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  • Writer's pictureKelly Alica Liman

Top 18 Startup Accelerators & Incubators in New Zealand

As a small island country with a population of only 5 million people, New Zealand's startup ecosystem has been previously overlooked. It was historically difficult for the country to stand a chance against the larger markets within the region, but recent initiatives by the government have energized the local startup community. Access to early-stage funding has increased, and record growth in the number of deals and capital invested proves the emergence of a flourishing ecosystem.

It is now that the opportunity to go big and win in the market presents itself in New Zealand. If you're thinking of starting up your company, you might find yourself considering an incubator or accelerator to help you get started or take off in the market. To help you out, we have compiled a comprehensive list of New Zealand's startup incubators and accelerators in this article. They have been subdivided into applicability for startups in their 'ideation', 'launch', or 'growth' stages, so you'll find a program that suits you best!


➡️ Click on the link to download ​the FULL LIST of Accelerators & Incubators including over 800+ listings with contact links!



accelerators and incubators in New Zealand
accelerators and incubators in New Zealand

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WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A STARTUP INCUBATOR AND ACCELERATOR?


Though typically used interchangeably, a startup incubator and accelerator actually differ in multiple ways. To help you understand and choose the one for you, here's a brief outline of what they both entail.


A startup incubator functions as a space to nurture a business in its early stages, typically those that are still rounding out their ideas. In an incubator, you can work at your own pace. With no particular set time frame, incubatees can stay in the incubator for months to years. A coworking space is a typical offering of an incubator, where you can work alongside other young startups and bounce ideas off each other. Here, you'll gain access to mentors and join special seminars and workshops largely focused on the foundations of business-building. Incubators don't usually provide capital for the incubatees, so they do not take any equity in the business. Hence, startup incubators are most suitable for startups at the seed stage where they require guidance to refine and validate their business idea and model.


A startup accelerator, on the other hand, is designed to propel a startup's growth in a significantly shorter period of time. Usually lasting for only a few weeks, participants will go through intensive training and mentoring sessions to get them ready for commercialization. As such, they are usually directed at startups that have passed the ideation stage and ideally have proof-of-concept, minimum viable product, or early revenue. Aside from that, they also usually offer funding to support the startups' operations, and as such, they require equity in the business. Network to key strategic partners and investors is also a typical offering of an accelerator, usually connecting them to startups through a pitching event called 'Demo Day'. It is also much more competitive to enter an accelerator than incubators for that reason. Hence, startup accelerators are most suitable for startups that are in the early to growth stages, those that have demonstrated a strong market demand, some customer traction, and recurring revenue. This is the stage where preparing and getting access to funding is most crucial and exactly the value that accelerators bring to the table.


Now that you're aware of the difference, it is important to understand your startup and know what stage it is currently in before applying to any program. Different programs may offer different values and have different requirements, so it is important to do your research. Below is a brief outline of the accelerators and incubators available in New Zealand to get you started.





FULL LIST OF STARTUP INCUBATORS AND ACCELERATORS IN NEW ZEALAND


Ideation Stage Startup Incubators in New Zealand


The complete list of startup incubators in New Zealand:




  • Who is it for: Early startup with a team

  • Need to have an idea: Yes

  • Focus: Sector Agnostic

  • Duration: 6 months


Creative HQ is the space where innovation happens. Their 6-month incubator program is perfect for startups at the pre-seed or ideation stage and is thinking of taking their next steps. Upon entry to the program, you'll receive $5,000 of equity-free funding for your initial operations such as for idea validation purposes. Furthermore, at the end of month 3, you'll get a chance to pitch at their Investor Showcase and potentially secure bridge funding of around $10,000 to $50,000 to further support your growth.


The program operates in a hybrid manner, where you can work from their headquarters or join virtually wherever you are. Though, their requirements are for founders to be based in Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Wellington and the surrounding region. Some alumni of the program are AoteaCamN, Chillsy, Flow Deck, and Update Cove.




  • Who is it for: Aspiring entrepreneurs with an idea and seeking cofounder

  • Need to have an idea: Yes

  • Focus: Sector Agnostic

  • Duration: -

Whilst not an incubator per se, COIN South operates similarly to an incubator. They support founders through a tailored approach, where you can have a chat with their team to get your individual feedback and plan for your business. You can also learn everything you need to know to turn your idea into an actual company - from planning to selling your products or services. You'll learn about the stakeholders in your company, such as how to make meaningful connections with your customers or how to raise your team's capabilities. Finally, you can get matched funding of up to $5000 with their Industrial Innovation Fund as well as access to angel investors from around New Zealand. It is the complete package to build your startup from the ground up.





