Innovation Challenge Prize Giving 2019

Hundreds gathered to listen, learn, cheer, dance and celebrate at the 2019 Innovation Challenge prize giving held on May 23. 

The Innovation Challenge is a key event for the University of Auckland’s entrepreneurship programme Velocity. Students and Staff are invited to share a venture idea to solve a problem, big or small. Each 1,000 word entry is assessed and considered for a $1,000 prize with 40 prizes up for grabs. Categories included the School of Computer Science Big Data prize, the AI prize and the Female Founder prize.

This year, a total of 247 entries were received. Problems tackled included affordable housing, sustainable octopus fishing, easing the process for treaty claim settlements, farm irrigation, baby bowel movement monitoring, airport parking, recycling confusion, textbook piracy and gut health.

Velocity Programme Adviser Judith Marecek says that the Innovation Challenge offers an opportunity for those who might never otherwise have considered starting a venture to taking their first step. “There are few things as intimidating as a blank slate, or in this case a blank piece of paper. Once students have taken this first step to articulate an idea and think it through, they are often encouraged to take a second step on the path to becoming an entrepreneur”.

The Velocity Innovation Challenge prize giving gave further opportunity for inspiration through keynote speaker Ezel Kokcu, a tech entrepreneur. The 25-year-old has co-founded and sold two tech businesses, became a Women of Influence finalist and is Entrepreneur in Residence at Te Papa. Now, the software developer is onto her third start up, Passphere – an event and ticketing management system. Some tips she shared were to learn continuously from failures and give back to the community.

Entrants are now moving into the judges’ feedback stage. This is an excellent opportunity for entrants to receive quality feedback from industry experts. The feedback received will help them with their next steps to further develop their ideas, with many of the participants choosing to go forward to enter the Velocity $100k Challenge.

The student organising committee gives thanks to all the entrants, judges and supporters. The high enthusiasm and support from all have made this year’s Innovation Challenge a huge success.

Above: Ezel Kokcu imparting entrepreneurial wisdom and knowledge 

Below: Networking in the Fisher and Paykel auditorium foyer 

To Infinity and Beyond! Here are the Innovation Challenge Prize Winners

Click here for the full PDF list of all the spectacular prize winning entries