Ten companies selected for Vodafone’s business accelerator

Winners of incubator programme include Internet of Things start-ups and drone developers.

Vodafone has revealed the 10 early-stage technology companies that will go through its business accelerator programme, Vodafone Xone.

The companies will go through a six-month business mentoring programme, with each package worth $150,000, including $25,000 in seed funding. It is the seventh of its kind that Vodafone has opened around the world.

New Zealand’s second-largest telco says it will enable participants to develop their products or ideas and as they get closer to production Vodafone will help commercialise them, by providing, for example, patenting and marketing expertise.

Vodafone says it could have chosen to seek an equity stake up front but decided against doing so.

“Looking forward, Vodafone would consider an equity stake in the start-ups if that's something each party was keen to do,” a spokeswoman says.

Callaghan Innovation has committed $900,000 over three years to xone.

The ten

(Descriptions supplied by Vodafone)

Wireless Guard: University of Canterbury graduates, making homes safer and setting minds at ease by transforming existing doors and windows into smart, connected, secure devices (Internet of Things).

Haptly: Auckland-based drone technology developer, improving pasture-based farming through real-time autonomous drone tracking and management for beyond line of sight applications.

Blerter: Auckland-based developer of health and safety apps that help companies keep their workers safe. Blerter makes health and safety processes easy, engaging and fun – helping to ensure everyone goes home safe each night.

Spalk: Auckland university graduates unlocking alternative sports commentary for teams and broadcasters by synchronising live game video with commentators around the globe.

Solarbright: Christchurch-based innovator in LED-lighting. Developer of a solar-powered road cat’s eye, contributing to road safety and capable of communicating big data.

IoTStream: Early-stage Auckland start-up. Making the Internet-of-Things accessible through a network, data and storage platform that makes product development easier and faster.

Parking Sense: Cambridge-based growth stage start-up, offering an off-street park management system connecting car parks around the world. Provides dynamic pricing and guidance to car parks.

Linewize: Christchurch-based developer of a cloud managed content filtering system, giving schools and parents at home complete control and visibility over internet use.

Catch.it: This Kiwi company, now based in Singapore, allows viewers to easily share via social media snackable, streamed moments as they happen. Founded by former NZ soccer player Rebecca Sowden.

LINC-ED: Christchurch former school principal and teacher, turned web/app developers. LINC-ED promotes the sharing of learning and creativity in a simple format that helps parents to understand their children's next steps.

Vodafone says the 10 start-ups were hand-picked by a panel of expert judges from more than 170 applicants from around New Zealand.

Vodafone consumer director Matt Williams would not detail the telco’s monetary commitment other than to say it was “substantial.”

Mr Williams, who is also the programme’s advisory board chairman, says Vodafone’s global scale will be the key differentiator from other business incubation programmes and it’s looking for businesses specialising in a variety of areas such as the internet of things (machine to machine communication), big data, mobile, agriculture and smart homes.

One of the key benefits for the telco is that it can select potential acquisitions, he says.

Garden City a big focus for xone
Businesses have the option to move to Christchurch where Vodafone will make room for xone in its new purpose-built headquarters, based in the Innovation Precinct. An average of three people per startup can operate inside the xone premises.

Companies outside of Christchurch can be chosen but they will have to be mentored remotely. Mr Williams says the Garden City’s businesses are a “big focus” for xone.

The businesses do not have to be Vodafone customers but they will be “strongly encouraged” to switch, Mr Williams says.

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