In the face of COVID-19, hundreds of startups, innovative businesses and individuals ready to roll up their sleeves have been recruited into New Zealand’s largest taskforce to Hack the Crisis.

Designed to solve real problems in a post-COVID New Zealand, Hack the Crisis is a 48 hour challenge open to all, kicking off April 13 at

Startup communities stretching the country from Whangarei to Invercargill are being called to action in what has been described by the GM of Lightning Lab Luke Ball as “a truly united response to help kickstart our economy.”

This will be the first time New Zealand’s publicly supported incubators across the country will collaborate on such a scale. Between them, the hubs support over 800 startups and emerging businesses in their communities.

Luke Ball NZ
Luke Ball, GM of Lightning Lab startup accelerator.

Industry experts are sharing their problem statements to drive ideas beyond personal protection equipment and frontline medical platforms. Laurel Reitel, of Callaghan Innovation’s Startup team, says the national effort is doing an amazing job working on first-response solutions, so this is about looking for actionable ideas beyond the “primary crisis challenges,” she says. “What will life look like after COVID and what practical tools and services will we need to manage? What solutions will help us look after the nation’s mental health and wellbeing with economic and employment impacts in sectors like hospitality and tourism? How can we help build resilience within our communities?”

Hack the Crisis is 100% digital and will be run through online platforms Zoom, Slack and Guaana, meaning anyone with an internet connection can join the effort.

Ball expects numbers greater than seen in any Startup Weekend. “We’re excited about channelling this collaborative network to help tackle the challenges facing Kiwis in life beyond COVID,” he said. “We’ve already seen new platforms to connect people to the help they need, apps to reduce waiting time at supermarkets; and marketplaces for equipment and jobs. We want to supercharge this innovation by involving the wider public. This event is a great opportunity for anyone with an idea to team up with people with different skills and to build tangible products, services or initiatives.”

Hack the Crisis, launched in Estonia in response to the COVID-19 has been extended to over 30 countries across the world. New Zealand’s submissions open Monday April 13.

Hack the Crisis focus areas

  • Secondary wellbeing measures such as resilience and mental health
  • Connecting people and communities
  • Protecting and supporting businesses

Learn more or join Hack the Crisis New Zealand here.

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