TWO INNOVATE GRAND PRIZE AWARD WINNERS NAMED
For the first time, two grand prize winners were named at the annual Innovate competition.
"In the end, the judges could not decide between the two," says Simon Barnett, Innovate judge. "We were spoilt for choice. This year the participants were of extremely high quality and they had ideas that are full of potential. The two winners really stood out not just for their concept, but also for their scalability and seeming ability to get the business off the ground. "
The two winners are: Tina and Dave Faulkner for EpicWriter and Paul Linklater for Strip Links.
"Tina and Dave identified a gap in the market and have filled it with Epic Writer," says Barnett. "They are solving a real problem in terms of writing for 6 16 year olds. We see global potential for this business and there has been a huge commitment in both time and money by the couple."
Strip Links, a commercial farming device that allows farmers to work the soil and plant seeds in one pass, caught the judge's eye for its domestic and international potential.
"There is a significant market for Strip Links in New Zealand and globally," says Barnett. "Paul has proven the concept and has been using the product for two years. He has 400 hours of work committed for this season. The Strip Links machine will deliver on an efficiency issue that plagues New Zealand farmers."
The winners each walked away with $10,000. To make the second prize package, the judges personally kicked in the first $5000 and BCC matched it.
"Having too many good entries is a really great problem to have," says Dean Tilyard, BCC Chief Executive.
This is the fourth year BCC has run the Innovate competition and to date, it has attracted 1052 entries. The competition, initially for Manawatu, has expanded to include the Tararua and Whanganui regions. In four years, it has become the premier ideas competition in New Zealand. Six businesses have been founded out of the competition, each with up to 10 employees. Innovate is one way BCC is helping to build an entrepreneurial eco-system in the region.
This year 19 entries came from Whanganui and 37 from Tararua; Manawatu entries rounded out the total of 264. The Top 14 pitched their ideas to the judges on Wednesday and the Top Five were invited to pitch their ideas to the studio audience and judges in a Dragon's Den at the Innovate Finals on Thursday night.
The star-studded judging panel returned from last year: Larry Ellison, James Watt, Sharon Bryant, Simon Barnett and Vicki Stewart.
ABOUT EPIC WRITER
Epic-writer.com is a website that will help children (primarily 6- 16 year olds) write. It is a highly sophisticated writing programme that incorporates many resources and features, yet is designed simplistically for children to use. Users will pay an annual membership to use to gain access to the which is designed in a photobook format. In the future the pair will obtain a publishing contract so children can publish their writing into photobooks.
ABOUT STRIP TILLAGE
Strip Tillage is a machine that works the soil and plants the seeds in one pass. It allows the farmer to work the soil in bands and plant into that band of cultivated soil. It is designed for "row crops" such as maize, sweet corn, squash, fodder beets and beans. This is for large scale commercial practice and the machine would be on the back of a tractor that would, preferably, be running accurate GPS.
INNOVATE 2015 WILL BE OPEN FOR ENTRIES IN MARCH