Our network

We are hugely grateful to those who share our belief that the cultivation of entrepreneurial talent is vital for the growth of New Zealand’s economy.

The network of people and organisations supporting The University of Auckland Business School Entrepreneurs’ Challenge, recognise that ideas don’t flourish into wealth-creating businesses in isolation.

And as such, they are committed to lending their unique talents, expertise and experiences to help foster an environment in which such ideas have the opportunity to flourish and grow.


Our partner organisations are working with the UABS Entrepreneurs’ Challenge to help New Zealand businesses of real promise to reach their potential.

The UABS is dedicated to fostering a spirit of enterprise, innovation and entrepreneurship among New Zealand start‐ups, SMEs, students and staff alike.

In addition to our normal research and teaching programmes, over the last seven years UABS has developed a series of interconnected initiatives that make up our entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Programmes such as SPARK, The ICEHOUSE and the New Zealand Leadership Institute are all designed to support and nurture people, ideas and companies that have the potential to create opportunity and prosperity for all New Zealanders.

Investment Committee

Led by Greg Cross, our Challenge investment committee includes a select group of experienced members from key New Zealand business and investment communities. The Committee is responsible for interviewing, short‐listing and selecting the applicants who, they believe, show the most promise.

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    Greg Cross – Chair


    Believing wholeheartedly in your idea and being determined to make it work is the first step to success.

    • Greg Cross

      Greg is a serial Tech entrepreneur who has just returned to his day job at Cross Ventures after 3 years as CEO of his wireless power company PowerbyProxi which continues to sign up some of the most important technology companies in the world as customers. 

      He’s also Chairman of NZX listed SLI Systems and on the board of Fronde and the Sir John Logan Campbell

      Executive in Residence at the University of Auckland Business School.

      Building international teams which deliver against their vision is in his DNA and growth is at the top of his agenda.

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    Craig Donaldson – Deputy Chair


    Leveraging our global relationships is critical to helping NZ grow, there never needs to be a “Cold Call”.

    • Craig Donaldson

      Craig Donaldson has more than 25 years of Financial Market experience in New Zealand and the United States, encompassing business building, restructuring and running a number of market-leading financial businesses.

      Craig has relationships with many of the world’s largest global financial institutions ranging from hedge funds, money managers, banks and central banks.

      He has held Managing Director positions with Deutsche Bank, Merrill Lynch and most recently with Royal Bank of Scotland. Craig currently sits on the Global Board of KEA New Zealand and is an Executive in Residence at the University of Business School.

      Craig holds a BCom in Accounting from The Auckland University Business School and Management Diploma’s from London Business School.

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    Richard Hughes


    Involvement in the challenge is our way of helping smaller companies grow.

    • Richard Hughes

      Richard has spent much of his career in the private equity and venture capital industry. Initially with 3i, in the UK, then subsequently, with CDC, in the emerging markets, including the management of funds in Papua New Guinea, sub-Saharan Africa and mainland China. More recently he has worked at private equity funds both in New Zealand and Australia.

      He has held directorships in a diverse range of companies and now advises a number of businesses involved in the private equity industry. He is a director of the NZ Venture Investment Fund.

      Richard is a Chartered Accountant and read Engineering at Trinity College, Cambridge.

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    Cecilia Tarrant


    There is no better way to strengthen an idea than by subjecting it to the scrutiny of your peers.

    • Cecilia Tarrant

      Cecilia is a Director of Fletcher Building Limited, a member of the Board of the Government Superannuation Fund Authority and a trustee of The University of Auckland Foundation, where she is the chair of the Investment Committee of the Foundation.

      She is also an Executive in Residence at the University of Auckland Business School where she sponsors a Women’s Mentoring Programme that is now in its second year.

      Cecilia has over 20 years international experience in capital markets banking and finance, having worked first as a lawyer and then as an investment banker in San Francisco, New York and London.

      In her last position prior to returning to New Zealand, Cecilia was a Managing Director at Morgan Stanley in London where she was head of European Agency CMBS and Consumer Asset Securitisation.

      Cecilia has a B.A. and an LLB (Hons.) from the University of Auckland and a Master of Laws from the University of California at Berkeley.

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    Geoff Whitcher


    Entrepreneurship and innovation are the keys to NZ becoming the dynamic and prosperous nation, able to provide the high-quality of education, healthcare, social services, and infra-structure, that delivers the quality of life that all New Zealanders deserve.

    • Geoff Whitcher

      Geoff Whitcher was the founding director of the Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning at The University of Auckland Business School in 2010 becoming a co-director in 2011 when the Centre’s role was expanded to include academic activities.

