​Spark works with AUT on digital tools to solve ‘real-world commercial problems’

‘We are challenging old models to find solutions that have economic and social value.’

Head of Spark Ventures, Rod Snodgrass (left) and AUT Vice-Chancellor Derek McCormack.
Head of Spark Ventures, Rod Snodgrass (left) and AUT Vice-Chancellor Derek McCormack.

Spark and AUT University's Colab have signed an agreement that will see the two working on projects to “help solve real-world commercial problems”.

Colab is a research and teaching institute of AUT which brings together students, artists, scientists, engineers, gamers and business leaders.

Spark says it has worked with universities before in a range of different ways, but this is the first such programme in which it will be working collaboratively with students to explore and create new digital technologies.

“Spark is always open to working with universities and polytechnics on digital solutions to help unleash New Zealand’s potential,” says Rod Snodgrass, CEO of Spark Ventures.

He says the partnership signals a broader move within the technology space toward academics, creatives, corporates and other sectors working together to foster innovation.

Rod Snodgrass, CEO, Spark Ventures
Rod Snodgrass, CEO, Spark Ventures

Corporates, start-ups and universities need to find more ways to work together and contribute to innovation here in New Zealand and globally

Rod Snodgrass, Spark Ventures

“I’ve always thought that to achieve things like this, corporates, start-ups and universities need to find more ways to work together and contribute to innovation here in New Zealand and globally.”

Read more: When conventional business and IT leadership capabilities meet the new world

“Colab is an exemplar of research and education using new technologies that is opening up new business opportunities and ways of doing things,” says the co-director of AUT’s Colab, associate professor Frances Joseph.

“We are challenging old models to find solutions that have economic and social value.”

AUT Vice-Chancellor Derek McCormack, says of the partnership: “Colab has advanced models of collaborative and integrated research and practice and is operating in ways that are very different from how universities have operated in the past.”

“Spark is also doing things differently from traditional telcos, and has a proven track record in innovation and entrepreneurship. Because of these shared traits we felt it would be an excellent partner for Colab.”

Read more: 10 questions dominating boardroom agendas for 2016

Previous projects at Colab include winter gloves that use conductive fibres so people can use digital devices without having to remove them, a dress that has lights that reflect the wearer’s mood, and a new form of bulletproof material.

This LED t-shirt operated by bluetooth was created iby a Colab student.
This LED t-shirt operated by bluetooth was created iby a Colab student.


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Read more: Carmen Casagranda of Cigna: The CIO as chief digital transformation officer

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