Writing software, beet machine snag Innovate awards

00:00, Aug 29 2014
Tina Faulkner with 'Epic Writer' and Paul Linklater with 'Striplinks' share first place in Innovate 2014.

Judges broke the rules by announcing two winners at the Innovate business competition last night.

They could not choose between a computer program that helps children with writing and a machine to reduce the growing cost of fodder beet, so they awarded both $10,000 each.

Innovate is a Manawatu-based competition to help take an idea for a new business, an invention, early-stage research or technology with commercial potential and turn it into reality.

The idea for Epic Writer came to Tina Faulkner after her daughter failed writing in school.

Faulkner, who is a trained teacher, said she pulled all the resources she could find together to help her daughter with writing and was "literally overwhelmed" by it all. "I thought, as a trained teacher and a parent, if I don't even know where to start, how is the average parent supposed to know where to start.

"I decided I needed to help everyone."


Faulkner had been working on the project for a year and a half.

Judges chose the program because they believe it has global potential.

Paul Linklater's strip tillage machine also impressed because of its global potential.

The machine would cost up to $100,000 to manufacture but Linklater said that was nothing compared to the amount it would save the farmer.

"I think the amount it could save each year, it's sort of a no-brainer to use."

A trial of the machine would begin this season and manufacturing would begin next year, Linklater said.

Mike McRoberts of 3News hosted the event.

He said he was impressed by the number of ideas that had potential for the global market.

"It's just amazing how many great ideas there are out there. It's really amazing that they've come from one area.

"I really like the idea of promoting innovation and giving great business ideas a starting chance."

The competition, run by the Bio Commerce Centre, took place over 12 weeks, whittling more than 300 ideas down to five finalists who all took the stage and presented their ideas to the audience at the Sport and Rugby Institute at Massey University last night.

The judging panel was Simon Barnett, Vicki Stewart, James Watts, Sharon Bryant and Larry Ellison, who all have substantial entrepreneurial backgrounds and run successful businesses.

Manawatu Standard