With the Government’s 5G spectrum allocation announced and businesses now operating in a changed world, Spark has reshaped and relaunched its 5G Starter Fund with an added focus on transforming health and wellness for all New Zealanders.
The Fund has been increased and will provide a pool of $625,000 for up to four Kiwi businesses to develop 5G applications that can help to support New Zealand’s economic recovery.
Spark Marketing Director Matt Bain believes there is an opportunity now to turbo charge connectivity in New Zealand at a time when it is more important than ever before.
“We know that technology and digital innovation will play a critical role in supporting our economic recovery as a country, particularly advancements such as 5G that will significantly improve connectivity and productivity. With access to spectrum we can now start to roll out 5G across the country, which opens up a new world of possibilities. We want to work alongside our most innovative thinkers to identify the future 5G use cases that will have the biggest impact for New Zealand as we start to rebuild after Covid-19,” Bain said.
“The opportunities in the health sector are particularly compelling so we have decided to expand the focus areas of the Fund to encompass next-generation health solutions. We see a real opportunity to transform how New Zealanders live healthier lives through 5G innovation.
“5G-enabled health technology will help create a step change in the health system and support clinicians to do what they do best – care for and treat New Zealanders. We see a future where our health system is digitally transformed to support things like remote patient diagnosis, care, monitoring and surgery, gamification in health, wearables such as smart pacemakers, health and wellbeing apps, and augmented reality or virtual reality for health student education.”
Andrew Hamilton, Co-Founder of Manaaki.io, a platform that helps support local businesses trying to navigate Covid-19 by linking them up to experts, said that despite the pandemic there remain opportunities in the market for businesses who are looking to innovate and grow.
“One of the big areas of potential innovation for Kiwi innovators will come from 5G. It gives immense opportunities for speed, access and ultimately innovating. It is great to see Spark recognising the opportunity to support Kiwi businesses to innovate through the economic recovery. I am really looking forward to seeing the Kiwi companies taking up the opportunity.”
Spark originally launched the 5G Starter Fund in March, but then put it on hold as a result of Covid-19. In recent weeks the Company has started receiving requests for the Fund to kick off again.
“There are so many talented innovators in our country, many of whom have found themselves with more time on their hands as a result of our Alert Levels, or looking for new opportunities and ways to innovate in response to the new challenges Covid-19 brings,” Bain said.
The 5G Starter Fund continues Spark’s longer-term support of local innovators who are keen to explore the benefits of 5G.
Spark has worked with local innovators through its Co-Lab space since July 2019, with hundreds of hours invested in co-creating future 5G use cases that will transform the way New Zealanders live and work. Businesses in Spark’s 5G Lab have tested and refined driverless car technology, worked on future payment solutions using facial recognition, and tested an ‘eye in the sky’ security solution using drone technology. Spark also helped Emirates Team New Zealand get 5G on the water.
The 5G Starter Fund will support up to four businesses, with the 1st prize winner receiving $250,000 and three 2nd prize winners receiving $125,000 each. All winners will receive business and tech mentoring from industry leaders, as well as access to technology and equipment to test and build on Spark’s 5G network. Applications for the 5G Starter Fund open on 27 May.