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Happy first birthday Unleash Space!

10 August 2018 marked exactly one year since Unleash Space threw open its doors for students who wanted to become part of the Unleash Space community and a champion for what the Space and the wider innovation and entrepreneurial community could offer.

“In the hours leading up to opening the doors for the very first time to recruit students to be our community builders and creative technologists, we were anxious that no-one would turn up. Our fears were allayed, when at 30 minutes before the doors opened, a huge queue formed, and we had 132 students walk in, and put their hands up to be involved. In that moment, I knew we were meeting a huge unmet demand across campus, and that Unleash Space would be a success,” says Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Director, Wendy Kerr.

“The planning behind Unleash Space took many months of collaborative effort within the various University faculties, external groups and potential donors. The Unleash Space development was a partnership between the Business School and the Faculty of Engineering. We both wanted everyone across faculties and disciplines to feel like it was ’their’ space. So we spent a lot of time consulting with stakeholders and students across the University and led a cross-faculty study tour of US university maker spaces to discover best practice for our adaptation,” Wendy says.

The students who came into Unleash Space on 10 August last year were prospective Creative Technologists – students who would assist others with learning how to use all the high-tech Create and Maker Space equipment, such as the laser-cutter and 3D printer. Others were interested in becoming part of the student-led team charged with growing and activating the community and promoting the Unleash Space as an entrepreneurial hub and a place where ideas can grow into ventures.

Darsel Keane, Associate Director of Unleash Space, worked alongside Wendy and the team, to take Unleash Space from its initial conception on a PowerPoint slide to a vibrant innovation and entrepreneurship hub. The space offers more than 150 workshops, seminars and events, to empower and enable technological awareness and skills, instil an entrepreneurial mindset and build an innovative and entrepreneurial capability, while helping them to prototype and create ventures for social or commercial impact.

Unleash Space soft launched in November 2017, with an official launch on 21 February 2018 at a special event where the Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern officially opened Unleash Space to the public.

“Looking back over the past year it is remarkable at what has been achieved. The impact is evident, not only have we created an iconic home for innovation and entrepreneurship at the University of Auckland, Unleash Space is enabling new curricular offerings to be created, the reshaping of existing curricular courses. We are also seeing a number of creative projects and exciting ventures launching out of our programmes and by having an accessible welcoming space, with support for students and staff. As we continue to execute against our strategy, the impact is only going to grow,” Darsel says.

The birthday celebrations were led by the student team and it was a fun opportunity to gather students and the Unleash community to mark the occasion. In carnival style, there was popcorn, candyfloss and cupcakes, with workshops running throughout the afternoon plus games and VR experiences.

The celebrations rounded off with a movie night with plenty of popcorn, pizza and drinks to keep everyone content as they watched ‘Generation Startup’, which documents the journey of six college graduates’ startups. The movie shows the reality of launching a startup and what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur.

The University raised $9.6 million in sponsorship to establish the space. The founding donors are Sir Owen G Glenn KNZM ONZM HonLLD, Beca, Chau Hoi Shuen Foundation, Hynds Foundation, Li Ka-Shing (Canada) Foundation and PwC.

For more information, visit the Unleash Space website.


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