Lightning Lab Tourism

What is it?


by highlighting all of New Zealand as a year-round destination.

Lightning Lab Tourism is a three-month business acceleration programme focused on building a sustainable innovation ecosystem for the future of tourism in New Zealand. After the success of last year’s programme, we’re back with another Tourism accelerator, this time running in Wellington. The programme will bring together a cohort of early-stage ventures and project teams from the tourism industry who will aim to solve the productivity, cultural, environmental and social challenges for the sector. The accelerator will support tourism ventures to develop and test their products in New Zealand, before competing on a global scale.

Up to ten ventures will be accepted into the programme, gaining access to NZ’s largest network of tourism and hospitality services experts and startup mentors. Teams will work directly with tourism industry partners and practice market validation and product development methods used by companies like Google, IDEO, and Tesla.

At the end of the three months, each venture will have the opportunity to pitch for investment at Demo Day, in front of some of the top angel investors and early-stage venture funds in the country.


Creating positive social and economic impact through authentic cultural experiences. 

Cultural tourism has a positive social and economic impact. It helps establish and reinforce identity and it helps preserve New Zealand’s cultural and historical heritage. It can also facilitate harmony and understanding among people, leading to greater cultural awareness.

Ventures who are selected for this theme will be working to increase the positive impact tourism has on their people, aiming share their cultural values with visitors in an authentic, meaningful way.

Creating mechanisms that help tourism operators manage their impact on the natural world and our communities. 

New Zealand tourism provides a huge economic boost to regions, as well as creating hundreds of jobs in the industry. Despite this, there are concerns that crowds and tourism operations can leave a heavy footprint on the air, land, water, and communities of New Zealand.

Ventures in this theme will be creating solutions that help us manage these impacts and showcase the resulting stories of positive change.

Informing the tourism industry with better data and insights

Data is essential for tourism operators and policymakers to attract visitors to new places in off-peak times. In the tourism industry, we now have access to larger and broader data sets than ever before. 

Ventures chosen for this theme will generate valuable data from new sources. They will provide solutions that use data to deliver critical insights about visitor movements and preferences to tourism operators, regional tourism organisations and policy makers.

Experimenting with creative new events and attraction ideas for one of the most creative corners of the world.  

Central New Zealand is made up of some of New Zealand’s best scenery, natural attractions and creative workforce. Wellington Airport and Wellington NZ want to work closely with the ventures who are selected for this theme to help create new events or attractions that draw more people to central New Zealand.

Key Dates

4 Nov 2019

Applications Open

Jan-Feb 2020


14 Feb 2020

Applications Close

26 Mar 2020

Teams Announced

14 April 2020

Bootcamp Week

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