With only a few days left until Lightning Lab GovTech kicks off, we’ve met up with Programme Director, Jonnie Haddon, to get the lowdown on everything you need to know about the programme.


How did Lightning Lab GovTech come about and what was the inspiration behind it?

Lightning Lab GovTech represents the perfect match between the role and influence of the government and the agility of startups. In this way, the programme pulls from the ambition and collaborations already present within government while channelling the audacity of innovation and startup methodologies. In 2015 Creative HQ teamed up with MBIE to run one of the world’s first GovTech programmes through the R9 Accelerator. This programme lasted three years before MBIE decided that this initiative would be better lead from outside of one Government agency. This experience inspired us to set up the Lightning Lab GovTech Accelerator.


What is the idea behind this year’s programme?

Through the three earlier R9 Accelerators we have better understood what works and what doesn’t. We’ve now shifted the focus to be on the partnership between Government and startups. The objective is not to create new private startups at the end of the programme, but to create a platform to bring the government agencies’ most pressing challenges to the table, where the private sector can team up to solve them.


In your opinion, what’s the key to a successful outcome?

Three things that produce a solid outcome are:

  1. The right mix. Creating the right dynamic within the team is essential to work together effectively and efficiently.
  2. The willingness to adapt. It’s important to be open, to accept external feedback and to be ready to reinvent the wheel to deliver on the challenges outlined.
  3. Collaboration. The model of the accelerator is very strong. If teams and government agencies can work in tandem within the innovation frameworks that CHQ provides, then it all comes together.


How does LL GovTech engages and motivates people?

New Zealanders are extremely lucky because we are keen to solve problems while punching way above our economic weight. We innovate in every sector from medicine, with the Dunedin Study, to rocketry, with Rocket Labs and the Martin Jetpack, and when we do the world takes notice. However, problems within the public sector and government can seem to be buried behind laws, agendas and bureaucracy.

The Lightning Lab GovTech Accelerator moves innovators through those assumptions and perceptions while enabling them to take practical steps to solve the problems that affect all Kiwis. When you do that, people engage.


What do you expect projects and teams will get out of this?

The projects will significantly move their initiative forward. The accelerator isn’t about making plans or focus groups. It’s about actually doing the do: testing and validating concepts in the real world.

The teams will get more done than they ever would have imagined possible and will be thrust into an environment where you can’t help but learn a lot. Immersing yourself in a 3-month long accelerator, it’s very different from a day-long or even week-long workshop. Expect a long-term impact on the way you work and approach things!


Want to keep hearing more about the Lightning Lab GovTech Accelerator? Stay up-to-date by signing up here.

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