Innovate 2019 Awards


With over 30 years experience in the Army, medic Mark Anderson’s UrsaMed, took out the grand prize for Innovate 2019 on Thursday evening, 22 November. The finals event, hosted by Mediaworks Ryan Bridge saw a sold out Conference and Function Centre listen to Innovate’s eight finalists pitch live to judges. And, consistent with tradition, the judges dug deep and awarded a new prize, UCOL’s Rising Stars Award, a $1,000 giftcard to Noel Leeming.

Mark’s winning product is a simulated bleeding device, capable of creating life-like trauma in a real-life training environment. This is Mark’s second time entering Innovate. In 2013, Mark took his first prototype to the programme with judges commending him on his invention but asked him to miniaturize the device as well as identify a clear intellectual property path.

Behind Mark are a group of dedicated experts helping him build upon his success. “Mark came through our programme 6 years ago with the first version of his device. His tenacity and ability to build a successful team has helped him tremendously this year. It just goes to show you that if you put the right people around you, your idea can grow into a product that has worldwide relevance,” said Dave Craig, Innovate’s Programme Director.

Also on the night, the judges awarded a new prize, the Tech Tour prize, to Neil Viviers. Neil’s product, Roomy, is a gadget that monitors air quality in homes and offices. Neil’s problem came about with his newborn who was suffering from poor air quality. “There was nothing on the market that would do what I wanted it to do. So, I thought I’d build one myself,” said Neil. Roomy monitors temperature, humidity, sudden drops in air quality and movement. The Tech Tour prize will see Neil travel to San Francisco and visit some of Silicon Valley’s largest tech companies.

The Collective Intelligence prize also went to Neil Viviers. The prize is a three year scholarship valued at $12,000. It is to accelerate the evolution of an exceptional young entrepreneur by exposing them to other established business people and professionals. Ian Harvey, founder of Collective Intelligence said, “ I loved how in this years’ Innovate competition there was a vast array of nationalities and backgrounds represented – a stack of cool innovators ranging in age from 14 to 60+ – all working their start-up magic in everything from firewood to endoscopes. Neil was described to me by his mentors as ‘a sponge’. His concept went from being a mighty-broad idea at the start, to a product with an extremely sharp focus come awards night. This evolution clearly demonstrated to me that he would be a worthy recipient.

It was a blast to have last year’s scholarship recipient, Kylie Love, hand over our hand-crafted scholarship koru to Neil. To us, the koru represents emerging growth, and the extraordinary potential of things to come.”

In true Innovate fashion, the judges once again created a new award on the night, UCOL sponsored “Rising Star” award. The prize, a $1,000 giftcard to Noel Leeming was presented to Grace Mainwaring and her company The Food Director. Grace was mentored by Dr. Abby Thompson and Hamish Gow of Food HQ and Massey University.

The 2019 Innovate programme began in July with over 75 submissions from Manawatu and the rest of New Zealand. Over the course of two stages, the Innovate Top 8 are chosen; these entrants are then partnered with mentors who together, completes a 12-week market validation programme. At the conclusion of the 12 weeks most entrants have a substantial business model and even paying customers.

This is the eight year The Factory has run the Innovate competition and to date, it has attracted 1,500 entries and has helped establish over 60 businesses. The programme, initially for Manawatu, has expanded to include the lower half of the North Island. In eight years, it has become the premier ideas accelerator in New Zealand. Innovate is one way The Factory is helping to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem in the region.

“This year, Innovate had over 200 local, national and international mentors. It’s impressive to find the talent we have here hidden in the regions and then match that talent with proven expertise from our wider mentor pool. Thanks to all our mentors and stakeholders who have helped along the way,” said Nick Gain, Innovate’s Programme Manager.

Innovate is back for 2020. Programme applications will open 1 July 2020.


Media Release 26 November 2019.