Get in quick: Digmyidea Māori Innovation Challenge entries close tomorrow

If you’re a budding Māori digital entrepreneur with an idea up your sleeve, now is your chance to make that idea a reality. The Digmyidea Māori Innovation Challenge closes Friday 31 March. 

Digmyidea is an event organised by ATEED, Callaghan Innovation and other stakeholder groups that aims to encourage more Māori to be a part of the digital economy by helping up-and-coming Māori innovators kick start their creative ideas.

Ideas put forward should be exciting, digital, innovative and entrepreneurial, and can range from anything like a web programme to a digital extension of a business.

They should also have the potential to create economic opportunities for Māori and other New Zealanders.

The Māori economy is already a significant contributor to New Zealand’s economy, with producers adding $11 billion (5.6 percent) to New Zealand’s GDP.

However, Digmyidea wants to increase this impact – particularly in the tech sector.

In a column on the NZHerald, Callaghan Innovation’s general manager of sectors, Māori economy and programmes Hēmi Rolleston said often, the focus is on Māori culture, food, languages and traditions, more than their innovation.

“It's true, these components do make Māori unique, but alone they represent the past,” he says.

“In 2017, with rapidly increasing technological change, the future is here whether we like it or not. And we need to embrace it by encouraging more marriages between Māori and technology. Because the situation is this: innovate or die. There are some highly successful Māori-hi-tech marriages, proving how Māori can not only survive but thrive into the future, while maintaining their authenticity.

“Māori need to evolve more from being landlords and primary producers, to invest further up the value chain into other areas such as tourism and food - for example, through inventing technology to pick kiwifruit instead of just owning the land it's grown on.”

Māori individuals or groups of up to five people can enter the competition to win $10,000 worth of business start-up assistance.

There are two categories that can be entered: Mauri oho (youth aged 15 to 25 years) and Mauri tū (anyone aged 26-years-old and above).

One of the judges of the competition, Aranui Ventures founder Robett Hollis says people should put their idea forward, regardless of whether they think it’s good or not.

“Innovation is really the commercialisation of a creative idea, and Digmyidea provides the platform for young Māori to share their idea and get the mentoring and support they need to execute it,” he says.

“Even if the idea doesn’t fly, being involved in an innovation challenge like this could be the perfect platform to an even bigger and better idea.”

The winners will be announced at Techweek 2017 in May.

Five finalists from the two categories will also get to take part in a mentoring workshop on 13 and 14 May.

Entries must be submitted to Digmyidea by midnight on Friday 31 March.

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