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Startups announced for Lightning Lab Tourism accelerator

17 May 2019

New Zealand’s biggest business accelerator, Lightning Lab, has announced the startups selected to take part in its first-ever programme for businesses in the tourism sector, an industry ripe for innovation.

Lightning Lab Tourism focuses on building a sustainable innovation ecosystem for the future of tourism in New Zealand. Of almost 70 applications, the following teams have been selected to take part:

  • Road Guru: connecting local drivers and guides with visitors
  • PowerTrip: integrating electric vehicles into the tourism industry
  • Stay Native: sharing authentic indigenous experiences
  • Hidden Gems: an A to Z catalogue of all the special spots that make Christchurch unique
  • AirGuides: a marketplace where travellers can book trips, curated by vetted writers, bloggers and local experts
  • CHU NZ: exploring the use of sustainable facilities for road trippers
  • Tourism Ticker: media, data and analysis service providing insights to the tourism industry

These startup teams will be joined by two industry project teams;

  • SOUTH Project: supported by The Christchurch International Airport and Air New Zealand, will focus on bringing better visitor flow insights to regional tourism offices and operators.
  • Voluntourism project: supported by the Ministry of Business, Employment and Innovation, will develop volunteer-oriented tourism opportunities that could change the face of tourism in New Zealand.

Teams will work directly with tourism industry partners and practice market validation and product development methods used by companies like Google, IDEO, and Tesla.

Christchurch will host the accelerator and providing support and connections to participants where necessary. 

ChristchurchNZ GM Destination & Attraction Loren Heaphy said we are excited to be hosting this New Zealand-first tourism incubator in Christchurch, exploring solutions to challenges in tourism, one of the most important industries for both the city and New Zealand.

"It is proactive incubators like this that will future-proof tourism in New Zealand for years to come, and bring long lasting legacies to destinations like Christchurch as we look to develop a compelling and sustainable visitor proposition."

ChristchurchNZ GM Destination & Attraction Loren Heaphy

"They’ll be provided with full wrap-around support from startup coaches, business leaders, advisors and mentors to help validate and grow their businesses." Heaphy said.

At the end of the three months, each venture will have the opportunity to pitch to their supporters and the broader tourism sector in a large Demo Day event, to be held at the new Christchurch Town Hall.

Teams seeking investment will also get to present to some of the top angel investors and early-stage venture funds in the country in a separate investor-only event.

Jeffrey Ling, Lightning Lab Tourism’s Programme Director says:

“Tourism is one of NZ’s biggest industries and tourism operators are some of the most innovative, adventurous people in NZ. I’m excited to come back to Christchurch — my former home of ten years — to help this very capable cohort test, validate, and ultimately grow their businesses.”

Lightning Lab Tourism is supported by Callaghan Innovation, Christchurch International Airport, Tourism Industry Aotearoa, Air New Zealand, Centrality, ChristchurchNZ, Department of Conservation, Data Ventures, MYOB, Qrious, Amadeus, AWS, Deloitte and Simmonds Stewart.