The DIGMYIDEA Māori Innovation Challenge is now open, with the competition calling on budding Māori digital entrepreneurs to put their ideas forward. 

DIGMYIDEA – now in its third year – aims to inspire more Māori to engage in the digital economy by helping emerging Māori innovators turn their creative ideas into reality. 

Individuals, or teams of up to five people, can enter DIGMYIDEA, with $10,000 worth of business startup assistance going to the overall winning entries in the following two categories:  

  • Rerenga o te Kora: (15-24 year olds)  
  • Muranga o te Ahi:  (25 years and over) 

 DIGMYIDEA entries must be exciting, innovative, digital and entrepreneurial. They can be anything from an app to a web programme, or even a digital extension of a more traditional business. 

Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) General Manager Business, Innovation and Skills Pam Ford says DIGMYIDEA helps to find promising entrepreneurial talent which can be nurtured and developed. 

"The competition aims to stimulate the interest and involvement of Māori within New Zealand’s innovation ecosystem, which is a unique point of difference both at home and on the world stage, and an important part of building the technology sector," she says.

"Ideas should have the potential to create economic opportunities for Māori and other New Zealanders, as well as be considered for the export market," Pam Ford says.

DIGMYIDEA 2015 winner, Josh Arnold (Ngāpuhi) – who jointly won the 15 to 18 year age category – is now studying at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis). The university, close to Silicon Valley, is one of the world’s leading cross-disciplinary research and teaching institutions. 

While Josh’s idea ‘Hang’, an application which encourages people to socialise with friends in real life, wasn’t feasible to continue in the end, he says the whole experience took him on a valuable journey. 

"DIGMYIDEA was really my first introduction to the business world. It helped me create a vision for my future and this motivated me to work harder at school. This helped me go on to study at UC Davis where I’m finishing my first year studying computer science and biology," he says. 

"I have a particular interest in artificial intelligence (AI) and how this technology can be applied to make a real global difference. I’m soon to start the Silicon Valley Innovation Camp as part of Stanford University’s summer school where ideas are to focus around ‘having a positive impact on the world’. 

"I’m looking forward to pushing the boundaries with other students and designing ambitious new ideas that can make a real difference," Josh says. 

Matariki is the Māori name for the cluster of stars also known as the Pleiades. It rises in mid-winter and for many Māori, it heralds the start of a new year. The DIGIwānanga – a mentoring workshop where finalists will pitch their ideas in front of judges – will run from 6-8 July which is when Matariki can be seen just above the horizon before the sun comes up; a great connection between a new year and the birth of new ideas.  

A DIGMYIDEA Hack-A-Thon is also being held as part of Techweek’18. This one day event (Saturday, 19 May) is designed for Māori with digital business aspirations to come together and use technology to transform ideas into reality. Ideas as part of the Hack-A-Thon can also be submitted for the DIGMYIDEA Māori Innovation Challenge. 

DIGMYIDEA entries should be submitted through the website by Sunday, 27 May 2018.