Wananga landing Wananga landing

Student entrepreneurs pitch their big ideas to Christchurch business leaders

29 January 2020

Budding University of Canterbury (UC) student entrepreneurs will pitch their business ideas live on stage during a Dragons’ Den-style competition at The Piano next week.


Students develop their big ideas into viable business ventures as part of the University of Canterbury Centre for Entrepreneurship Summer Startup Programme.


The ventures they’re promoting include a compostable kelp-based plastic alternative, a social enterprise that provides affordable ball dresses for high school students, a technology to recover zinc from industrial waste and a company that provides data services to the blockchain industry.

Summer Startup 2 Students make the most of expert advice through a round of speed mentoring.

The UC students have been developing their new ideas for 10 weeks as part of the UC Centre for Entrepreneurship (UCE) Summer Startup Programme with the support of coaches, mentors and speakers covering topics including intellectual property, product development, market validation and measuring social impact.

The scheme is an opportunity for students to fast-track their commercial or social enterprise venture into reality.

An initial group of 24 will be narrowed down to a top 10 that will take part in the showcase on Tuesday 4 February at The Piano: Centre for Music and the Arts.

These finalists will each have three minutes to present their idea to a panel of industry experts and experienced entrepreneurs including Melissa Davies, Ben Kepes and Peter Montgomery.

UCE Director Rachel Wright says the process is challenging and exciting for the young people involved. It gives them a platform to expose their ventures to a wide audience, including potential investors and supporters.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for UC students to develop their creative business and social enterprise ideas and make a positive difference in the world. Through the Summer Startup they benefit from the skills and expertise of local business leaders and make valuable connections.”

“The showcase is also a chance for people in the community to come along and discover what the next generation of entrepreneurs in our city are up to. People enjoy watching the British TV show Dragons’ Den - this is a chance to see it for real!”

Richard Doyle, a Harvard Business School graduate who is founder of Harpoon Brewery and Chairman of Enjoy Beer Holdings, a partnership of independent brewers in the United States, has been the Entrepreneur in Residence during the Programme. His role involves daily mentoring and coaching with the students and he has been impressed by the “very entrepreneurial spirit” of the group.

“It’s creative and there’s a wide swathe of innovative products. This is summer time and these are college [university] students, and they’re here. That shows a level of commitment and they’re working hard,” he says.

“They face a lot of constructive criticism and they take it the right way, without any defensiveness. When they get out into the business world they will all be better for having been in the Programme.”

The University of Canterbury Centre for Entrepreneurship Summer Startup Showcase is at The Piano: Centre for Music and the Arts at 156 Armagh Street next Tuesday 4 February from 6pm until 8pm. It is open to the public and free tickets are available through Eventbrite.

The event will also be live streamed on UC’s Facebook page.

More information
Visit our media enquiries page to contact UC Media.
What to read next
Privacy Preferences

By clicking "Accept All Cookies", you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyse site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.