News, Insights and Stories from the Australian and New Zealand tech ecosystem.

New Zealand’s Lightning Lab is launching an accelerator programme focused on hardware and product startups

New Zealand based digital accelerator Lightning Lab has officially opened for applications for its new Lightning Lab Manufacturing accelerator which will run from August to October this year in Wellington.

Lightning Lab has a reputation for being one of New Zealand’s premier accelerator organisations. It is currently in its third year; and the last two classes resulted in over NZ$4.4 million of investment being made in the participating companies.

Creative HQ is the team behind Lightning Lab; and they have been working behind the scenes to adapt the current acceleration format of intensive mentoring, networking and business up-skilling to make the programme suitable for physical products and hardware.

This upcoming programme will still run within a similar framework to past programmes in that it will last for three months and conclude with a Demo Day, giving teams the chance to pitch their companies to a room full of investors and key stakeholders within the New Zealand startup community.

Lightning Lab is supported by Callaghan Innovation, Hutt City Council and Grow Wellington. The Lightning Lab Manufacturing programme has been designed to give hardware a ‘dose of acceleration mojo’ that to date has only really been applied to digital ventures within the New Zealand startup ecosystem.

“Globally, accelerator programmes have proven success in stimulating opportunities for startups and entrepreneurs,” says Cath Hopkin, Innovation Business Acceleration Manager at Callaghan Innovation. “I am looking forward to [seeing] this unique platform of intense support and validation applied to the product and manufacturing sector”.

A major coup for the programme is that Shawn O’Keefe, Producer of SXSW Interactive for 14 years, has moved to Wellington to take on the manufacturing accelerator’s Programme Director role.

“3D printing, hardware hacking, biometric sensors, the internet of things, so many new technologies are becoming much more available, particularly in the product and manufacturing space,” says O’Keefe. “I’m excited to see what happens when we combine these developments with the creativity and spirit of invention so prevalent here in the Wellington region.”

Creative HQ’s CEO, Stefan Korn says he is stoked to have Shawn become part of the Creative HQ family: “With his impressive background with SXSW, extensive network and phenomenal experience in this space, Shawn will be an asset to the Lightning Lab Manufacturing, Creative HQ, and the region.”

The focus of the accelerator programme will be on turning prototypes into successful businesses. Design and product development partners are currently being brought on board to assist with the production methods at a variety of stages. It is most likely that the ventures already producing in small volumes or that have a fully functioning prototype will be the companies to gain the most out of the accelerator.

Lightning Lab Manufacturing is currently working with Makers Org NZ to run HardHack NZ on June 6th – a 12 hour hackathon which will give tinkerers a taste of what the programme will involve as a part of Hutt City’s STEM week this week.

Lightning Lab Digital Auckland will conclude with their Demo Day on June 4. Lightning Lab Digital Christchurch is currently accepting applications until June 12 and Lightning Lab Manufacturing is currently accepting applications until June 26. For more information on the manufacturing accelerator or to apply for the program, visit the Lightning Lab website.