  • Who is it for: Aspiring entrepreneurs with an idea and seeking cofounder

  • Need to have an idea: Yes

  • Focus: Sector Agnostic

  • Duration: -


From garage to global, eCentre will be the one to help pave your way. For students or employees of Massey University who have an idea for a business or social enterprise, you can take the chance to join the programs that eCentre offers. Though not an incubator per se, they have programs that can help you fine-tune your ideas or ventures and connect you with relevant mentors, investors, and resources. They also conduct competitions where you can get some seed funding to actually turn your idea into a real product. It is a great place for you to gain valuable hands-on experience and knowledge to get you started.




  • Who is it for: Aspiring entrepreneurs with an idea and seeking cofounder

  • Need to have an idea: Yes

  • Focus: Sector Agnostic

  • Duration: 10 weeks


Held by the Auckland University of Technology, one of the top public universities in New Zealand, the Co.Starters Business Development Programme will help you explore your ideas and solutions and turn them into a viable business. Throughout 10 weeks, you'll follow the Co.Starters Canvas model to map out and examine every part of your business - customers, solutions, problems, competitive advantage, revenue, distribution, costs, and more. As a result, you'll have a deeper understanding of your business idea and be able to implement it into a real, sustainable business. You'll be working alongside peers and mentors who will provide you feedback every step of the way. The program is not only open to students, alumni, or staff at AUT, but any aspiring entrepreneurs thinking of unleashing their ideas into the world.





  • Who is it for: Aspiring entrepreneurs with an idea and seeking cofounder

  • Need to have an idea: Yes

  • Focus: Sector Agnostic

  • Duration: -


Another program by Auckland University of Technology, the Te Kōrau Business Development Programme is another program that will help you to turn your ideas, talent, and passion into a real and lasting business. How it differs from Co.Starters is that they emphasize and observe the traditional values and customs in doing and operating Māori businesses. You'll learn insights into yourself, your customers, and your business woven with Māori worldviews and narratives. You'll work and learn alongside a whānau-like community of peers and mentors who will provide an awhi/tautoko (safe, embracing, supportive) environment.




  • Who is it for: Aspiring entrepreneurs with an idea and seeking cofounder, Early startup with a team

  • Need to have an idea: Yes

  • Focus: Energy

  • Duration: 10 weeks



Startup Queenstown Lakes is a charitable trust that acts as a platform for founders, investors, and citizens to connect and form a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem. They run various programs for startups at every stage, from those who are just starting out to those who are ready to scale. In particular, they have two programs for startup beginners: Kick Start and Lift Off.


At the Kick Start program, you'll learn how to turn your idea into a full-fledged business plan. You'll plan out the building blocks of your business, such as your business model, customers, value propositions, and revenue streams. Meanwhile, the Lift Off program is designed for graduates of the Kick Start program who already have completed the Lean Business Canvas and are ready to launch. Graduates of the Lift Off program may also stand a chance of getting into their invitation-only Giants program, an advanced incubator program designed to assist startups in scaling nationally or globally.





Launch Stage Startup Incubators and Accelerators in New Zealand


The complete list of launch phase incubators and startup accelerators in New Zealand:





  • Who is it for: Early startup with a team

  • Need to have an idea: Yes

  • Focus: Energy

  • Duration: 10 weeks


If you are passionate about clean energy and want to help the country move towards a carbon-neutral future, then this program is for you. It is open to anyone working on an innovation related to the energy sector, be it a student, researcher, startup, or established company. The program will guide you through market analysis, validation, and strategy to prepare your solution for commercialization.


Supported by Ara Ake, Aotearoa New Zealand’s future energy center, you'll have the opportunity to network with the most important players in the industry and experts in the field. Most importantly, you'll learn all of this within the cultural values of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, making sure that you operate and grow your business through sustainable means.




  • Who is it for: Early startup with a team

  • Need to have an idea: Yes

  • Focus: Health

  • Duration: -


New Zealand Health Innovation Hub is the instrument that will take your healthcare innovations to the public health system for the benefit of New Zealanders. They collaborate with innovators to evaluate and validate an innovation's potential in serving the healthcare needs in the country.


Should your idea be viable, they will help you develop it into a prototype that can go into production and commercialization. This involves sorting out the important details for your business, such as intellectual property, clinical trials, health impact assessment, manufacturing, licensing, financing, and more. Finally, they'll connect you with relevant people who can help you maximize the potential of your innovation, improve health outcomes, and reduce the cost of healthcare. They have been the ones that helped introduce solutions such as new Hepatitis B tests, electronic medical records systems, and vital signs simulation systems into the public health system in New Zealand.





