Te Papa innovation hub reaches for the stars

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20 April 2016

On Wednesday 20 April, Te Papa will launch its innovation hub, Mahuki - innovation powered by Te Papa.

Mahuki will offer New Zealand entrepreneurs a residential programme where they can develop the next generation of experiences for the culture, heritage and learning sectors.

It is supported by a founding partnership with Vodafone New Zealand, which is investing $150,000 to help establish Mahuki.

"The kinds of innovations we are looking for will enable New Zealanders to access their national collections in new ways, and activate new kinds of storytelling,” says Te Papa Chief Executive Rick Ellis.

 “Mahuki will create incredible new experiences to touch the hearts and minds of New Zealanders.”

“When we see old soldiers in their 80s poring over a 3-D digital map of Gallipoli with tears in their eyes – that’s the kind of impact we are looking for.”

Mahuki innovators will work with Te Papa's experts and collections, and have the chance to market-test their ideas with Te Papa's millions of visitors. They will work on real-world problems, informed by Te Papa's experience as a global leader in cultural experiences.

Successful innovations may be taken up by Te Papa and the New Zealand cultural sector, and exported globally.

Vodafone Head of Enterprise Business Andrew Fairgray says the company is delighted to support Mahuki.

“Vodafone is passionate about innovation, and we believe in opening up new opportunities to kiwis through technology. We’re excited to see what ideas will come out of Mahuki, creating new digital pathways for New Zealanders to access their national collections.”

The first intake of around 40 residents will enter Mahuki in August 2016, and spend a four month intensive residency developing their innovations. Applications are open from 20 April to 9 June 2016.

Te Papa Chief Executive Rick Ellis says the innovation hub model enables Te Papa to tap in to the creativity of l New Zealand companies.

"In the next four years our renewal programme will see us make the most dramatic changes to the museum since opening,” says Mr Ellis

"Te Papa has always been a creative powerhouse, and working with these exciting companies will bring new ideas into the mix."

"We have done our homework and we know there is a need to support innovations for the cultural sector, both globally and locally.”

"Mahuki is a place where New Zealanders can develop the 'next big thing' for the New Zealand cultural sector, and export it to the world."

An example of a recent culture sector innovation is the Cooper Hewitt pen. This elegant digital device enables visitors to the Cooper Hewitt museum in Washington to "collect" artworks during their visit, which they can later research more deeply and share with friends on social media, effectively "curating" their own collection from the museum.

Mr Ellis said the business model for taking innovations to market would depend on the individual circumstances, but Te Papa would take a 6% equity stake in companies coming in to Mahuki. Residents would receive $20,000 per company while they work in the hub.

Innovations developed in Mahuki will be available for Te Papa to purchase, if they met the museum’s needs. The equity stake will ensure that Te Papa benefits from successful innovations, whether or not they ended up being used on the museum’s floors. It will also contribute to the sustainability of Mahuki. 

Mr Ellis says half of Te Papa’s funding comes from government, and half from commercial revenue.

“We have a lot of commercial savvy within Te Papa, and we are confident that the arrangements we enter into will make sense for both sides, and deliver for New Zealanders, for Te Papa, and for the creative kiwi companies who come on board.”

Te Papa will invest around $1 million to establish Mahuki, including housing the facility within Te Papa’s office space, supporting the 40 entrepreneurs while they work, and helping them access international networks when their innovations are market-ready.

Mahuki can be translated as "perceptive" and relates to ideas that spring to the mind, and to the wellspring of inspiration.

Media are welcome to attend the launch, 6pm Wednesday 20 April at Te Papa, but must register by calling Kate Camp.

Media contact
Kate Camp, Te Papa communications manager, 029 601 0180