      Geoff came to the University in 2000 after a lengthy career in industry having worked initially for Unilever in New Zealand and the UK and subsequently in senior roles for Fletcher Challenge in New Zealand and overseas.

      Since joining the University, Geoff has been heavily involved in the establishment of a number of key components of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Auckland, particularly those at the University, including extracurricular activities such as SPARK, Chiasma, The Entrepreneurs Challenge and The 

      ICEHOUSE, as well as the development of the new Business School – all of which foster a spirit of innovation, a culture of entrepreneurship and also encourage the start-up of new ventures.

      Additionally, he has been involved in the creation of a number of new courses such as the Master of Commercialisation and Entrepreneurship and the Master of Bioscience Enterprise that promote and encourage innovation, commercialisation and business growth.

      He is on the board of the EMA and also plays a significant role in extending and facilitating industry’s interaction with the Business School in a wide range of activities such as projects, internships, mentoring, judging and speaking engagements.

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    Greg Whittred


    The Challenge is an exciting initiative that complements the UABS spirit of enterprise and innovations.

    • Greg Whittred

      Prior to taking up the position as Dean at the University of Auckland Business School Greg was Foundation President of UNSW (Asia), a comprehensive private University established under the Singaporean Government’s Global Schoolhouse strategy.

      From February 2002 through October 2005 he was Dean of the Faculty of Commerce and Economics at the University of New South Wales.

      Between 1996–2001 he held senior management positions at the Australian Graduate School of Management including Director ‐ Executive MBA program, Associate Dean– MBA Programs and between July 1999 and December 2000, Acting Dean.

      Greg is a Fellow of the Australian Society of Certified Practicing Accountants and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia, a member of the Securities Institute of Australia and the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

      Between February 2006 and February 2009 he was a member of the Singaporean Government’s Economic Development Board. He is presently a Director of The ICEHOUSE, the New Zealand Leadership Institute and is a member of the Supporters’ Council of the Young Enterprise Trust.

      His areas of expertise include financial accounting and financial statement analysis, value‐based management, and corporate governance. He has extensive consulting experience in both the public and private sectors.

Our Partners

We are delighted to have engendered the generous support of a number of key partners to help realise Charles Bidwill's extraordinary gift to New Zealand. Through their generosity in working with the UABS Entrepreneurs' Challenge, we are helping promising New Zealand businesses reach their potential.

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    The Icehouse is a business growth centre that includes business growth programmes for SMEs, a business incubator for start‐ups and New Zealand’s largest group of Angel Investors.

    • The ICEHOUSE

      The ICEHOUSE is a business growth centre that includes: business growth programmes for SMEs; a business incubator for start‐ups; and New Zealand’s largest group of Angel Investors.

      It is a collaborative partnership between The University of Auckland Business School as founder and The Boston Consulting Group, Telecom and Gen‐i, BNZ, Ernst & Young, HP, Microsoft and Minter Ellison Rudd Watts Lawyers. It was established in 2001 in recognition of the importance of SMEs to the New Zealand economy. The ICEHOUSE won the 2009 Vero Excellence in Business Support‐ Education Provider Award.

      The ICEHOUSE’s purpose is to take responsibility for delivering 500 of the 3,000 firms needed to get New Zealand into the top half of the OECD by 2013. It works with a range of SMEs, from start‐ups to established multi‐million dollar enterprises.

      Over 2,000 entrepreneurs and business owners have already experienced The ICEHOUSE growth difference – new expertise and skills, valuable global network connections and investment pathways.

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    Saatchi & Saatchi Design Worldwide


    Saatchi & Saatchi Design Worldwide, UABS’ design partner and passionate advocate of The Entrepreneurs’ Challenge, believes everything is more powerful with an idea at its core.

    • Saatchi & Saatchi Design Worldwide

      Saatchi & Saatchi Design Worldwide is an idea led design business that believes everything is more powerful when it has an idea at its core.

      Understandably we love entrepreneurialism, the very essence of commercialising ideas, and of course as kiwis we love New Zealand.

      We believe the key to New Zealand’s future is to elevate our position on the world stage as the most entrepreneurial, free thinking, innovative, tenacious and pragmatic nation on the planet.

      Our support for the University of Business School Auckland Entrepreneurs’ Challenge not only complements our worldwide CEO Kevin Roberts’ role as an Honorary Professor, but lays testament to our belief that it is through the generosity, support and aid of those who have, for those who can, that will ensure our edgy little country at the bottom of the world ends up high on the world’s podium with the reputation it deserves.

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    The New Zealand Herald


    The New Zealand Herald, the best-read newspaper in the country with a readership of 583,000 is a proud supporter of The Entrepreneurs’ Challenge.

