University SPARK Business Innovation

This is the press release for the 2011 Qualifiers' Celebration.




Tractor-driving robots and foreign language learning software are among the latest crop of bright ideas from the 2011 edition of Spark: The University of Auckland Entrepreneurship Challenge.


The ventures are among 11 qualifiers announced last night [June 30] in Spark’s $40K Challenge, aimed at turning first class ideas into world class businesses.


Other qualifiers include a product to protect alloy rims, an interactive multimedia mapping system and specialised diet products. The teams now go on to receive extensive mentoring and training from industry veterans, before submitting their final business plans for judging.


The winning team, judged on the overall commercial potential of their venture, will be named in September and receive $30,000 plus time in The ICEHOUSE valued at $10,000 to develop their business into a viable commercial enterprise.


Spark CEO Manoj Patel says despite the complex nature of many of the entries, a number of teams already have working prototypes and have advanced their ventures beyond just ideas on paper.


“Spark is aimed at fostering the development of new businesses but what the challenge really shows is that innovation and entrepreneurship are thriving at The University of Auckland.


“This year we had 63 teams and more than 160 participants put forward a venture summary on their enterprising idea.


“The challenge is about entrepreneurship in action, finding teams or individuals who have ideas with great potential and then giving them the added resources and support they need to create a viable business.”


Now in its third year, and boasting 800 participants since inception, the student-led Spark has attracted business ideas of all persuasions from all corners of the University. Ideas for 2011 include web-based business programmes, biomedical advances, initiatives that target the development of music and social skills, and innovations targeting energy efficiency, food technology and pest control.


While only 11 teams progress to the finals, the remaining 52 entries have a second opportunity at winning if they choose to re-submit their ideas in either the $10K or Spark Aspire Challenges. A new addition this year, Spark Aspire is aimed at encouraging entries that target social change and environmental responsibility.


This year the Auckland team also supported the University of Canterbury to launch its own entrepreneurship challenge.


ASB Bank’s Dave Chambers, who acted as head judge says the qualifiers all have the potential to be good and some might actually become great.

 “The next few weeks will be a test of each competitor’s mettle to see whether they have the commitment and stamina to take a great idea and turn it into a great business plan that can, most importantly, be turned into a business.” 


Manoj says the growing popularity of these challenges stems from New Zealanders’ "can - do" attitude and desire to put their ideas into action.


“There is certainly no lack of innovative people and ideas in New Zealand but while all of them are specialists in their own area, they often lack the business knowledge it takes to make a small or medium-sized business viable and sustainable. 


“Entrepreneurship challenges step straight into this void. Spark, by offering every entrant access to the University’s free Vision to Business programmes and mentoring, goes a long way to providing the skills and knowledge needed to launch a business.”  


Spark is a student-led initiative of The Postgraduate Students Association, in conjunction with The University of Auckland Business School and The ICEHOUSE.


Spark’s Gold Partners are ASB BANK, Auckland UniServices Ltd, Microsoft, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and The Edwards Charitable Trust.





For more information


Deborah Gray

Baldwin Boyle Group

Ph: 09 486 6544

Mb: 021 827 510





Category:         IT HARDWARE is a producer of software simulated robots. Our robots have artificial intelligence, three dimensional animated models and look human-like. They have emotions and logical reasoning ability. Users can talk with our robots with natural language through typing or by voice, with the robots having human voice and facial expressions to express their emotions. They can act as customer service operators, or teachers to talk about your products or services over the internet or in a kiosk. To date, our robots have been working as museum guides, assistant lecturers for different courses for different Universities and customer service operators for e-commerce web sites.


Grand Challenge

Grand Challenge invents robots that drive cars … and trucks, bulldozers and tractors! In fact, Grand Challenge aims to create the safest, most reliable, most accurate and most intelligent drivers in the world … every single one of them a robot. Our robotic driver drives whole convoys in war torn areas without risking a single human life. It drives in irradiated or diseased zones, inside volcanoes and over ice flows, in areas too dangerous for a human to go. The robotic driver drives for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, allowing us to fully capture the value of our vehicles – whether we’re building a road, operating a mine or top dressing a field. Finally, the autonomous robotic driver is precise, effectively removing overlap when planting crop rows and allowing vehicles to move faster, dramatically improving efficiency.


