Spark Prizegiving

378 entries, 500+ individuals across all faculties and from undergraduates to professors. That was the scale of this years Spark Ideas Challenge – huge and unprecedented. The prizegiving, 21st May, attracted a strong crowd comprising of New Zealand’s emerging entrepreneurs there to collect their share of over $20,000 in cold hard cash on offer. Taking part in the judging/ organisation side of the competition this year I was able to sit back and view the proceedings from somewhat of a different angle.

Other than the pure number of entries I also noticed that there was switch from predominantly web/IT based entries to quite a few more high technology based ( manufacturing/ engineering, bio) entries to even it out. Furthermore some of the skill sets and diversity within the teams was amazing. People had actually gone about seeking additional team members that complement their own skills – this is great to see. The Idea’s Challenge winners can be found on the Spark website

The next stage of the competition is a few workshops/ clinics for selected entrants to build on their ideas and to help transform these into Venture Summaries. Following this the top 10 – 12 entries will be selected to go through an intensive mentoring process to convert these into businesses.


The winner of the Chiasma I-volve Biotechnology Prize – CERPIS

Public Summary:

CERPIS has developed a method for cell reprogramming in the body that overcomes the ethical and biological risks of existing procedures. We have reprogrammed adult human cells into nerves, identifying the specific molecules that trigger this process. Our immediate goal is treatment of the cornea of the eye for a disease that increases risk of trauma, the inability to form tears, dry eye and eye inflammation.

Team: Dasha Nelidova, Ally Chang, Jane McGhee, Assc. Prof Trevor Sherwin, Prof. Colin Green (CODA Therapeutics)


Lucky I arrived late. Thanks Angus


Graeme @


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