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Get in: The Dig My Idea Māori Innovation Challenge is back

The Dig My Idea Māori Innovation Challenge is coming back. The question now is what innovative ideas it’ll help bring to fruition – and just how much they’ll change the world.

Entries for the Dig My Idea Māori Innovation Challenge are now open, with the competition calling on budding Māori digital entrepreneurs to put their ideas forward. The competition – now in its third year – aims to inspire more people of Māori descent to engage in the digital economy by helping emerging Māori innovators turn their creative ideas into reality.

Individuals or teams of up to five people can enter, with $10,000 worth of business startup assistance going to the overall winning entries in two categories: Rerenga o te Kora: (for people between the ages of 15 and 24) and Muranga o te Ahi (for people 25 years old and older).

Dig My Idea entries must be exciting, innovative, digital and entrepreneurial. They can be anything from an app to a web programme, or even a digital extension of a more traditional business.

Pam Ford, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) general manager for Business, Innovation and Skills, says the whole idea of the competition is to find promising entrepreneurial talent which can be nurtured and developed. “The competition aims to stimulate the interest and involvement of Māori within New Zealand’s innovation ecosystem, which is a unique point of difference both at home and on the world stage, and an important part of building the technology sector,” she says. “Ideas should have the potential to create economic opportunities for Māori and other New Zealanders, as well as be considered for the export market.”

Josh Arnold (of Ngāpuhi descent), who won Dig My Idea in 2015, is now studying at the University of California, Davis in the United States. The university, close to Silicon Valley, is one of the world’s leading cross-disciplinary research and teaching institutions.

While Arnold’s idea, “Hang” (an application which encourages people to socialise with friends in real life), wasn’t feasible to continue in the end, he says the whole experience took him on a valuable journey. “Dig My Idea was really my first introduction to the business world,” he says. “It helped me create a vision for my future and this motivated me to work harder at school. This helped me go on to study at UC Davis where I’m finishing my first year studying computer science and biology.

“I have a particular interest in artificial intelligence (AI) and how this technology can be applied to make a real global difference. I’m soon to start the Silicon Valley Innovation Camp as part of Stanford University’s summer school where ideas are to focus around ‘having a positive impact on the world.’

“I’m looking forward to pushing the boundaries with other students and designing ambitious new ideas that can make a real difference.”

For this third edition of Dig My Idea, there are a few other cool things happening, too. “Matariki” is the Māori name for the cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades. It rises in mid-winter, and for many Māori heralds the start of a new year. The DIGIwānanga – a mentoring workshop where finalists will pitch their ideas in front of judges – will run from 6-8 July, which is when Matariki can be seen just above the horizon before the sun comes up.

A Dig My Idea hackathon is also being held as part of this year’s edition of Techweek. The one-day event – to be held May 19 – is designed for Māori with digital business aspirations to come together and use technology to transform ideas into reality. Ideas as part of the hackathon can also be submitted for Dig My Idea.

The deadline for Dig My Idea entries is Sunday, May 27. Entries can be submitted (and more information found) here.

Dig My Idea is designed and delivered by ATEED with support from the Ministry of Youth Development, He Kai Kei Aku Ringa (HKKAR, a Government-supported Māori economic growth strategy) and Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.

Dig My Idea entries will be judged by a panel of experts, with the top five entries for each age category announced June 5. Finalist entrants will take part in DIGIwānanga in Auckland from July 6-8. Overall winners will be announced July 9.

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