Space Dome Technologies Ltd           

Space Dome Technologies Ltd has built a 3D interactive module offering the ultimate 'virtual reality' experience, with the objective of serving as a recreational and educational tool for a target audience. A prototype space ship simulated motion ride has been constructed and developed at our warehouse in Tauranga, and will be fitted out with the latest computerized equipment in Auckland. A combination of leading edge technologies has been skilfully blended to produce a world class simulator including locally produced HD film. With a protomodel successfully up and running in the market, our next aim will be towards mass production of these modules with a view to expand into the wider national and global market. Currently SDT is working swiftly towards its final phase of completion before its scheduled launch into the market.



Category:         IT SOFTWARE


One Track Mind

Online information about tourism has been growing since the invention of the Internet. Tourists demand more and more information and tourism regions have to enable them to form a better images about what to expect and how to plan and prepare. One Track Mind has developed an interactive multimedia mapping system called TrackInfo. Interactive maps and multimedia content enable tourists to dive into maps and to virtually explore and discover places. Trackinfo can be applied as a web solution or as an interactive kiosk. Its consumer inspired, research-based history has produced a product unparalleled in its features and ease of use.



 We are developing a comprehensive foreign language learning software package, offering fast and natural learning.  It combines a common technique of binding foreign words with images and a novel scientific approach. The software will cover a vocabulary of 5,000-10,000 words, allowing a student to watch TV and read newspapers in the target language after the completion of the course. The development of such comprehensive course is made possible by an innovation that allows decreasing developmental costs and optimising learning.



Our idea deals with the problem surrounding the difficulty of controlling (human) temperature against environmental conditions. With this idea we can control specific area and specific temperature through heat transmission. Our design also allows for expansion, enabling it to be used with any mammal or object, and performing the process in a cheaper, more versatile, and more durable manner than current market alternatives. Our initial use is envisaged in the healthcare area, such as in the emergency treatment of patients. Our final product will offer the ability to control the temperature of an object at various temperatures over its entire surface, while in very close proximity to one another.


Category:         CONSUMER


Nikeo Ltd: The vision of Nikeo Ltd is to improve the physical and spiritual well being of families world-wide by offering an excitingly new juice unlike any other beverage on the market. It is a blend of fruit juices with the special ingredient of an exotic fruit that gives it a very distinctive and enjoyable taste. Its many health benefits improve overall well being. However, initially it will be packaged as a classy brand of juice and marketed exclusively to the top end of the hospitality industry of Dubai.




Magmate: We are bringing to the market an innovative product to protect alloy rims from day to day damage. MAGMATE is a High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) plastic injection moulded right that discretely fixes to the outer edge of an alloy rim in a fashion similar to some tyre balancing weights.  MAGMATE works by forming an impact/scratch barrier between the rim edge and the potentially damaging object. It absorbs and deflects the impact and scratches inherent with curb collision. HDPE is a tough, low cost, impact resistant and translucent plastic ideally suited to the task.


FLEXIwire Inc – no public summary available





The NutraZeuticals Team

The Auckland NUTRAZEUTICAL Group has developed a range of specialised diets, containing previously unused natural nutrients called nutraceuticals. These clinically proven, novel nutrition products are formulated to aid recovery, reduce infection risks and shorten hospital stays of seriously ill patients. They will be manufactured in New Zealand, using new pharmaceutical technology, to maximise shelf life, minimise hospital manipulations and conserve healthcare costs.


LIME Biotech

LIME Biotech aspires to create Leading Innovations in Microbial and Environmental Biotechnology. Globally there is a paradigm shift towards developing sustainable technologies and investigating strategies to reduce human impact on the earth. Through the practical application of contemporary scientific knowledge in microbial biotechnology and ecology, we have developed two innovative strategies for the bioremediation of hazardous and greenhouse gases.

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