Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities
Reduce inequality within and among countries.
Clearhead and Mā Te Huruhuru – Empowering Māori rangatahi to check in on their mental health and wellbeing
Kara Technologies has developed an online platform that translates content from different materials including books, audio and video, into sign language. It uses artificial intelligence (AI) and hyper-realistic avatars, with a particular emphasis on making educational material accessible for deaf children.
The venture was developed by postgraduate Engineering students with the support of the Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Since its development through the University’s VentureLab incubator, Kara Technologies has gone on to be named one of the Top 100 Meaningful Businesses of 2020 in a ranking that celebrates leaders globally combining profit and purpose to help achieve the UNSDGs. Read more
Emma Cooper-Williams – Applying social innovation learnings to disability activism
According to the United Nations Development Programme, students, scholars and researchers with disabilities remain underrepresented in higher education and vulnerable to feeling marginalised and excluded on campuses. This can be for a number of reasons including difficulty accessing physical learning facilities.
Being a wheel-chair user, University of Auckland student Emma Cooper-Williams has experienced these challenges first hand, making her the perfect person to work with the Equity Office’s Student Disability Services to develop the University’s latest innovation, the Wayfinding app. The browser-based app allows users to view digitised maps of the University and perform both outdoor and indoor navigation between locations. Emma helped the project team plot accessible routes around the University by going around campus to look at which routes and entrances were accessible and which ones were not. Read more
Girls That Invest – The Journey to becoming the number one business podcast in the US
Girls That Invest is a podcast, co-founded by University of Auckland alumna Simran Kaur, that unpacks the complexity of investing into easy to understand basics. Simran says “Despite investing platforms being more accessible than ever, studies show that in New Zealand women are still not taking up financial literacy and investing. Only 14% of Kiwi women were investing in the stock market in 2018 compared to 22% of men. It comes from our deep-rooted belief that investing is just not for us, or that we are not capable enough to understand the complexities. The jargon used in the world of investing is overwhelming and often feels exclusionary. Read more
Manzana – Tāmaki Makaurau’s space for women entrepreneurs
Manzana is a new creative space and community supporting women entrepreneurs who are driven to change the world. Founded by University of Auckland alumnae Dil Khosa and Ché Zara Blomfield, the co-working space on Auckland City’s High Street offers workshops, events, and networking opportunities all designed to empower and support women entrepreneurs striving to improve the way we connect with each other and our environment. Read more
Kara Technologies sign language avatar venture receives $1.3m seed funding
Kara Technologies is one step closer to their goal of making sign language services widely available with $1.3 million raised in a recent round of seed funding. The company also recently reached new audiences through a partnership with Australian entertainer Emma Watkins, best known as a former member of the ever-popular Wiggles.
It’s all part of their ultimate mission to help companies all around the world make their services accessible to the Deaf community and those who use sign language, with the help of the company’s hyper-realistic signing avatars. Kara Technologies’ digital humans have high fidelity faces, giving them the ability to be fully expressive and engaging – easily connecting with the audience. They can preside at the bottom of any screen or on any device, interpreting content into a signed language or being a part of the content rather than just translating it. Read more
Maara Fresh – Feeding hearts, minds and stomachs
An innovative business idea developed by Manurewa’s home-grown entrepreneurs will benefit more than 2,000 Manurewa High School students through Ka Ora, Ka Ako, the Government’s healthy school lunches programme, starting in 2021. Maara Fresh is a social enterprise that literally grew out of the Manurewa Community Garden.
Developed with the support of the University of Auckland Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) it provides a structure to ensure the financial sustainability of initiatives run out of the gardens. These include growing fresh produce to supply to local families, community kitchens and food banks in Manurewa and an education programme about horticulture for students to ensure sustainability. Read more
Med student uses TikTok to teach Kiwis about personal finance
Medical and health science student, Junius Ong is the Director of Social Media Marketing at MoneyHub, a free online resource dedicated to helping New Zealanders make important financial decisions. They give comprehensive, objective, and up-to-date information to help people make the best decisions for their needs, and direct people to relevant financial products and services.
Junius got involved after posting a video to his personal TikTok account were he mentioning he often used MoneyHub as a resource. MoneyHub founder Christopher Walsh reached out to say thanks, and Junius took it as an opportunity to pitch the idea of MoneyHub getting onto TikTok. It began with him simply summarising the guides already on the website, writing scripts, recording voiceovers, and finding stock videos. However, building trust over time has led to Junius having more creative freedom over the account, and he is now involved with strategising campaigns for some of their clients. Read more
Socius XR – The venture helping neurodiverse people into work
Socius XR harnesses VR/AR technology to provide undersupported individuals with Autism struggling with social interaction a more comfortable space to practice verbal/non-verbal communication via realistic immersive simulations. Providing autonomy to live their best life. Socius was started by a multidisciplinary group of students who started the venture while participating in the University’s Summer Lab entrepreneurship programme and has been developed further through Velocity. Read more
Sugar Wallet – App making investing easy for everyday kiwis
Sugar Wallet, an app co-founded by University of Auckland alumni, is on a mission to make investing simple for the everyday Kiwi – for those who don’t have time for extensive research, who may not have a passion or investing, or the means to seek professional financial advice. It is designed to help users get into healthy investing habits without having to pick stocks and funds, and allow them the financial freedom to achieve their life goals. Read more
Toku eyes – Scanning eyes to predict illnesses
Toku Eyes is an AI technology, founded by university of Auckland scientist and lecturer Ehsan Vaghefi, that scans eyes to predict the likelihood of blindness, stroke or heart disease. What sounds like science fiction is now science fact, currently operating in over 70 clinics worldwide. Having recently completed a $3.6 million investment round, the venture is now looking to expand operations from New Zealand, Australia and India into the United States. Read more
Anima Self: The venture creating a playground for you to think, feel, and grow
Last year, Tiger Chen, an alumna of the University of Auckland Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE), made a bold move to London to explore Europe and seek career opportunities as a newly-trained UX designer. To her surprise, the move led her to join AnimaSelf, an innovative mental health start-up app, where she now works as the lead product designer as a side hustle while also working a day job as a UX designer for a software company.
