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Summer Lab

Applications for the 2024 Summer Lab programme have now closed. Check back in August 2024 for the 2025 Summer Lab programme, or explore the may other opportunities available at CIE throughout the year!

Start-up your summer with this international award-winning programme.

  • FREE for all current students and staff of the University of Auckland,
  • No prior experience with innovation, entrepreneurship or business is required,
  • Join with or without an idea for a problem to solve

Programme commitment: This is a 4-week programme starting on Monday 22 January (see dates below). The time commitment is approximately 40 hours in the first week and 20 hours per week for the following 3 weeks. 

Location: Summer Lab is an in-person experience conducted at the University of Auckland city campus at the Centre for innovation and Entrepreneurship Unleash Space. Remote learning is not available for this programme.

Applications close on 1st November 2023 (Spaces are limited and allocated on a first-come, first-served basis).


About Summer Lab

Summer Lab is a 4-week accelerated learning experience that is designed to enable participants to make a difference in the world through knowledge, connections and practical skills.

Innovation and entrepreneurship are vital tools that enable people to make significant change in the world.  You will learn about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs), identify a problem to solve, form teams and come up with an idea and test its applications. Through developing your idea, you will learn a range of transferable skills that will serve you well whatever you go on to do in life.

We aim to inspire through action-oriented learning, including;

  • hands-on workshops
  • access to entrepreneurs and industry leaders as guest speakers
  • support by mentors
  • using tools and frameworks to shape innovative thinking
  • exploring emerging technologies and how these might support your solution
  • experience using a range of entrepreneurial tools, such as business canvases
  • create and build a prototype

On the final day, your team will share their ideas by presenting to a panel of judges. You will then receive feedback and guidance.

Through Summer Lab, you’ll get to be a part of an entrepreneurially-minded community that wants to transform ideas into tangible, robust solutions for a better world. You’ll connect with others also interested in making a difference, ideate solutions, learn tools to develop your ideas, work in teams, and get the support of mentors and facilitators. And have a lot of fun along the way! All you need to bring is your creativity, skills, and enthusiasm.


Summer Lab has won the International Council for Small Business (ICSB) Global Award and the United States Association of Small Business and Entrepreneurship Award (USASBE). 


What will I learn during the four weeks?

  • How to come up with an idea
  • Basic start-up tools to test your idea
  • How to talk to customers
  • How to interact in a team environment
  • How to pitch your idea/product
  • How to interact with mentors/potential customers
  • How to talk to investors
  • Workshops about financial basics, negotiation, intellectual property (IP), raising capital etc.


What are the benefits of Summer Lab?

University of Auckland Distinguished Graduate Awards

Your participation in Summer Lab can be formally recognised through the co-curricular recognition programme. Summer Lab will earn you nearly half of what you need to obtain a University of Auckland Distinguished Graduate Award. This prestigious accolade is designed to formally recognise the more practical aspects of your university experience to signify to prospective employers the wide range of skills you have developed and the holistic approach you have taken to your university education.

Build networks and make new friends.

You’ll get to meet and learn from industry experts who will be your advisers and mentors throughout the programme. You will also get to work with a diverse group of people from a variety of backgrounds and study disciplines who all have the common goal of wanting to take ideas off the paper and into real life.

Gain new skills

You will challenge your thinking and be amazed by what you achieve through new and enhanced skills such as problem-solving and ideation.

Learn to make a positive impact through practical tools

Generating ideas, testing these ideas, understanding financial basics, learning how to negotiate, protecting ideas, getting funding, working with others, and so much more.


2024 Summer Lab schedule

Week 1:  (40 hours approx)

  • Monday 22 January
  • Tuesday 23 January
  • Wednesday 24 January
  • Thursday 25 January

Week 2:  (20 hours approx)

  • [Auckland Anniversary]
  • Tuesday 30 January
  • Wednesday 31 January

Week 3:  (20 hours approx)

  • [Waitangi Day]
  • Wednesday 7 February
  • Thursday 8 February

Week 4:  (20 hours approx)

  • Monday 12 February
  • Tuesday 13 February
  • Wednesday 14 February (Final Presentation)



“Taking part in Summer Lab gave me a healthier perspective on my abilities, and I overcame a fear of making mistakes. It was a unique and extraordinary experience and it taught me how an idea can flourish and grow; having complete faith in your plan and committing yourself fully to its realisation. I learnt that setbacks are steppingstones to success, and essential for achieving success. It was a fantastic opportunity to expand my network of friends and gain valuable professional insight.” – Hansi (Health Science)

“Fantastic preparation for the new semester, the new school year, the new decade. Big thank you to the team at Unleash and CIE for being so open minded about individual approaches, personal backgrounds and opportunities outside of the traditional academic route.” – Aloisio De Manila (Business)

“Summer Lab is challenging and exciting. We solved an idea/social issue without technology which is impressive in itself.” Would recommend Summer Lab 100% – Ashwini Maheandran (Education and Social Work)

“Discover the recipe for innovation and unlock your inner entrepreneur!” – Harrison Lawton (Engineering)

“I enjoyed Summer Lab with all problems and failures. I think Summer Lab gives you more live skills that our academic education.” – Irina Rerikh (Business)

“Summer Lab is like running on a treadmill that’s going just slightly faster than I can run whilst being surrounded by excitement and ideas!” – Annabelle Collins (Science)

“Summer Lab was an insightful & empowering experience – do it!” – Leah Beaumont (Law)

“Summer Lab is a rollercoaster that made me experience really high highs and really low lows, all within the space of an hour, multiple times a day, every day, for the past four weeks.” – Suvarna Swaraj (Engineering)

“A programme that fosters students’ ability to turn their ideas into a feasible reality.” – Jane Ngo (Science)

“An incredibly amazing programme like no other (believe me it’s worth it!)” – Srishti Bhardwaj (Arts & Science)

“Summer Lab: Empowering people to build a brighter future.” – Calvin Kart (Engineering)

“A fast-paced learning experience that teaches you a lot of different skills (including general/life skills) that is also super fun along the way!” – Pooja Nagaraj (Medical and Health Sciences)

“I would do it all over again!” – Carolina Muthyala (Arts & Law)

“Summer Lab can change your life!” – Aashritha Santhan (Business)

“The smartest decision I made this summer was to join Summer Lab.” – Hang Zhao (Science)

Be inspired!

You’ll be truly surprised at where Summer Lab could take you. Be inspired by some of our past participants:

Develop networks and opportunities

Socius XR is a social venture that aims to help neurodiverse people into work. Their venture idea and team were first developed at Summer Lab. Since then they have been flown to Spain to present their venture at an international conference, have won numerous grants and established an Autism Advocacy Advisory Board. Learn more

Practice entrepreneurship for when you do get your Big Idea

Commerce student Toby Thomas-Smith took part in Summer Lab in 2021. While the idea generated during Summer Lab isn’t one that he wanted to continue with, Toby says that Summer Lab was invaluable in learning entrepreneurial skills that have helped him with his start-up EasyRent, which has since been relaunched in New York as Kiki, Toby recently secured an incredible USD$6M in seed capital for his venture!