Ten lucky Kiwi startups get Vodafone xone boost

xone has been set up in partnership with Government R&D agency Callaghan Innovation

Ten kiwi start-ups and SMEs have been chosen to take part in Vodafone xone, billed as “a unique business accelerator designed to nurture the best ideas and Kiwi talent in the research and commercialisation of world-class technology.”

It has been set up in partnership with Government R&D agency Callaghan Innovation, which has committed $900,000 funding over three years

Vodafone says the 10 start-ups were hand-picked by a panel of expert judges from more than 170 applicants from around New Zealand. “Each team will receive a package worth more than $150,000, including $25,000 in seed-funding and world class mentoring as part of a six-month programme,” the telco said.

They will also gain access to a collaborative working space inside Vodafone’s new $50 million HQ in Christchurch “containing specialised technology worth $19 million.”

Vodafone announced the programme in December 2015, saying that a second round would start in 2017. The company has confirmed to Computerworld that this will take place.

Vodafone’s consumer director Matt Williams said the aim of the programme was to the find the best new mobile and digital technologies in New Zealand and take them to the world through Vodafone’s international network.

Jonathan Miller, Digital Technology Sector manager at Callaghan Innovation, said the lab would encourage a global outlook for New Zealand businesses.

“As well as being an international launch pad for kiwi start-ups, New Zealand companies of all sizes can access the world-class tech facilities on offer at the Vodafone xone Innovation Lab – to test and develop their internet-of-things, smart network and mobile ideas.”

The Christchurch Vodafone xone is the seventh to be set up around the world. The first was set up in Silicon Valley in 2011. Vodafone said it would “provide technical expertise, potential financial assistance, logistical support and facilities to help promising US technology companies gain a fast track into proof-of-concept trials across Vodafone's global network.”

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That centre moved to the UK in 2014 and now offers a number of mobile app products. It is described as “a tightly-knit, multidisciplinary group of strategists, technologists, thinkers and builders.”

Details of the winners can be found at xone.vodafone.co.nz.

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