Reason 1: 4500 hit 40+ events, with 90% of people surveyed said they felt it offered a fresh perspective around innovation.

From 27 August to 2 September, Tauranga came alive with a range of events, showcasing how our people and organisations are leading the way through innovation. The success of this year’s event was reflected in the survey results as well as some of the magic moments from our attendees:

“My favourite moment? Hearing Tesla speak at Race to the Future, then taking an e-bike for a spin. Completely not what I was expecting – it was different, better.”

“Little Inventors was a special event – I loved getting the next generation experiencing hands-on, fun innovation – great stuff”.

“I loved seeing the laneway come to life – sitting down there during the movie night with the projections lighting up the wall was awesome.”

Race to the Future Event

Audience hear from Tesla, Vector, Powersmart and get to ride E-bikes, Tesla Roadsters and BWMs at the Race to the Future Event

Reason 2: The PM made her first official visit to the region for the festival

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern headed to Baycourt for the one-day Ko Maui Hangarau session, where two hundred and fifty students were coming from all over the North Island to hear about the latest in Māori technology and innovation. The aim of the event which featured feature a host of top Māori technologists, innovators and entrepreneurs – was to inspire rangatahi (youth) to feel that the ability to innovate. Following this, she made an opening address at the New Zealand Avocado International Industry Conference at ASB Baypark in the afternoon.

New Zealand Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern presents audience

New Zealand Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern  addresses 250 Maori youth

Reason 3: We learned about the latest innovations from global giants like Tesla, Air NZ, Zuru and Microsoft to local heroes Ubco and Good Buzz.

Electric bikes, sustainable textiles, robotics, horticulture technology, and how to power an island. We engaged with international leaders and experts from Tesla, Google, IBM, ANZ, Air New Zealand and more. From arts and culture, to science and technology, there was something for everyone.

Ubco bikes at Groundswell Festival of Innovation

Ubco bikes at Groundswell Festival of Innovation

Reason 4: 18 ‘ultimate toys’ were created by 30+ Little Inventors.

The Little Inventors workshop was designed to engage young kids in all the fun that comes with problem solving and creativity. Run by Woolkin in partnership with Tauranga’s coolest new location, container warehouse Our Place, we challenged 30 kids aged from 3-10 years to build the ultimate toy. 5 metres of wood, 29 pieces of felt, 35 sheets of paper, 6 hammers, 1 hot glue gun, 56 pompoms, 0 injuries later, the results were awesome and the kids left feeling inspired to innovate.

Group of kids brainstorm their perfect toy at Little Inventors Workshop

Little Inventors brainstorm their perfect toy

Reason 5: 100 business leaders came together for the RHUBARB Innovation Summit to explore transformational technologies

The inaugural RHUBARB Innovation summit saw 100 key businesses people come together to look at the role of ‘Transformational Technologies’.  Subjects ranged from customer experience to supply chain management,  circular economy to security. We asked some of our speakers to share their thoughts on how to capitalise on the latest technologies in the video below.

Reason 6: 10 Maori entrepreneurs inspired 250 rangatahi about a future in digital technology

This event was designed to capture the hearts and minds of rangatahi (16 – 24 years) focused on digital innovation, technology and entrepreneurship. Rangatahi heard the journey, experience and challenges of 10 of the best Maori Tech Innovators and Entrepreneurs in the world. The video below captures a sense of the day, which inspired children from all over the North Island to explore a career in innovation.

Students from all over the Bay learn about the latest digital technologies

Jacinda Adern poses with students from all over New Zealand who attended Koh Maui Haungarau to learn about the latest digital technologies

Reason 7: A CBD laneway was transformed to include public art, food trucks, street installations, live music, fuelled by top local architects and landscape designers.

This three day installation saw the CBD laneway on Grey Street next to Paper Plus transformed into a public space, following a Bay-wide competition with architects to come up with ways to utilise the space creatively. Beca Tauranga and RM Architecture were the winners of the Tauranga laneway design competition which was organised by the New Zealand Institute of Architects Waikato/Bay of Plenty Branch and Tauranga Groundswell Festival of Innovation. Creative Bay Of Plenty facilitated the connection and coordination of the architects and local creatives with the aim of bringing the laneway alive. There were art installations, music, a community art wall and street performers. The event showed what was possible in our city – you never know, one day, the whole network of CBD laneways might follow suit.

Artist paints mural at Groundswell Festival of Innovation

Artist paints mural at Groundswell Festival of Innovation

Reason 8: 60 YiA finalists experienced the highest mountains and shark dived through Google’s Expedition

Field trips to virtually anywhere was the name of the game when Head of Education for Google, Suan Yeo shared their virtual reality technology with 60 Young Innovator Awards finalists. First the students were taken to Yosemite National Park, where they got to climb El Capitan. Next it was a trip to the bottom of the ocean to dive with sharks, followed by a light show at the Aurora Borealis. Suan Yeo said “The kids were just wonderful – so engaged and animated. It was such a great time.” Check out the video below to see the workshop in action.

YiA Students take part in Google Expedition Workshop

YiA Students take part in Google Expedition Workshop

Reason 9: Young Innovator Awards saw a record 550 new innovations, 79 finalists, 6 winners. 


Young Innovator Awards Junior Winners show off their prizes

Young Innovator Awards Junior Winners: Freda Prak and Jess Nicholson for Compostabottle

Reason 10: Over 150 international delegates attended the festival, from China to the UK, judged by top business people including Entrepreneur of the Year Nick Mowbray

48 university students, 12 international business schools, 3 real business cases, 6 days. What does that add up to? The inaugural Global Innovation and Entrepreneurship Challenge (GIEC), held for the first time in Tauranga, the GIEC challenged students to race the clock and each other to showcase their business skills and impress a panel of judges. Three real business cases from Zuru, UBCO and Good Buzz asked them to work under pressure to conceive and present strategies and solutions in conditions that mimic consulting-type pressures.

Judges at International Case Competition

International Case Competition judges: From right to left – x, Kirstin Mead, Nick Mowbray, Nigel Tutt