At the advent of the 21st century, we had a dream for New Zealand - a dream of transformation towards a knowledge economy in order to stay competitive in the global arena. Based on various examples around the world, we knew that achieving such transformation takes decades. What has been amazing is the pace at which we can already see the effects of this ongoing transformation and a revolutionising in the New Zealand mindset.
In the early 2000s we started with a practically non-existent entrepreneurial ecosystem in New Zealand and significant resistance within pockets of university ivory towers towards adopting an entrepreneurial mind-set. Today, we could be in a parallel universe! Taking the University of Auckland as an example, there has been a radical change since I was first involved in setting up Spark (the university's leading entrepreneurial initiative) in 2003 to a complete embracing of the spirit of innovation at every level across the university today. In fact, the university was recently recognized in a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study as one of the top five highly-regarded entrepreneurial universities in the world, operating within challenging circumstances, and with Spark seen as "the university's beating heart of entrepreneurship".
Photograph by Martin Klimek
We first featured Dr Privahini Bradoo in issue four (Jul-Aug 2006) as a sari-wearing student who had just finished her PhD and had been awarded a $US100,000 Fulbright scholarship. Passionate about increasing the ties between scientists and entrepreneurs, Bradoo set up student-led startup initiative Spark. By issue 18 (Nov-Dec 2008), Bradoo was working in San Fran for NZ biotech firm LanzaTech. Now she’s got her own business – US-based e-waste recycling company BlueOak.
*Dodgy counting alert: Initially, we actually we asked 11 people, because we were worried not everyone would want to contribute. But everyone did. But “11 after 10” didn’t sound right. And then we liked those 11 answers so much, we kept asking people. Stay tuned for more over the summer months.
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