Lightning Lab programme funds startups to kick start businesses
Their product ideas range from surfboards to motion capture technology but the entrepreneurs behind eight startups have yet to prove they can turn prototypes into saleable products.
The Lightning Lab Manufacturing startups will be taking part in New Zealand's first ever manufacturing accelerator programme, which started in Lower Hutt last week.
The teams received $15,000 in seed funding and have three months to make headway on their companies.
Jack Candlish took up surfing in Lyall Bay only 18 months ago but is now making his own wooden boards, which he says are more economical and sustainable.
"Most boards are made from polystyrene foam covered with layers of fibreglass cloth, and polyester or epoxy resin. These are hazardous and most production processes are wasteful."
Candlish, who owns a cafe fitting business, believes he has come up with the perfect design.
The end product was stronger and flexible and could take more impact from the waves, however it was about 25 per cent heavier and he was working to resolve this with "clever tricks".
Hutt Valley pupil Sam Minot, 17, is one of the youngest taking part in the manufacturing initiative.
Along with Alana Kirby, 17 and Jordan Baker, 18, he is aiming to create a marine safety product, Liquid Life.
The product would help boaties be found if lost at sea, he said.
A unit, inside a lifejacket, would disperse liquid dye around the user in the water and provides up to eight hours of visibility.
Minot said other sea dye products existed but this was unlike any other on the market, lasting for 8 hours.
The group came up with the idea after a friend got lost at sea, he said.
Richard Nimmo and Sean Snyders set up Kine6 with a vision of using motion capture technology to help filmmakers, who are usually constrained by gear.
The former Weta Digital staff say their accurate automatic focus system will help to deliver more creative shots.
Lightning Lab Manufacturing director Shawn O'Keefe said there had been more than 50 applications from throughout the country to take part in the inaugural manufacturing programme, which is run by Creative HQ.
The startups needed to be design-led, customer-focused, aware of the latest trends in manufacturing technology and have a clear strategy for getting their products off the drawing board and into the marketplace, he said.
"We are opening a new door for the startup community and investors. It's critical we help these early stage businesses get off the launch pad."
Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace said the city was home to many of the Wellington region's high value manufacturers.
"We are excited to see these young businesses being given a headstart, and developing the next generation of products that can be exported around the world."
Grow Wellington chief executive Gerard Quinn said the startups represented a cross-section of the region's "dynamic and creative economy".
"It will be exciting to see the creative collisions that occur as these teams grow and connect with the wider manufacturing base across the region."
Callaghan Innovation is supporting the initiative and using its extensive national and international networks to help the ventures make the connections to succeed.
The programme will finish with a demo day in late November, where the teams will pitch their companies to investors.
Lightning Lab Manufacturing
ORGANIC DYNAMIC: Surfboards and related products developed from organic materials.
EBEE: Eco-friendly beehive frames.
DOGMATEK: Audio effects units for musicians, combining analogue and digital electronics.
KINE6: Wireless, motion capture technology for filmmakers.
LIQUID LIFE: Dye dispersal unit for marine rescue.
THE MISPRINT CO: Business paper waste repurposed into notebooks.
PRECISION PLATFORMS: Rifle stocks and bi-pods for long-range hunters and competition rifle shooters.
BPOD: Smart baby products that can adapt to the needs of parents and baby.
- The photo caption has been corrected to Organic Dynamic