Innovate 2015 Winner Announced

kevin-webBuilding a business is great – but it’s even better if your success can help others. This year’s Innovate winner is on track to change the lives of thousands.

Winner Kevin Halsall’s Ogo is a revolutionary wheel chair that blends cutting edge electronics and battery technology with an innovative intuitive hands free control system, allowing users to move with ease and get back to the things in life often taken for granted like mowing the lawn or taking a 20 kilometre per hour cruise on the beach.

“Kevin’s goal is to revolutionise personal transportation and mobility,” says the Innovate judging panel, “and he’s on his way. It’s never easy judging Innovate, but Kevin demonstrated the market very well; his IP protection is robust and he has a good feel for what is required to turn his idea into a successful business.”

The Otaki entrepreneur, who is a plastics product designer, beat 10 other finalists and took home $10,000 cash in the 2015 Innovate competition.

“We loved the fact that Kevin has an 18-month plan. That shows he knows what success is going to take,” says the panel. “The wheelchair – and the freedom it can give users – is great.”

The judging panel awarded a new prize, the 2015 Entrepreneurial Award, a $1,000 cash prize, to Corey Regenerus for Milk E-Zy, a novel way to increase milk production by straitening the teat.

“Corey delivered a fantastic pitch,” say the judges. “He’s come up with a great niche product for a specific market.  He identified a problem and worked out a potential solution that will save time in the shed and will produce more milk. While he’s at a very early stage of business development, we think he’s on to something with Milk E-Zy.”

Corey Regenerus and Milk E-Zy also took home $2,500 in the new Massey University People’s Choice Award, voted for by the Innovate Awards studio audience.

The 2015 Innovate competition began in May with the submission of 112 ideas from Manawatu, Tararua and the rest of New Zealand. Over the course of two stages, the Innovate Top 10 is chosen (this year 11 ideas); these entrants complete a 10-week market validation programme.

“The caliber of the presentations, the knowledge, thinking and the development of ideas from week one to week 10 has been amazing,” say the judges.

This is the fifth year BCC has run the Innovate competition and to date, it has attracted 1,164 entries. The competition, initially for Manawatu, has expanded to include the Tararua region. In five years, it has become the premier ideas competition in New Zealand. Six businesses have been founded out of the competition, each with up to 10 employees. Innovate is one way BCC is helping to build an entrepreneurial eco-system in the region.

“Building an innovative community takes time,” says the judging panel. “The value the Innovate programme has made is outstanding.”

“The quality of the business ideas improves every year,” says Dean Tilyard, BCC Chief Executive. “It’s great to see ideas being turned into products and businesses and it’s fantastic to see prototypes being built. Innovate keeps getting stronger every year.”

The Top 11 pitched their ideas to the judges on Wednesday and the Top Five were invited to pitch their ideas to the studio audience and judges in a Dragon’s Den at the Innovate Finals on Thursday night.

The star-studded judging panel returned from last year: Larry Ellison, James Watt, Sharon Bryant, Simon Barnett and Vicki Stewart.

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