Manawatū Sci-tech Startups Get Momentum Boost –

Manawatū-based university science and technology staff
and student entrepreneurs will be able to bring their
startup projects to market faster, and with more likelihood
of success, when the fifth branch of the Momentum
Investment Committee
(MIC) launches in Palmerston North
today (August 12).

The Momentum Programme was the
first of its kind when it launched with the formation of a
student-led investment committee by the University of
Auckland’s commercialisation arm, UniServices, in June
2017. Momentum Investment Committees are formed from a
diverse range of students, investors, industry, and science
commercialisation experts with students making up most of
the seats.

The committee provides budding
entrepreneurs with expert advice, international connections,
direction, and funding support to help commercialise their

“As a result, business and investment
sectors can expect to see these ‘pre-seed’ intellectual
property (IP) and technology projects coming to market
faster, better prepared and with greater chance of
success,” explains Graham Scown, Momentum’s Programme
and Commercialisation Director.

Momentum Investment
Committees are accredited by the Ministry of Business,
Innovation, and Employment (MBIE) to make investment
decisions and recommendations for placement of PreSeed
Accelerator Funds.

The Momentum Programme has been
rolled out progressively across New Zealand. To date, the
programme has 162 projects in action – 96 in Auckland, 32
in Wellington, 17 in Otago and 14 in Canterbury. There are
three exciting projects on the agenda for the first
Manawatū Momentum meeting.

An earlier example of a
Momentum project is Luxor Astronautics. Luxor was first
developed through the University of Auckland’s Velocity
programme and then its VentureLab incubator and has been
presented to Auckland Momentum twice in its early

“Fia Jones of Luxor was a first-year student
at the University of Auckland. She had an idea of powering
satellites in space, so they last many times longer. With
Momentum’s involvement, the project has received support
and they are on their way to building their first prototype
right here in New Zealand,” says Mr Scown.

He says
he’s confident the Manawatū will prove to be a hot-bed of
game-changing innovations that will contribute to putting
New Zealand back on the road to economic recovery and
employment growth, with the help of the Momentum

Momentum Investment Committees naturally
incorporate te ao Māori into each meeting, another example
of the programme’s unique model and values. Karakia and
Mihi are delivered at the beginning and end of each
investment committee meeting, and the roles of Kaikarakia
(karakia leader) and Kaimihi (mihi leader) are

The Palmerston North online launch will
deliver the Momentum waiata for the first

“Momentum is committed to giving life to
Vision Mātauranga. We are therefore committed to te reo
Māori me ōna tikanga (the Māori language and its cultural
practices), and to engaging meaningfully with te ao Māori,
me te iwi Māori (the Maori world and iwi),” says
UniServices Kaiarahi, Geremy Hema.

It is also the
first time Momentum has successfully recruited a student
from a polytech (Universal College of Learning) onto a
committee. Jerry Shearman, Executive Director Education
& Research at UCOL says “We see Momentum as a great
platform for our students to engage with the process of
growing entrepreneurs and at the same time adding skills to
their kete. There’s also much that our students can offer
in terms of ideas for potential

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