Applications are now open for the 2017 Vodafone xone. In its second year, the Vodafone xone is a start-up accelerator and innovation lab through which Vodafone partners with early and late stage start-ups, with ideas that benefit their customers. Selected companies will receive a total package valued at more than $150,000, including $25,000 in seed-funding, and access to world class technology and mentoring as part of a six-month programme.
Ten start-ups were selected last July to take part in Vodafone xone, out of more than 170 applicants from around New Zealand.
Vodafone consumer director Matt Williams says he’s is delighted with the results of the programme. “We launched Vodafone xone with an ambition to find the best mobile and digital technologies in New Zealand, and take them to the world through Vodafone’s international network,” he says. “Collectively they’ve generated $9 million in new revenue, attracted $7 million in capital funding, created 25 new jobs, and they’re now operating in 12 countries. Individually they’ve created some amazing new technologies.”
Christchurch based Solar Bright team Pat and Nicola Martin are amongst the companies that also have high praise for the xone programme. “It’s opened doors and opportunities that just the two of us couldn’t have accessed without Vodafone xone. It’s just been phenomenal,” says Nicola Martin.
The Martins developed a smart solar-powered road cat’s eye, or Dataeye, during their time with Vodafone xone. The technology flashes blue to alert drivers to ice ahead, and can transmit the data to land transport agencies so they know where to grit the roads, and issue public warnings.
Says Nicola Martin: “To be able to say to agencies around the world that we can give you connectivity with the Dataeye because of our relationship with Vodafone, means they are willing to buy or trial our technology.”
Vodafone’s Williams says the whole idea of the programme is to help Kiwi innovators who want support in bringing their ideas to life.
“We are excited about the next group of innovators. By partnering with us, we’ll provide access to local expertise and the global Vodafone network,” he says.
And as for what kind of ideas they’re after? “This year we are particularly interested to see where clever Kiwis are looking to take things in quickly evolving areas such as health technology, IoT (Internet of Things), artificial intelligence or big data,” says Williams.
Applications close May 12.