Hamilton based business growth driver, Soda Inc., is expanding its services to support more businesses as the Waikato’s new Regional Business Partner (RBP).

Funded by the New Zealand Government, the Regional Business Partner (RBP) Network connects business of all sizes, industries and stages of growth to the right advice, support, resources and funding, to accelerate business growth, strengthen capability and support entrepreneurship.

“Over the last 12 years, Soda has worked with hundreds of Kiwi entrepreneurs and business owners to develop their capability, whilst simultaneously driving business growth and innovation in Aotearoa. We are thrilled to expand our services and become a one-stop-shop for all Waikato businesses. In this new role we will provide independent support and enable access to the wide range of Government business growth support and funding available through Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and Callaghan Innovation,” says Soda CEO, Erin Wansbrough.

“Many business owners and managers are unaware that there is a large amount of specialist and technical support available to them. Additionally, there is a wide range of government funding available through MBIE and Callaghan Innovation to support investment in growing internal business capability and research and development.”

“As a Hamilton based organisation that has supported business across Aotearoa, we are excited about working even more closely with the diversity of local business owners and managers from the greater Waikato region. Soda has excellent contacts and relationships within the Waikato and wider New Zealand network. We also have experience and expertise in applying pragmatic, impactful and modern business process and strategies to enable tangible business growth,” she adds.

The Waikato region stretches from Coromandel through to Otorohanga and Taupo. Soda aims to support 500 small-to-medium businesses per annum from across the region through the RBP programme.

“Soda has an outstanding record and reputation for accelerating business growth for startups and I have no doubt that these skills, knowledge and connections will see Soda excel as the Waikato’s Regional Business Partner,” says Soda Chairman, Dr Andrew West.

Soda Inc.
Soda Chairman, Dr Andrew West.

The Regional Business Partner programme was previously managed by Te Waka, who after four years made the decision earlier in 2022 not to re-tender for the contract.

“The RBP programme is an important element within the economic development ecosystem in the Waikato region,” noted Hamish Bell, Te Waka Chair.

“We regard its continuation as vital to the SME sector, and took the view that others were better placed to deliver to this segment of the market, allowing us to focus on more strategic impact initiatives across the region.”

He added, “We are delighted to see Soda – a close business partner for Te Waka – secure this contract and are confident in their ability to extend the success of the programme.”

Soda will no longer offer intensive entrepreneurship support such as its LIFT programmes but will continue to support founders and startups through a range of online and in-person programmes and workshops including RISE UP – a seed grant and accelerator for globally ambitious female founders – and is looking at launching a Waikato focused programme for founders in 2023.

“I’d like to thank Soda’s longstanding supporters who have been instrumental to our success and growth over the last decade – Wintec, Te Pūkenga, Callaghan Innovation, Gallaghers, ASB, Deloitte. Norris Ward McKinnon and MinterEllisonRuddWatts,” says Wansbrough.

Dr West, adds: “I’d like to acknowledge the continued support of Soda’s sole shareholder, Wintec, and am pleased that the business growth role fits well with our new shareholder, Te Pūkenga.”

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