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Te Papa becomes a hub of innovation for entrepreneurs

26 Apr 2016

The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa has launched its innovation hub, Mahuki – innovation powered by Te Papa.

Innovation Hub
Mahuki's general manager Tui Te Hau at the launch of Te Papa's innovation hub.

The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa has launched its innovation hub, Mahuki – innovation powered by Te Papa.

Mahuki will offer New Zealand entrepreneurs a residential programme where they can develop the next generation of experiences for the culture, heritage and learning sectors.

It is supported by a founding partnership with Vodafone New Zealand, which is investing $150,000 to help establish Mahuki.

"The kinds of innovations we are looking for will enable New Zealanders to access their national collections in new ways, and activate new kinds of storytelling,” says Te Papa Chief Executive Rick Ellis.

 “Mahuki will create incredible new experiences to touch the hearts and minds of New Zealanders.”

“When we see old soldiers in their 80s poring over a 3D digital map of Gallipoli with tears in their eyes – that’s the kind of impact we are looking for.”

Mahuki innovators will work with Te Papa's experts and collections, and have the chance to market-test their ideas with Te Papa's millions of visitors. They will work on real-world problems, informed by Te Papa's experience as a global leader in cultural experiences.

Successful innovations may be taken up by Te Papa and the New Zealand cultural sector, and exported globally.

Vodafone Head of Enterprise Business Andrew Fairgray says he was excited to see what ideas would come out of Mahuki to create “new digital pathways for New Zealanders to access their national collections”.

The first intake of around 40 residents will enter Mahuki in August and spend a four month intensive residency developing their innovations. Applications are open until 9 June.

Te Papa Chief Executive Rick Ellis says the innovation hub model enables Te Papa to tap in to the creativity of New Zealand companies.

"In the next four years our renewal programme will see us make the most dramatic changes to the museum since opening,” says Mr Ellis

"Te Papa has always been a creative powerhouse, and working with these exciting companies will bring new ideas into the mix.

"Mahuki is a place where New Zealanders can develop the 'next big thing' for the New Zealand cultural sector, and export it to the world."

Mr Ellis said the business model for taking innovations to market would depend on the individual circumstances, but Te Papa would take a 6% equity stake in companies coming in to Mahuki. Residents would receive $20,000 per company while they work in the hub.

Innovations developed in Mahuki will be available for Te Papa to purchase, if they met the museum’s needs. The equity stake will ensure that Te Papa benefits from successful innovations, whether or not they ended up being used on the museum’s floors. It will also contribute to the sustainability of Mahuki. 

Half of Te Papa’s funding comes from government, and half from commercial revenue.

Te Papa will invest around $1 million to establish Mahuki, including housing the facility within Te Papa’s office space, supporting the 40 entrepreneurs while they work, and helping them access international networks when their innovations are market-ready. 

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