  • Who is it for: Early startup with a team

  • Need to have an idea: Yes

  • Focus: Sector Agnostic

  • Duration: 3-6 months


Startup Dunedin is an initiative of the Grow Dunedin Partnership by the Dunedin City Council, the University of Otago, and Otago Polytechnic. They have different programs aimed at students and startup founders who are still planning their businesses or are already in operation. For founders who are looking to launch or grow, The Distiller Incubator is the program of choice to help you take your next steps.


You'll receive regular mentoring and coaching sessions from their team, as well as peer-to-peer learning sessions from other founders. You can choose to work from their space at the Distiller and choose how long you'd like to stay in the incubator, it is completely flexible depending on the goals you need to work on. Best of all, the program is completely free and takes no equity.




  • Who is it for: Early startup with a team

  • Need to have an idea: Yes

  • Focus: Sector Agnostic

  • Duration: 12-18 months


Though not an accelerator per se, Dovetail operates a Venture Studio where they partner up with founders to construct your ideas into high-growth companies together. Within 12 to 18 months, you'll go through all the processes to build your startup from the ground up. Starting off from a deep dive, a team of seasoned entrepreneurs will assess the strength and validity of your ideas. If they see its potential, you'll move to the product discovery phase and work with expert product designers and engineers to craft your MVP. You'll then prepare for commercialization with a solid product and go-to-market strategy.


Once you've launched, you'll continue to develop your product to reach product-market fit, guided by an experienced product team. You'll also continuously receive advisory services around capital raising, team building, financial forecasting, investor introductions, and more to set you up on the right path. Finally, once your startup has successfully lifted off, you can opt to have one of their 'Doves' transition into your company full-time. Nevertheless, they'll continue providing support and stay connected to your company as directors or board observers.





  • Who is it for: Early startup with a team

  • Need to have an idea: Yes

  • Focus: Sector Agnostic, Female-specific

  • Duration: 3 months


Believing in tenacity, vision, and resilience to make anything possible, Soda Inc is a business growth ecosystem that provides customized support programs for entrepreneurs in New Zealand. Championing female entrepreneurship, their RISE UP program is an accelerator and seed grant for women entrepreneurs starting their own businesses. They will select 5 to 10 female founders to take part in a series of workshops to create a clear roadmap and support their business growth. The program ends in a pitch night at which the winner will receive $10,000 cash to use on their businesses.


Nonetheless, if you're not a female founder, you can still access many of their other programs and resources. For instance, their Business Growth Advisors can provide you with the advice, information, and connections you need to propel your business.



  • Who is it for: Early startup with a team

  • Need to have an idea: Yes

  • Focus: STEM, Product, Design, Manufacturing, Technology

  • Duration: 6 months

The Settlement is a network of modern shared workspaces where you can work, meet, and grow with a vibrant community of like-minded people. Beyond coworking, they also manage an incubation program for startups in the product, design, manufacturing, or technology sector.


Aside from getting a 6-month membership at their space, you'll receive access to specialist workshops and 1:1 advisory and mentoring from mentors and experts and work. They'll be the ones to guide you in your startup development and keep you accountable for progress. They'll also help you make the connections you need for your startup. Furthermore, another important activity you'll partake in is the peer-to-peer knowledge and feedback sessions, where you can learn and get inspired by other brilliant startup founders in the community.





  • Who is it for: Early startup with a team

  • Need to have an idea: Yes

  • Focus: Sustainability, AI & Machine Learning, Semiconductors, Life Sciences, BioTech

  • Duration: -


In Bridgewest Ventures, they believe that no idea is too big, and they're committed to helping you bring your idea to the world. As an approved partner of Callaghan Innovation's Technology Incubator Programme, they are looking for impactful ventures to commercialize and introduce to the global market. In particular, they are interested in innovation with a profound social, economic, and environmental impact; usually in the form of disruptive and life-changing technologies.


If you're accepted into the program, you'll go through a series of activities to develop your idea into a proof of concept, complete your market research, apply for a license and IP for your technology, and build a detailed commercialization model to launch your business. At the same time, you'll work with mentors to improve your business capabilities and get you ready for a global launch. To fund your startup, you'll be eligible to apply for up to $750,000 in funding as a repayable grant from Callaghan Innovation and direct equity investment from Bridgewest Ventures.




