Wananga landing

Validator Challenge Series 2023-25

16 September 2023

Prove the potential of your ideas. Learn more about the Validator Challenge Series!


This series of Challenges aims to stimulate innovation and the commercialisation of new ideas in key economic sectors in Waitaha Canterbury and beyond.

Over the 2023-2025 period there will be seven Validators, each targeting a priority industry sector. We are looking for innovative individuals to discover whether your idea, research or non-commercialised product has the potential to be developed further.

Participating is a valuable opportunity to access high quality content and coaching, make industry connections, link into Waitaha Canterbury’s amazing innovation eco-system and gain exposure.

The Validator Challenge Series is powered by ChristchurchNZ, delivered by the University of Canterbury’s Centre for Entrepreneurship (UCE) and partnered by key industry players. Success will result in the creation of new startups, implementation of in-house innovations, job creation, and GDP.

A Validator is a structured programme that equips entrepreneurs and researchers to systematically and objectively establish if a viable market exists for their idea – before resources are spent on full-scale product development, commercialisation and market entry.

This reduces the failure rate of new ventures and in-house innovations by confirming whether or not a product or technology actually solves a problem, meets user needs, and that there is a market prepared to pay for it.

At the end of a Validator, you should be able to decide whether or not to PARK your idea, PIVOT it to achieve a better product/solution fit, or PERSEVERE and continue to spend effort and resources – perhaps as part of an incubator – to develop the product further.

We are looking for 20 industry specific ventures to be part of each of the seven Validator programmes.

Each Validator is open to any team or individual living in New Zealand at the time of the entry submission deadline with a venture idea, research project, or a non-commercialised product, that could transform the future of the Waitaha Canterbury region and beyond.

A pool of relevant and experienced judges is used to select participants into the programme and to determine the finalists who compete for the cash and in-kind prizes.

Each Validator runs for eight to ten weeks  culminating with a finale showcase where 10 selected ventures pitch their solutions in front of a wide audience with the chance to win prizes.

Structured content is delivered by the UCE team and industry experts, and participants are further supported with one-on-one mentoring, individual coaching, and connections to relevant industry players.

The Validator is primarily delivered in-person, with an online option for those living outside of Canterbury. Three key events are compulsory to attend in person – the Launch, the Industry Day and the Finale event – as this boosts the cohort learning effect and introduces the ventures to key industry players, supporters and potential funders.

 Topics covered include:

  • Problem definition
  • Customer identification
  • Market validation
  • Value proposition
  • Business model
  • Financials, financing introduction
  • Pitching skills

You will need to set aside five hours per week for the twice-weekly sessions with your Validator cohort, and about five hours of additional time (recommanded) to action what you learn.

You will receive the necessary knowledge and techniques needed to determine whether or not an idea, product or technology actually solves a problem or meets user needs, and if there is a market prepared to pay for it.

This will allow you to confidently define your idea’s value proposition to customers, product/solution fit, high level product specification, estimate the total addressable market and choose a first target market/customer segment.

Additionally, you will connect with, and learn from, like-minded individuals within Waitaha Canterbury’s amazing innovation eco-system, who will challenge, teach and support you on your validator journey and beyond.

With a cash prize pool and in-kind support on offer, access to valuable content, mentors, funding sources, industry exposure and key connections, this is the perfect opportunity to turn your idea into a successful venture.

Ōtautahi Christchurch is a city where businesses flourish – especially those just beginning their journey.

Home to high-growth startups, the city’s startup eco-system is globally ranked in the top 250 cities and you can access tailor-made support that is dedicated to shaping your business and taking it past start mode. The validator programme is part of that robust startup eco-system.

The city also boasts a strong economy and a wealth of talent. So take your business idea from go to grow in Ōtautahi Christchurch and get involved in the Validator Challenge Series 2023-25.

Upcoming Challenges

Past Challenges

What Participants Say:

“Go for it. If it’s your first venture, it’ll open your eyes”

“I really enjoyed the collective cohort energy and to challenge my assumptions” 

“You get to meet so many knowledgeable people in such a short time” 

“I came to UCE for the energy, experiences and progress”


More information

If you have any questions about the Validator Challenge Series 2023-25, please email us.

Powered by
CNZ logo
Smart Christchurch logo
Delivered by
UCE logo
FFA winners
FFA Presentation
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.