Marian Johnson

Marian Johnson: The Influencers

Last month, I borrowed from our Prime Minister’s recent remarks where she spoke of how important innovation is for NZ’s future as a thriving nation.


Marian Johnson
Chief Awesome Officer Ministry of Awesome

In short, she said that innovation must be cultivated throughout the country. Ministry of Awesome (MoA) is working hard alongside everyone else in our Canterbury startup and innovation community to ensure that our region’s talent and bold thinking are actively nurtured and supported.

Cantabrians are great innovators – our tech sector is the second largest in NZ and our engineering and manufacturing sectors also punch above their weight.

But, regardless of our pedigree, it frequently feels like our South Island startup and innovation ecosystem still lack the confidence, the central government support and the national recognition that there is a growing volume of talent from here (and arriving here!) who have the bold ambition to create great things.

Out at Lincoln University, Blinc Innovation is on fire, facilitating and growing an innovation ecosystem focused on agriculture and food. At UC, every year’s Summer Startup programme shows our city has a rich seam of talented young student entrepreneurs. And, following their excellent example, the Ara/MoA partnership has just begun to do the same with Ara’s 19,000 strong learning community.

Our first Summer Sprint Programme produced its first winner a few weeks ago – Sukhdeep Singh, a mechanical engineer who took top prize with his winning MedTech innovation. It is critical for the future of our region that we continue to retain and nurture these early stage entrepreneurs. They are the seeds of our future city of opportunity and exploration.



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