  • Who is it for: Early startup with a team

  • Need to have an idea: Yes

  • Focus: Technology

  • Duration: 9 months


The Founder Catalyst incubation program is designed to equip you with the skills and knowledge to succeed as a startup. You'll learn the foundation of startup-building, such as finding product-market fit, crafting a revenue model, go-to-market strategy, and other key elements. Other than focusing on your startup, the program also emphasizes you as a person and helps you develop the core competencies you need to lead your startup.


The program entails a structured framework for dissecting your startup. First off, they will use a Startup Strengths Matrix to assess your startup's strengths and weaknesses. Using the results, they'll match you with relevant experts in residence and craft a tailored Startup Development Roadmap to develop timelines, goals, and key milestones during your residency in the incubator. You can participate in the incubator on-site at Te Ōhaka or work through remote and hybrid options.





  • Who is it for: Early startup with a team

  • Need to have an idea: Yes

  • Focus: Technology

  • Duration: 3 months

The Kōkiri Accelerator is a program dedicated to growing and accelerating Māori-led enterprises. The program is targeted at early-stage impact-positive startups to prepare them for investments. Thus, you'll receive mentoring to set your startup up for a successful market entry, investment, and growth, as well as a $10,000 startup grant to fund your initial operations.


One of its kind, it is an accelerator that also puts an emphasis on founder wellbeing. The program provides a unique education program and specialized training to develop critical skills and capabilities of emerging Māori entrepreneurs. The program culminates in a Showcase Day, an event where you can pitch your venture to an investor panel and your whānau.





Growth Stage Accelerators in New Zealand


The complete list of growth stage accelerators in New Zealand:





  • Who is it for: Early startup with a team

  • Need to have an idea: Yes

  • Focus: Sector Agnostic

  • Duration: 3 months


Startmate is one of the highly-trusted and active startup communities, supported by angel investors, venture capitalists, and tech startups in Australia and New Zealand. They run a mentor-driven accelerator program, whereby you'll participate in plenty of 1:1 mentoring sessions as well as structured training lessons. These sessions will direct your focus to your most important goals and ensure you progress forward with your startup. What sets them apart is that, unlike other accelerators, the $120,000 capital that they invest in your startup comes directly from their mentors. As such, you know that your mentors do care and will give you the best advice as they have an actual stake in your company's success.




  • Who is it for: Mature startup with a team

  • Need to have an idea: Yes

  • Focus: Rolling Sectors

  • Duration: 3 months

If you're ready to take your startup to the global market, then Creative HQ Accelerator is the best place to go. An intensive accelerator program, it is specifically designed for startups that have launched and are currently at their growth stage. You'll receive equity-free funding, mentorship, tools, resources, and access to their network to prepare your startup for international expansion.


The program is open to Kiwi startups based anywhere in Aotearoa, New Zealand, but you're free to work from their base in Wellington or to join virtually. They focus on specific sectors that are important to Aotearoa, so the theme may change every year. So if your startup doesn't fit this year's sector theme, you can check in periodically to see if an opportunity comes up.




  • Who is it for: Early startup with a team

  • Need to have an idea: Yes

  • Focus: AgTech, FoodTech

  • Duration: -


Sprout Agritech Accelerator is a fast-paced, educational accelerator that will make your product or service a winning business in the eyes of customers and investors. You'll go through a series of workshops and mentoring with business advisors that are knowledgeable in the AgTech and FoodTech fields. They'll make sure you stay on top of milestones, craft the strongest value propositions, and maximize your company's valuation.


The program is not for the fainthearted - it is an intensive program that demands you to be adaptable and quick in taking up challenges. It is suitable for those who already know what they're doing, i.e. those who already have a prototype, proof-of-concept, or are in the early stages of growth with revenue of less than $1 million. Any international company can apply to this accelerator as they don't require you to relocate your business, but your company must have an offering for the New Zealand market to be considered.




Closing Thoughts on Joining a Startup Accelerator or Incubator in New Zealand


With a track record of building global exits like Xero, Aroa Biosurgery, and Rocket Lab, New Zealand has just started to gain the attention of foreign investors. It is proof that New Zealand startups can make it on the international scene, and so can you. If you're still unsure of your startup and your capability to take it to the next level, then an incubator or accelerator may help pave the way for you. They offer a strong sense of community and value-driven support, making sure you're not only growing your venture but also your capabilities as a founder and a leader. In the process, you might find yourself surrounded by a whānau-like community of supportive peers and inspirational mentors.





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