29 Jun 2021

New Zealanders are set to benefit from a new partnership that will help government agencies devise innovative solutions to important issues, such as housing inequality, clean water and sanitation, as well as health and wellbeing.

The three-year sponsorship deal between Wellington-based innovation hub Creative HQ and the Westpac NZ Government Innovation Fund will allow Creative HQ to support teams of public sector innovators through the NZ GovTech Accelerator programme. This gives participants the confidence and leadership skills to tackle local, national and global problems.

Head of GovTech Jonnie Haddon says their mission is “to make the Wellington region and the country well known for having a trusted and inclusive public sector. 

“The accelerator is a 13-week government innovation programme that takes place annually in Wellington. The programme aims to solve root-cause problems, facilitate collaboration, and upskill participants – driving better outcomes for citizens,” Mr. Haddon says.

“We’ve seen New Zealand enhance its performance globally in this area, and we want to be seen as world leaders in the years ahead.

“You can spend your way out of recession, but you need to innovate your way out of a pandemic.

“The GovTech Accelerator programme is ideal for entrepreneurs, leaders and changemakers in government agencies looking to identify the problems that need solving and to use creativity and technology to solve them. We take projects and staff from government agencies and apply proven innovation methodology to create solutions that best meet the needs of citizens.”

Now in its fourth year, the GovTech team has worked on 30 projects, of which 19 are still active and 13 have received specific funding. Successful past projects range from trialling a new local currency in Cannons Creek in Porirua to help improve community wellbeing, to harnessing social media to allow Kiwi youth to communicate their ideas and desires directly with policymakers.

Westpac NZ Government Innovation Fund Director Simon Rogerson says the partnership with Creative HQ will ultimately help empower employers and Kiwi communities to improve their wellbeing, productivity and much more. 

“The Innovation Fund works with government agencies and other sectors not just to solve problems but to uncover opportunities, so partnering with Creative HQ feels like a perfect fit for both organisations,” Mr. Rogerson says.

“Creative HQ has already supported dozens of projects that have brought real benefits to everyday New Zealanders, and we’re delighted to stand alongside them as they help innovators take on the challenges of the future.

The GovTech programme has also been opened up internationally, with teams from Australia and the Philippines considering joining this year’s programme.

Government agency innovation teams can apply to be part of the GovTech accelerator programme 2021 by emailing chris.oneill@creativehq.co.nz

Click here to view launch video


Editor’s note – Past projects supported by Creative HQ

  • EARS: Improving outcomes for seabirds through automated reporting
    The albatross population is endangered due to by-catch mortality in international waters. The accelerator saved the Department of Conservation (DOC) and Fisheries NZ (part of MPI) two years of development and $360,000 on the request for proposal for a fishing vessel bycatch compliance monitoring system which will start to help us protect this beautiful breed.

  • Elevation Aotearoa
    The accelerator supported LINZ and regional partners to work in partnership to create the Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) platform that could enable $38m additional economic benefit to Aotearoa. The governance structures established mean they’re set up for success.

  • Wellbeing Protocol
    A project to empower communities using blockchain technology. They are currently working with the community of Cannons Creek in Porirua and local organisations to pilot their new model. The pilot involves community members using a mobile based app that enables them to trade in a new community currency, the Cannon Coin (CAN). In this pilot, community members will be able to:
    - Trade with each other
    - Purchase fruit and vegetables from a local fruit and vegetable co-op
    - Create and vote on wellbeing initiatives that can be supported by a community fund


About Creative HQ
Creative HQ, Wellington’s innovation hub, operates throughout New Zealand and internationally across the Asia-Pacific region with significant work experience in the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Japan, Hong Kong, India and Australia. They look to build confidence, capability and connectedness throughout their ecosystem while looking to inspire and support the growth of individuals and businesses through the use of design thinking methodologies. Their expertise has developed over a 18 year period of operating in this field. Creative HQ is owned by WellingtonNZ, a subsidiary of the Wellington City Council and the Greater Wellington Regional Council. More information can be found here.

About Westpac NZ Government Innovation Fund
The Innovation Fund is a joint initiative established in 2015. Funded by Westpac NZ and mutually governed by Westpac NZ and the New Zealand government, its aim is to drive innovation and change at a government level to solve real-world issues and help create solutions that are tangible, valuable, and inspiring for all New Zealanders. We listen to those who want to make a difference – government agencies, organisations, business or everyday New Zealanders who have identified a problem worth solving - and provide funding and expertise to explore, validate, or implement smart solutions. We help connect potential partners and customers in the government and private sector, bringing people together with shared problems or experiences. More information can be found here.