    • The New Zealand Herald

      The Business Herald is thrilled to be a part of the University of Auckland Business School Entrepreneurs’ Challenge and provide editorial support for the initiative which will help to encourage and promote entrepreneurship.

      The partnership fits with an ongoing editorial commitment to fostering a strong business environment in New Zealand.

      By partnering with the Business School we hope we can assist in publicising the fund and highlighting some of the up and coming businesses which it will inevitably bring to our attention.

      The New Zealand Herald is the best read newspaper in the country with a readership of 583,000.

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    New Zealand Trade & Enterprise


    NZTE, the Government’s national economic development agency works to improve the environment for enterprise and growth in New Zealand and is proud supporter of the Entrepreneurs’ Challenge.

    • New Zealand Trade & Enterprise

      To maintain and improve our living standards New Zealand needs economic growth – and the wealth that growth delivers.

      As the Government’s national economic development agency, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise’s role is to support economic development by helping to grow the number and size of New Zealand businesses operating internationally.

      NZTE also works to improve the environment for enterprise and growth in New Zealand and is proud to support the Entrepreneurs’ Challenge, a programme that plays a vital part in nurturing the entrepreneurial young people who are important for New Zealand’s future economic prosperity.

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    Simpson Grierson


    Legal specialists, Simpson Grierson, work collaboratively across all areas of legal advice to deliver decisive opinion that helps business ‘do’ business.

    • Simpson Grierson

      For two years running Simpson Grierson has won the International Law Office’s New Zealand Client Choice Award, recognising our open, partnering approach with clients and their businesses.

      Our legal specialists combine leadership, innovation, technical expertise and good business sense to provide expert navigation, helping to create clarity from complexity. We work collaboratively across all areas of legal advice to deliver decisive opinion that helps business ‘do’ business.

      As a past winner of Creative New Zealand’s Award for Bravery and the US College of Law’s Practice Management Innovation Award, we embrace the opportunity to work with the University of Auckland Business School and tomorrow’s future business leaders on the Entrepreneurs’ Challenge.

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    KPMG New Zealand


    KPMG is delighted to be part of the Entrepreneurs Challenge, adding value to our privately owned businesses and helping fuel New Zealand’s prosperity.

    • KPMG New Zealand

      KPMG New Zealand is focused on fuelling New Zealand’s prosperity. We believe by helping New Zealand’s enterprises succeed, the public sector do better and our communities grow, that our country will succeed and prosper.

      Our support for the University of Business School Auckland Entrepreneurs’ Challenge not only complements our passion for entrepreneurialism but is a great example of how we help organisations build, protect, and realise value.

      We are one of New Zealand’s leading professional services firms, specialising in Audit, Tax and Advisory services. We have 825 professionals who work with a wide range of New Zealand enterprises – from privately owned businesses, to publicly listed companies, government organisations and not-for-profit bodies.

      We have offices in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Hamilton, Tauranga and Timaru.

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    AJ Park


    Established in 1891, AJ Park is recognised internationally as New Zealand’s top intellectual property (IP) firm delivering world class IP advice to the best companies throughout New Zealand, Australia and the rest of the world.

    • AJ Park

      AJ Park is recognised internationally as New Zealand’s top intellectual property (IP) firm. Established in 1891, we have a proven track record in leading IP management, delivering world class IP advice to the best companies throughout New Zealand, Australia and the rest of the world.

      Our experts advise on all aspects of IP, with specialist expertise at every stage of the intellectual property development process.

      Invention: developing your idea and identifying the intellectual property rights in your innovation.

      Evaluation: assessing if your intellectual property rights are worth protecting.

      Protection: filing trade mark, patent and design applications.

      Enforcement: stopping others using your intellectual property and taking action if they do. Also defending you if you’re accused of infringing on someone else’s rights.
      Commercialisation: identifying and negotiating commercial contracts to maximise returns for your intellectual property.

      As the clear leaders in IP, AJ Park is proud to be associated with the University of Auckland Business School Entrepreneurs’ Challenge.

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    BNZ Partners


    Proud sponsors of the Entrepreneurs’ Challenge, the BNZ have been working alongside and supporting businesses for more than 150 years.

    • BNZ Partners

      BNZ Partners is proud to be supporting the University of Auckland Business School and the Entrepreneurs’ Challenge.

      BNZ Partners is a fresh approach to business banking. It’s built around a consistent financial relationship with someone that listens and understands, then supports you and the success of your business.

      We’ve been working alongside businesses for more than 150 years. We know about the ups and downs, the constant drive for greater profitability and the need to balance present needs with future planning.

      By supporting and celebrating entrepreneurs we can help make a difference to their business.