Creative HQ and New Zealand’s tourism leaders to supercharge innovation within the sector with Lightning Lab Tourism

Solutions for a smarter, more sustainable tourism industry are the goal of the Lightning Lab Tourism accelerator


[Wellington, New Zealand, 14 December 2018]

New Zealand’s top startup accelerator has partnered with the South Island’s tourism gateway, the tourism industry peak body, and a pioneering blockchain ecosystem provider to seek solutions to the systemic problems handicapping the tourism industry with Lightning Lab Tourism, due to kick off in Christchurch in 2019.

Lightning Lab Tourism, run by Creative HQ, will open for applications in January,  backed by a unique collaboration of pioneering organisations in tourism and tech innovation. The programme will run from May to August 2019.

The Lightning Lab accelerator is a highly structured, high-intensity venture development programme delivered over a period of 3 months. The Lightning Lab Tourism programme will provide a proven innovation framework for both startups and project teams from industry and government to work side-by-side to seek solutions to some of the most pressing challenges facing the tourism industry in New Zealand today.

The programme will be hosted by Christchurch International Airport (CIAL), and supported by Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA), Callaghan Innovation, ChristchurchNZ, and global blockchain experts Centrality.

“It’s great to see the tourism sector taking a proactive and collaborative approach to innovation. We’ve seen phenomenal results from other sectors looking to experiment and transform in order to keep up with the rapidly changing business environment,” says Brett Holland, Head of Innovation Services at Creative HQ. “This is an opportunity for one of New Zealand’s most important sectors to find the breakthrough innovation that is needed to support sustainable growth in the future.”

Christchurch Airports Chief Aeronautical and Commercial Officer, Justin Watson, said that supporting this New Zealand first initiative  was a natural fit for the Airport. “As the gateway to the South Island, we have a symbiotic relationship with the entire tourism industry. Finding innovative ways to answer some of the opportunities and challenges for the industry stands to benefit all of us”.

ChristchurchNZ General Manager of Innovation & Business Growth, Richard Sandford, is delighted Christchurch has been recognised as a tourism centre for New Zealand and selected to host this programme. “We welcome innovators and entrepreneurs both locally and nationally to our city of exploration to take part in this exciting opportunity. We want people that are keen to challenge the status quo and look outside the square to find opportunity in the problems facing the tourism industry.”

Lightning Lab Tourism will closely align with Christchurch Airports’ South Initiative, which represents the regions and key operators across the South Island, and the Tourism Insights Framework developed by TIA, whose members represent around 85% of total tourism industry turnover.

TIA Chief Executive Chris Roberts says “New Zealand’s tourism industry is internationally recognised for its innovative approach, and Lightning Lab Tourism will support the industry’s efforts to continue innovating for success.”

Specific themes for the programme, application requirements and selection criteria will all be posted in January when the applications open.

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