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New Zealand's first accelerator a bootcamp for start-ups

Kiwi start-ups rejoice. Enthusiastic investors and mentors stump-up expertise and cash to find the country's next big innovation.

Lightning Lab, New Zealand’s first digital accelerator, promises to offer tech start-ups cash, muscle and entrepreneur-driven momentum.

The Science and Innovation arm of MBIE has teamed up with private investors to inspire and accelerate New Zealand’s best digital entrepreneurs.

The Lightning Lab programme is a New Zealand first and will initially supercharge 10 digital start-ups within a network of 100 mentors and an intensive 12-week pathway to prove, build and launch their businesses into market.

The accelerator offers up to $18,000 into elite teams of start-up entrepreneurs and pushes them to make their business idea fly within three months.

The programme is open to any team of start-up founders across New Zealand and will run early 2013.

Applications are open now, and close in December 2012. The top 10 applicants will be selected by the founding investor group, all active and high-profile angel investors.  

Founding investor Phil McCaw says fast tracking start-up companies with a sink-or-swim ethos, is critical for their success.

“It’s going to create a tangible pressure zone where, with resource and guidance, these companies can deliver something fantastic. Out on their own this can take years.” 

Initiated by Wellington business incubator Creative HQ, Lightning Lab will leapfrog the best talent and ideas into an invested and supported fast-track path to market.

The intense 12-week programme concludes with ‘Demo Day’, where they pitch to a roomful of individuals from industry, the investment community and New Zealand’s innovation ecosystem – with the hope of securing further finance.

Graham Smith, from MBIE’s Science and Innovation Group says investing in Lightning Lab complements their support for initiatives such as Kiwi Landing Pad in San Francisco and sponsoring entrepreneurs to MIT in Boston.

“Lighting Lab will help fast track New Zealand’s entrepreneurial talent and give them better opportunities to succeed overseas.”

The Lightning Lab will be an aspirational beacon for start-up entrepreneurs, and for investors and companies looking for innovative digital ventures to support or align themselves with.