QLDC Extends Support of Startup Ecosystem Through 2021

Startup Queenstown Lakes today received confirmation through QLDC’s 2019-20 Annual Plan, that a grant of $220,000 annually for the next two years has been approved.  This commitment enables the non-profit to further progress it’s work in creating a unified startup, innovation and technology sector in the District.

Startup Queenstown Lakes evolved from the CUBE in Wanaka to be a district-wide organiser for startup and innovation.

“It’s pleasing to see coordinated support for startups across the whole district and the resulting numbers of people benefiting from the program,” said Peter Harris, QLDC’s economic development manager.

Through its numerous and mostly free programmes, Startup Queenstown Lakes supports innovators and aspiring entrepreneurs in their journey. Residents at all stages of their career attended business model canvas workshops, one-on-one advisor clinics, and numerous training sessions and activities.

The monthly Entrepreneur Coffee Jam meetups showcase local entrepreneurs in Queenstown and Wanaka, providing a place for the startup community to share experience and ask for help.  In May, the organization launched the Prospector pop-up collaboration space in the Queenstown CBD. It also launched WWIN, the Wanaka and Wakatipu Investment Network, to help connect investors with the growing startup and innovation community.

The two-year grant recognises the momentum of Startup Queenstown Lakes and will give outside parties, including Central government agencies, corporate partners, and private supporters confidence to invest time and resources with the trust.

“This investment demonstrates an incredible commitment by QLDC Councilors to invest in a more diversified economy” said David Wallace, chair of Startup Queenstown Lakes’ board of trustees. “We will continue to use these funds to establish outcome-driven programmes that serve the entire district and make a measurable impact on our economy.”

Among the highlights planned this year, Startup Queenstown Lakes will host Tourism Tech Expo on 23 August to showcase local and national tech companies serving the tourism sector. In October, it will host Startup Weekend, a 54-hour launch-a-business competition and learning experience. Additional problem-solving, innovation workshops, and skill-building programmes are expected to launch in 2020.

“We couldn’t be more excited about what’s on the horizon for the District,” said James Burnes, Chief Executive of the trust. “We’re building a wider team of advisors, engaging more and more local professionals and seasoned entrepreneurs to assist our startups, and establishing a reputation for tourism tech that we expect to be known for internationally in the coming years. It’s an exciting time to be creating a business in the Queenstown Lakes District.”

Seasoned entrepreneurs and those thinking about launching a new idea are encouraged to begin participating in programmes. Interested residents can learn more, register for an event, or sign-up to receive email updates.