Top 5 finalists advance in Innovate Whanganui 2022

After a tense first pitch night, Innovate has its Top 5 finalists.

Last week, an impressive group of entrepreneurs and innovators stood in front of a room of business people, community leaders, professionals and creatives, hoping to gain access into the rigorous Innovate programme.

Now in its second year, Innovate has quickly embedded itself into the fabric of the Whanganui entrepreneurial ecosystem. What started out in the Manawatū as a “Dragons’ Den” competition in 2011, has spread across four regions and transformed into a process that not only builds business, but more importantly, builds people.

“Innovate is helping to shape business and people in our region,” explains Tim Easton, Strategic Lead – Business with economic development agency Whanganui & Partners.  “It’s fantastic that business leaders, thought provokers, Innovate alumni and others understand the power of foundational entrepreneurship and put their hand up to help through mentoring and advice.”

The programme for the finalists begins Wednesday night where they will be guided through a structured process that not only will help them validate and build their business, but also connect them into a mentor pool of talent that spans New Zealand and the globe.

“Innovate’s proven model sets out to find those that are stuck or have a novel idea and need a bit of guidance to push forward. We were delighted at the quality of applications received and it was tough to select the top five.” says Nick Gain, Acting CEO of The Factory.

Whanganui & Partners is delivering Innovate in partnership with The Factory, a Palmerston North collective made up of experts at getting ideas off the ground, launching start-ups, and helping businesses grow. The Innovate Whanganui programme is part of a wider innovation-building ecosystem taking place in the Whanganui region that supports an entrepreneur from ideation to scale and investment.

The Process

Over the next ten weeks, the five finalists will meet each week at The Backhouse in Whanganui and dive into building their idea into a validated business.  Each finalist will have tailored support and be paired with mentors, as well as have access to the full mentor pool The Factory has built over the past 12 years, which includes national and international presence. They will also receive $3000 in capital tagged to specific milestones determined by their mentors.

Using lean methodologies, finalists will learn about intellectual property and protection, cash flow and budgeting, validation but most importantly, what it’s like to be an entrepreneur.  This all cumulates into a pitch night happening on the 25th of August in Whanganui, where each will have an opportunity to present their validated idea to local business leaders, angel investors and others that support entrepreneurialism in the region.

The Innovate Whanganui 2022 winner will receive $5,000 in start-up cash to support their idea.


Abbi and Rodney Calman – Mobile Wheel Chock

Abbi and Rodney have created mobile wheel chocks, so instead of crouching down under a large vehicle to chock the wheels, you put a chock for either side of the tyre, onto wheels to make them mobile and have attached a handle to avoid having to bend down behind the vehicle you are securing.

 Alan Smith – Ouchie Powder

The “Original Ouchie Powder” is a powder with therapeutic properties that can be applied to wounds and treatment sites for both human and veterinary use.

Julia Lee Hanson – Pet Memorial Jewellery

Pet memorial jewellery that allows pet owners to keep a part of their beloved animals with them after they pass away.

Laura Buchanan – Pottery Popup

Laura will travel to your home, work or venue and provide a clay experience. The services offered are catered to the customers’ requirements, such as a birthday party, hens’ night, club, team building or retirement home activity.  Demonstrations of techniques such as slab building, coiling, slip casting and pinch pots are offered.


Stacy Foskett – Ready Bear

Ready Bears are emergency grab bags for children. The bags are designed to be accessible in an emergency situation and provide age appropriate supplies to help children get through the first few hours post disaster.

  • Log in
  • Register

Forgot Password

Register to gain access to the Discover Whanganui resource hub.