s really exciting to see the development of the participants’ entrepreneurial capabilities which we see through their communication skills, ability to work in teams and ability to understand and put to practice core innovation and entrepreneurship principles, through to the development of MVPs and formal pitching,” says facilitator Jamie Newth, a lecturer at the University of Auckland Business School and CEO of impact investment organisation Soul Capital.

Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Programme Coordinator Jessica Schneider says, “In just four weeks, Summer Lab changes entire mindsets. The programme gives students the confidence to approach problems instead of avoiding them. It teaches them that making a mistake is an opportunity to grow and the best way to test their assumptions. Summer Lab is a safe space where everyone will try, fail, try again. It’s not just business skills – it’s life skills.”

The majority of Summer Lab was held in Unleash Space, the University of Auckland’s vibrant innovation and entrepreneurship hub featuring a state-of-the-art maker space. Students were engaged and highly motivated throughout the programme, even when workshops and check-ins were suddenly moved online in response to Auckland going into Covid alert level 3.

A highlight for Jessica was seeing the culmination of all the students’ hard work when they pitched their ideas to a panel of esteemed judges at the end of the programme. Teams presented a diverse range of innovative solutions including a patch for supporting people with epilepsy and their families, biodegradable shampoo and better studio access for starting musicians. 

“We’re really proud of this year’s Summer Lab students for the way that they embraced the challenges that we put in front of them. In particular, how they threw themselves into the task of exploring the problem space that underpinned their new venture idea. Also, the way they approached their market validation to really test the assumptions that they had about their opportunity. The ideas were really diverse and exciting, ranging from those that are solving social and environmental challenges through to scalable commercial opportunities,” says Jamie.

Feedback from participants has been incredibly positive, with many students commenting on how the programme helped them become more comfortable with change, uncertainty, and risk. Postgraduate Science student Nicole Short says, “My mind is now more open to change, more than I thought I could be. When confronted with change, instead of thinking ‘Oh no, I couldn’t do that,’ I now think ‘Well, I probably could do that.”


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