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Researcher Hatchery:

A gateway to transforming research into impactful innovations 


Knowledge mobilisation and developing skills in entrepreneurship empower researchers to make an exponential impact. The Researcher Hatchery is designed to assist you in making an impact with your research by assessing its social or commercial entrepreneurial application. 

By participating in the hatchery, you will discover how your research may have an impact or commercial opportunity, and how to deliver on this, while also gaining transferable skills supporting your next project or career.  

In 2024, CIE will offer two Researcher Hatcheries, taking place in March-June and August-November.

Applications for the November cohorts will be opening later this year.

Programme structure

The Researcher Hatchery is an innovative 12-week programme designed to help researchers take their research beyond the academic sphere, assessing its potential practical application and societal implications.

By leveraging a variety of tools, including online learning, group sessions, in-person workshops, customer interviews, and market feedback, participants are poised to discover how their research may have a far-reaching impact or unlock commercial opportunities. 

Learning outcomes

Throughout the Hatchery programme, participants will learn about and apply and test how to translate their research project into practical applications

Who should apply

The Researcher Hatchery is open to University of Auckland researchers of all disciplines, from doctoral students to professors.  

The Researcher Hatchery is perfect for motivated individuals or teams who are enthusiastic about exploring the real-world applications of their research. Whether the potential lies in commercialisation or societal impact, the programme helps participants harness the potential of their research.

All applications are shared with UniServices, ensuring that your research receives optimal protection and comprehensive support. 



This programme enables participants to be better able to:

  • identify opportunities for social and commercial impact
  • design research projects that meet a need in society and/or the economy
  • undertake transdisciplinary research,
  • prepare your venture idea for potential investment, such as from the $40m evergreen University of Auckland’s Inventors’ Fund

Timing and commitment

The time commitment for the Researcher Hatchery is around 8 hours per week for the 12-week programme. By applying to the programme, you commit to partake fully.

Important dates and time commitments for Researcher Hatchery COHORT 1:

15 March – Kick off event

Weekly check-ins on Mondays in between

19 April – Mid-way workshop

Weekly check-ins on Mondays in between

Weekly check-ins via Zoom on Wednesdays in between

14 June –  Final presentation

16 August – Kick off event

Weekly check-ins on Mondays in between

13 September – Mid-way workshop

Weekly check-ins on Mondays in between

Weekly check-ins via Zoom on Wednesdays in between

8 November – Final presentation

Final Presentation

Your journey with the Researcher Hatchery culminates in a final presentation where you share your findings with the group. Depending on the nature of your project, this presentation may serve as a pathway into other programmes and/or funding opportunities. 


No Charge. While there is no charge to join the programme, there is a cost to the University. Therefore, all applications will be assessed to ensure the best outcome for you and the University.

Facilitation team

Duncan Ledwith

Since moving to New Zealand from Scotland in 2005, Duncan Ledwith has been a driving force in the local start-up ecosystem through mentorship, education, investment, and more. He is widely recognised as a leading expert in market validation and has been involved in the Icehouse and CIE from the very start. His areas of expertise include early-stage and technology investing, international market entry, large-scale strategic partnerships, building international sales revenue, and science commercialisation. He has founded several successful start-ups and held senior leadership positions at Microsoft from 1990 to 2005. In 2022, Duncan was honoured as one of the Business School’s Star Volunteers for his unwavering support of Velocity and CIE programmes. We are thrilled to have Duncan on board as one of our Hatchery managers this year. 



Craig Squire

Born in South Africa, Craig grew up in the Hawkes Bay and graduated from Victoria University with a BA/LLB.  Initially a finance lawyer, Craig moved into Investment banking during his decade abroad in the UK. Craig returned to NZ, becoming a full-time Dad to his two girls while also managing several property development projects, investing in multiple start-ups, and starting two companies of his own (solar and sustainable property development in conjunction with local authorities). Craig has been involved in the Auckland tech start-up community since joining Ice Angels in 2011.  In 2016 he completed a Masters in Innovation and Commercialisation at the University of Auckland’s Business School.  This led to his involvement with most of NZ’s Crown Research Institutes (as well as Kiwinet directly), consulting on projects ranging from whole-portfolio and IP reviews and the provision of strategic advice to individual technology engagements, including both licencing and spin-outs. Craig’s sweet spot is complex technology that requires market validation.   As a consultant, he specialised in market discovery – the on-the-ground engagement with potential customers to discover the problems worth solving and the product-market fit. With many years of engaging with complex science and potential customers and investors, Craig’s experience helps founders and early-stage investors move forward with confidence. Ensuring that the big questions have been asked and answered and a clear path to market (where identified) is able to be articulated.


Elisabeth Vaneveld

Elisabeth is a strategist, leader and facilitator working in New Zealand’s creative sector. Her experience includes establishing start-up organisations, designing programmes, devising productions, managing tours, organising festivals, activating projects, developing partnerships, building networks and facilitating change.  For ten years, she held senior roles at Creative New Zealand (until 2006) and until June 2016, she was Executive Director of The Big Idea Te Aria Nui Trust, a creative/social enterprise which provides a range of services, including the online home of New Zealand’s creative sector @ of The Big Idea in 2000 and development lead, including platform upgrades, Elisabeth established TBI Assist as the revenue generation arm. A key project was the design and delivery for Te Taumata Toi-a-iwi of ART Venture, a unique, world-leading acceleration programme for creative entrepreneurs working in Auckland.  She was the inaugural Director:Creative Entrepreneurship in the Faculty of Creative Arts & Industries at the University of Auckland from 2017 to December 2020. In 2019, she was awarded an MNZM for her services to arts management. Her current projects include Hauraki Gulf Watershed, NZ Dance Festival Trust/Tempo Te Rerenga o Tere, Tāmaki Makaurau Dance Enquiry and CreaTer – a national alliance of creative arts educators working in the tertiary education sector.  Her specialties are Strategic leadership, change management, project management, group facilitation, team development, strategic business planning; online community development; creative sector strategy & policy development/implementation.



How to apply

Please apply as early as possible, as applications are assessed as they are received.

  • Limited places are available. 
  • Individual or team applications accepted
  • Research with either potential commercial or societal impact will be considered

Important Note: Your applications will be shared with UniServices, to ensure your research receives protection and maximum support. 

Applications for the November cohorts will be opening later this year.



“Participating in the Researcher Hatchery programme was an opportunity for me to learn the skills necessary to actively push our research towards commercialisation. I learned so much. The programme has taught me the importance of early engagement with potential customers. What we thought was an ‘important research need’ was only our assumption/hypothesis as researchers and could be very different to what customers view as important. The programme has given us a practical skill set to engage potential customers to test our hypothesis.”

Haruna Suzuki-Kerr
Research Fellow – Medical and Health Sciences