In Founder Focus we introduce entrepreneurs and change-makers working on innovative startups, social enterprises and SME’s around Aotearoa New Zealand.

At a glance

Founders: Sabine Doolin and Robert Sadleir

Business: QWB Lab

Founded: 2021

HQ: Auckland

Can you tell us a bit about your business?

QWB Lab unlocks the value of culture by measuring wellbeing.

Using our service offering based on data analytics, measurement and technology, we empower museums, galleries, libraries, heritage sites, and other culture organisations to be, and be seen as, wellbeing incubators and catalysts for their community.

We believe that wellbeing is more than just wellness. Wellbeing is the foundation for building a sustainable and flourishing society. The OECD recommends wellbeing as an alternative to GDP to measure national performance, an approach the New Zealand Treasury has adopted and other economies around the world are engaging.

Culture organisations contribute to this wellbeing in many ways, but this is often overlooked. QWB Lab (which stands for Quantum Wellbeing Lab) offers an approach, training and an online services platform enabling culture organisations to measure, understand, articulate, and improve their contribution to the wellbeing of society. QWB Lab’s services empower organisations to realise this latent value and make it more tangible for the public, and for funders, donors and stakeholders, increasing the potential for receiving funding and further resources.

Our vision is to strengthen the long-term sustainability of arts and culture organisations, their contribution to urban placemaking and community resilience, and building thriving cities. We believe culture can play an important role in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

What’s the backstory for your business idea?

During Covid we noticed that more people realised that the arts contribute to their wellbeing. We also saw funding and sustainability of culture organisations coming under more pressure. This caused Robert, an economist, and Sabine, a strategy consultant in the cultural sector, to consider how we could help solve this dilemma.

Culture organisations deliver value in many different ways, yet can find it hard to express. Attendance numbers and economic impact are used as measures, but don’t reflect the true value. We asked ourselves – how can the value of culture be unlocked?

Inspired by the OECD wellbeing framework and the Māori view of hauora as a combination of physical, mental, social and spiritual aspects of people’s lives, we designed a system to measure the value of culture for wellbeing.

We want to amplify the value of culture for society and get more people to enjoy and support it.

What programmes, learning or mentoring, or resources have been of assistance so far?

  • For the last eighteen months we have been working with the wonderful team at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū on a pilot project, which has enabled us to proof our concept, trial our services, gain client insights, and refine and further develop our offering.
  • We are grateful for funding from the Cultural Sector Innovation Fund from Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage, which allowed us to develop an MVP (minimum viable product) online platform (visual assets and specific analytics and outputs).
  • Sabine found the Electrify Aotearoa conference stimulating, targeted at women founders; it offers a few more subtle perspectives on entrepreneurship.
  • Robert has benefited from the Impulse Program for Innovation at the University of Cambridge.
  • David Hieatt, founder of Hiut Denim and The Do Lectures, inspires our business and marketing approach, in particular in relation to purpose, and the potential of a newsletter.
  • Robert’s paper on “Unlocking Value in Museums and Art Galleries Through Measuring Wellbeing” was published in a book entitled The Brain-Friendly Museums edited by Annalisa Banzi (Routledge 2023).


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