AnimaSelf offers a unique and personalised experience for its users, from the customisable Anima avatar to the daily support provided. What sets it apart from other wellness apps is its emphasis on early detection and intervention. Most wellness apps on the market are geared towards individuals who are already struggling with mental health, while AnimaSelf takes a proactive approach, helping people to navigate the challenges of day-to-day life. Read more
Maria Jose Alvarez unlocks deep-tech potential in New Zealand
Chilean Biotechnology Engineer Maria Jose Alvarez is bridging the gap between the science and Venture Capital communities in New Zealand, helping deep-tech start-ups and first-time founders bring their ideas to life. Working as an Investment Manager at WNT Ventures, Maria Jose is dedicated to fostering the growth of the next generation of founders. Maria Jose is particularly passionate about supporting women and minorities in the VC community and in 2021 she was named a finalist in the Diversity category at the NZ Women of Influence Awards recognising her efforts and impact in this space.
Since moving to New Zealand and studying a Master in Bioscience Enterprise at the University of Auckland, Maria Jose has worked at four different funds covering private, government, and university funding, as well as being an advisor and investment committee member to other initiatives to commercialise innovation in New Zealand. Read more
iCanStudy venture used globally for learning efficiency
Dr Justin Sung’s venture iCanStudy aims to train users to learn like a genius. His research-informed venture is a cognitive retraining programme that incorporates concepts of higher-order learning and self-regulated learning. Servicing over 10,000 learners around the world, iCanStudy was used in 120 countries last year. Designed to be interacted with for a couple of hours per week, the programme teaches research-backed methods to upgrade how efficiently users process information and learn.
The programme is designed for anyone wanting to improve their learning efficiency. Through synthesising insights from cognitive science, education, and learning research, the iCanStudy programme bridges gaps between typically isolated research domains, creating a novel learning theory that offers a unique approach to learning. Read more
UoA students and staff taking on the world, one SGD at a time, as Future 17 trailblazers
Twenty students and five staff will be the University of Auckland Future17 trailblazers, taking part for the first time in a global education programme that focuses on sustainability challenges and bridges the worlds of higher education and work.
With an emphasis on developing 21st century skills, students and mentors from universities across Europe, Africa, South America and Oceania team up with international partner organisations to collaborate on real-world challenges related to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This culminates in a showcase event where student teams present their proposed solutions to the partners — which range from corporate organisations to charities and NGOs. Read more
Inspiring young Māori and Pacific students to create the future
The Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) recently welcomed 200 Māori and Pacific Year 10 students participating in the Mānawa Mai Future Me programme delivered by Waipapa Taumata Rau, the University of Auckland. Future Me aims to inspire and inform Pacific and Māori young people about options within higher education. Students participated in workshops hosted in CIE’s two innovation hubs, designed to showcase how technology can support innovation and creativity. Read more
Embracing identity and values key to Pacific entrepreneurship
The 2023 Pasifika Innovation and Entrepreneurship Talanoa was hosted recently in Kura Matahuna Unleash Space, one of the innovation hubs run by the University of Auckland Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE). The event was the result of a collaboration between Auckland University Pacific Island Student Association (AUPISA) and CIE’s Velocity entrepreneurship development programme. The evening featured a panel of three speakers who shared stories from their diverse entrepreneurial experiences, with their strong common thread of Pacific heritage woven throughout. It was an inspiring evening filled with authenticity, advice and plenty of laughter. Read more
Robogals – Hacking the STEM diversity issue
Robogals is a global volunteer student-led organisation founded in 2008 with the goal of inspiring, engaging and empowering young women into engineering and related fields. The University of Auckland’s Robogals is an active chapter of this global network, and this year ran the annual Science and Engineering Day (SED) with great success at Kura Matahuna – Unleash Space, one of the innovation hubs managed by the University of Auckland Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE).
The Science and Engineering Day was an in-person event held as part of the international Robogals Science Challenge competition, an international outreach initiative that engages young women and gender-diverse students aged 5-15 to become involved in STEM beyond the classroom. Activities are designed to promote innovation and exploration through hands-on projects, which can be completed with a friend, parent/guardian, or mentor. Read more
Pūtaiao symposium gathers Māori guardians of Science
The inaugural biennial Pūtaiao symposium for 2023 was hosted by Waipapa Taumata Rau | The University of Auckland’s Faculty of Science earlier this month. Pūtaiao can be loosely thought of as “science” although it also incorporates Mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge systems). The symposium centred around acknowledging the past to inspire future pathways for Māori in STEAMx3 (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Medicine, Math, Maatauranga Māori). Academic and professional staff from across the University were invited to speak, listen, and connect over two days at Te Papa Ako o Tai Tonga, University of Auckland South Campus.
Matt Broughton (Ngāpuhi), Programme Coordinator at the Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE), had the privilege of attending. He was invited to give a presentation about CIE’s two technology hubs: Kura Matahuna, Unleash Space and Te Ahi Hangarau, Technology Hub. Read more