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VentureLab is CIE’s incubator programme, designed to provide the five winning teams of the Velocity $100k Challenge with the mental and physical space needed to get their ventures off the page and out into the real world. With six months in the incubator, teams are connected to industry leaders and a range of mentors, have weekly support meetings with entrepreneurial legends Ken Erskine and Duncan Ledwith, and receive free desk space and a $10,000 stipend.

Who is it designed for?

The VentureLab Programme is open to the five winners of the Velocity 100K challenge each year.

Read about our previous cohorts: 2021, 2022.

Programme structure

Through VentureLab the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) commits to giving each team the support they need to succeed with their venture.

Our VentureLab Managers work with each team to individually support their growth and tailor support to meet their needs.

Mentoring and resources

Each VentureLab team is provided with:

  • Weekly meetings and support from an experienced mentor and VentureLab Managers
  • Desk space and lockers
  • Milestone payment per team to enable them to focus their time on the venture
  • Access to Unleash Space and all Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship events, networks etc
  • Access to university equipment, libraries for market research etc
  • Six months support with monthly milestones, then review for next stage
  • Specific capability building workshops conducted as required based on the needs of the teams
  • Access to UniServices advisors
  • Guidance to access the $40m evergreen University of Auckland Inventors’ Fund and Momentum investment committees


VentureLab Managers

kenKen Erskine
Ken Erskine is a seasoned mentor, investor, and entrepreneur with a wealth of experience in the New Zealand and international start-up ecosystems. He has successfully mentored hundreds of Kiwi businesses, guiding them from seed ideas to successful global companies. Ken was instrumental in the formation of key organizations in the ecosystem, including the Technology Investment Network, The Icehouse, and the Global from Day One seed fund. Additionally, he played a vital role in the development of the Commercialisation Partner Network, which has evolved into the Return on Science national research commercialisation program. Ken also played a leadership role in the establishment of the Lightning Lab accelerator in Auckland, later rebranded as the Flux Accelerator, and the creation of the GridAKL co-working space. Ken served as the Director for Start-ups at The Icehouse from 2009 to 2015, where he was responsible for the incubator and ICE Angels investor group. During his tenure, Forbes named The Icehouse as one of the world’s top ten technology incubators changing the world, and the ICE Angels invested over $50m into early-stage NZ ventures. Ken was crucial to the formation of the CIE’s VentureLab program in 2017, and we are honoured to have him on board again this year.

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. Duncan is proud to volunteer at South Pacific Business Development (SPBD) where they are empowering female entrepreneurs across the South Pacific to lift their families out of poverty. Since inception, SPBD has provided more than 275,000 micro-loans totaling more than US$214M to over 85,000 women. Recently, 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 VentureLab managers this year.


Entry into VentureLab is by invitation only.