Kiwis compete for $200,000 Gigatown innovation fund

“Throughout the Gigatown competition, we've seen people truly inspired by what a country connected with UFB can achieve."

The Chorus and Alcatel-Lucent led ng Connect programme has launched a new fund, designed to provide New Zealand entrepreneurs and innovators the chance to win up to $200,000 in business funding.

Unveiled today, the cash will be used to help "develop and market" a new service concept that will run over gigabit ultra-fast broadband (UFB) in the winning Gigatown.

The Gig-Start Fund is now open for applications, with Chorus and Alcatel-Lucent’s ng Connect programme calling for companies and individuals from across the country to "dream big" and put forward a compelling business case to help get their ideas for UFB service concepts off the ground in Gigatown.

In October 2013, Chorus launched its Gigatown competition, with 50 towns signing up to compete for the opportunity to become New Zealand’s first Gigatown.

Five towns - Dunedin, Gisborne, Nelson, Timaru and Wanaka - are now competing in the final round and the winning Gigatown will be announced on 26 November, 2014, receiving 1Gbps UFB services across the town’s fibre footprint at entry level broadband prices.

Chorus Chief Commercial Officer Tim Harris says the Gig-Start Fund was established to spark innovation and help the winning Gigatown to leverage the economic benefits of UFB.

“Throughout the Gigatown competition, we've seen people truly inspired by what a country connected with UFB can achieve," he says.

“Now we want to harness this inspiration and assist New Zealanders to create UFB-led services that they can launch and market in the winning Gigatown.”

Alcatel-Lucent Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands, President and Managing Director, Sean O’Halloran, believes UFB could "transform" the way Kiwi organisations approach innovation and service development.

“One of the great benefits of UFB is its capacity to drive innovation and new-to-market services," he adds.

“UFB is already enabling new value for New Zealand and Gigatown shows there is a great demand to accelerate the benefits across the country.”

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