Celebrating innovation and entrepreneurship across New Zealand.

Innovation Nation

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Innovation, Vision, Daring… three values at the heart of our world famous Kiwi entrepreneurial spirit.

Join us online here and on social media each week day from 16 November to 26 November, as we celebrate stories of innovation and entrepreneurship from around New Zealand.

Kicking off as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week, each day we’ll be taking a “virtual” roadshow to meet the entrepreneurs and organisations helping drive New Zealand forward in 2020.

Brave-hearted business owners, sizzling startups, and inspiring innovators – be inspired with the Innovation Nation 2020 Showcase!

GEW Official Activity

from the editor

A note from Richard Liew

Richard Liew - NZ Entrepreneur

Like many things entrepreneurial, Innovation Nation started as an idea for which there was no blueprint.

Two years, many re-imaginings, nine regions, a global pandemic and some 80 awesome businesses later, I am delighted to present you with Innovation Nation 2020.

After what can only be described as a very challenging year, affecting so many businesses, business owners and employees, take heart knowing that the Kiwi entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well. As they say, innovation never sleeps.

My sincerest thanks go out to my team, our awesome partners at MYOB, Microsoft and Chorus who encouraged us to make it happen, and most of all to the amazing entrepreneurs and members of our innovation ecosystem who stepped up to take part.

Your visions, courage and creations in the face of uncertainty and adversity are truly inspiring. Kia kaha Aotearoa!


Innovation Nation is made with help of the following organisations. Click to learn about their services for entrepreneurs.

Follow Innovation Nation

Learn more about each region and view their Innovation Nation stories below.

Innovation happens in all industries in businesses of all sizes. The businesses and stories we’ve featured this year range from “solopreneurs”, to high growth startups, to social enterprises and established organisations innovating and reinventing their markets.

Most importantly, innovation is continuing to happen right across New Zealand and as you’ll see from the businesses featured, it’s sometimes found in the most surprising of places and in the most challenging of circumstances.

Follow us on social media

It’s easy to follow our stories from each of the different regions each day. Just like or follow us on your favourite social media below and be inspired with some of the fascinating entrepreneurial stories happening around New Zealand this year.

Facebook: Facebook.com/nzentrepreneur
Twitter: twitter.com/nzpreneur
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/nz-entrepreneur

See all the stories

Click to see the stories from each region each day.





Bay of Plenty

Bay of Plenty









Hawke’s Bay

Hawke's Bay



Editor’s Top 10 Picks

Our favourite innovation stories of 2020 as selected by the Editor.

A global pandemic, a month long “work, play, pray and stay” at home lockdown, toilet paper hoarding, universal wage subsidy support, closed borders, tourist-free towns, Be Kind, #BLM, an NZ election, a US election, no sports or gigs, not-quite-negative interest rates, burgeoning sharemarkets, out of control property prices… Periods of sheer disbelief interspersed with reflection, gratitude and joy…

In what we can only describe as the “weirdest” year in our recent memories, thank goodness for all the awesome and inspiring stories of resilience, resourcefulness, optimism and innovation that we’ve had the pleasure of seeing this year. To all the entrepreneurs we’ve featured in 2020, thankyou on behalf of all the team here at NZ Entrepreneur – it’s been a real privilege to help tell your stories!

Thanks also to all of you, our readers, fellow entrepreneurs and amazing leaders, mentors and supporters of what we call the NZ innovation ecosystem – your support, input and enthusiasm for our work makes it all worthwhile.

A snapshot of Kiwi innovation in 2020

With so many interesting and inspiring Innovation Nation stories to choose from it was a tough job narrowing our Editor’s Picks down to just one story from each region (in fact we had to sneak in one more because we just couldn’t choose!)

From fixing stinky underarms, to cutting edge tech; from the kitchen table, to the cloud; from first time entrepreneurs to seasoned campaigners – we are sure you will be just as inspired by the Kiwi entrepreneurs and social change-makers below as we were.

Our goal with this selection is to present what we believe to be a really great snapshot of innovation and entrepreneurship in New Zealand in 2020. Of course, with COVID playing such a big part this year, there were customer and product pivots abound, some of which you can read about in the stories below.


