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Powerhouse Ventures "Venture Out"

Christchurch, New Zealand

Stephen Hampson, CEO

www.powerHouse-ventures.co.nz

Year incubator was established: 2001

The problem: Academics in Canterbury, New Zealand, are rarely motivated to commercialize their own technologies through start-up ventures, although many of them are conducting world-class research. In fact, only 36 spin-outs have developed from New Zealand universities and government research institutes over the last five years. Powerhouse Ventures recognized the need to better capitalize the commercial value of the region's research base.

The solution: In 2008, Powerhouse Ventures in collaboration with Lincoln University established "Venture Out," an innovative entrepreneurship program designed to extract more commercial ventures from universities and research institutes. Through the program, teams of students learn about entrepreneurship while getting hands-on experience developing a business plan using real intellectual property.

As part of the program, up to 20 students participate in a week-long Innovation Challenge boot camp, where they form venture teams to formalize plans for pre-selected, research-based technology from early-stage incubator clients. The teams research a customer problem, establish a value proposition, propose a business model, and, if possible, identify a potential customer. The week culminates with each team pitching its business proposition to a panel of technology professionals.

The program has successfully helped Powerhouse Ventures reach its target of six new high-quality research-based ventures per year. According to powerHouse CEO Stephen Hampson, the program has increased the quantity and quality of research-based deal flow by capitalizing on student's innovative and diverse perspectives. "By the end of the week, the level of buzz generated by the creativity and intense work of the students is phenomenal," he says. "The industry judges are astounded by the quality of the pitches, especially in comparison to ideas they are presented from within their organizations."

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