On-the-Go Smoothy Drops taking off in New Zealand


Taranaki-based Kaitahi is an iwi-owned enterprise making frozen superfood smoothy drops out of traditional Maori ingredients.  Being predominantly rural, the iwi (tribe) wanted to look for opportunities outside of the dairy and mining industries that would provide employment, and businesses that were less invasive on the environment.  They weren’t only searching for opportunities that would […]


The BeauBin shows it’s horses for courses in innovation


After years of iterations, Palmerston North’s Peurgon successfully combined two hay-feeding methods, resulting in a product that’s saving both time and money for horse owners.  It’s difficult for company founder Chelsea Hirst to identify the exact moment she launched her business. She began designing and developing a product in mid-2014, but she would hardly call […]

Real Rad Food

Real Rad Food’s agile response to lockdown proves “game-changer”


While many Kiwi businesses are scrambling to stay afloat, Papamoa-based company, Real Rad Food, is doing better than ever, thanks to its swift and smart response to COVID-19 restrictions. 25-year-old founder, Hannah Mellsop, initially created the company in 2017 to help cafés provide healthy, allergen-friendly and beautiful sweet cabinet treats. But when lockdown hit, the […]

Hot Lime Labs

NZ smarts brings renewable CO2 a step closer for growers


Wellington’s Hot Lime Labs has developed a new technology to increase greenhouse crop yields and reduce carbon footprints by turning waste wood into clean, sustainable CO2. Dr. Vlatko Materic might have given up on his business idea, now known as Hot Lime Labs, if not for a chance visit to a commercial tomato and capsicum greenhouse […]

The Cookie Project

Startup Watch: The Cookie Project


Co-Founders: Eric Chuah & Graeme Haddon HQ: Auckland What problems do you solve and what products or services do you sell? Not many people realise that in New Zealand, one in four Kiwis have a disability and their employment rate is only 22%. Their median income is half of those who are non-disabled. The Cookie […]

Equall app

If We Can Beat COVID, We Can Beat Discrimination


Inspired by the COVID tracing app, Otago-based startup Equall.app is aiming to help communities and businesses identify and stamp out discrimination. For Duncan Faulkner, a tech entrepreneur from Otago, 2020 was always going to be the year of change. After spending the last five years building and growing Auditz, an app helping small to medium-sized […]


Kiwi tech keeps bees and keepers buzzing


Born out of a private technology incubator (LayerX Group), Hamilton-based ModuSense is bringing cutting edge sensor technology to an ancient industry. Erin Westover explains. Bruce Trevarthen has a way of entering into up-and-coming industries at the right time. In the late ’90s, he started E-Solutions and brought major Kiwi businesses online. Rebranded in 2001 to […]


Partly raises $1.7 million seed funding from all star consortium


Partly has raised $1.7 million from an all star consortium of international and domestic investors led by Australasia’s venture capital investor, Blackbird Ventures, with Hillfarrance Ventures and Icehouse Ventures as co-investors. The company has included an additional 11 angel investors including Rocket Lab Founder Peter Beck and ex-Head of eBay Motors UK, Tony Austin. $1.7 […]


Profile: Ultrella


Founder: Mel Lewis HQ: Hawke’s Bay What problems do you solve and what products or services do you sell? Here at Ultrella, we solve physical problems such as sweat and body odour. They may seem like trivial niggles and nags, but they have the power to derail your day. We are producers of innovative body […]

Riposte Analytics

Gisborne-made social media platform to use data for good


Gisborne-based Riposte Analytics is a social app, and analytics platform aiming to enable users to create change by leveraging our natural sharing tendencies. Erin Westover finds out more. Social media platforms are treasure troves of data; the only problem is, the data we create is often repackaged and sold to businesses by third parties. Products […]


Innovation Nation is an NZ Entrepreneur Magazine and Startup NZ initiative.

Editorial Team

Richard Liew, Editor
Erin Westover, PR Manager
Michael Botur, Journalist
Hannah McCreery, Journalist
Jodi Olsson, Graphic Designer

Contact details

Richard Liew, Editor, NZ Entrepreneur Magazine Ltd
Email richardl@nzentrepreneur.co.nz

Corporate Supporters

Microsoft NZ

Ecosystem Partners

Global Entrepreneurship Network NZ
Collectively NZ
Startup Dunedin
Startup Queenstown Lakes
Business Hawke’s Bay
Venture Taranaki
Venture Centre
Soda Inc

The Editor would like to acknowledge the following individuals

Emma McMulkin, Vitor Cabrera, Luke Henshall, Pascale Hyboud-Peron, Jo Allum, Luke Ball, Terry Shubkin, Sandy Geyer, Candice Baker, Colart Miles, Boyd Warren, Carolyn Neville, Brenda Newth, Pam Ford, Erin Wansbrough, David Perks, Linda Stewart, Michelle Jordan, Rachel Butler, Dave Moskovitz, Marwan Jamal, Katherine Blaney, Olivia Wensley, James Burns, Dylan Gowan, James Weir.