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Wellington’s Te Papa museum opens doors of Mahuki innovation hub to first accelerator intake

Wellington’s Te Papa museum has this week opened the doors of its new innovation hub, Mahuki, to 10 startups looking to improve the way the museum functions and enhance visitor experiences through new technologies.

Chosen after showing how their ideas could help the museum and other cultural service providers around New Zealand take on various challenges they face, the teams will take part in a four month accelerator program, during which they will work with museum staff to tailor their solutions to Te Papa’s work and exhibitions.

Rick Ellis, chief executive of Te Papa, said he was delighted to welcome the first intake of Mahuki teams and looks forward to the hard work which will bring inspired ideas to market.

“I firmly believe that Mahuki projects will transform the way New Zealanders understand our country, and each other. The team’s products will have the potential to reach beyond our shores to share stories with the world,” he said.

Tui Te Hau, general manager of Mahuki, added that the program is a unique opportunity to tap into the creativity of innovators in New Zealand: there are a number of teams relocating from Auckland to Wellington to take part, while one team is made up of four Chinese students.

“Mahuki offers these innovators the chance to work in Te Papa’s unique environment, with access to knowledge, collections and expertise, and a chance to market test with our millions of visitors,” she said.

With Te Papa joining London’s British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York as one of a growing number of global museums to launch an innovation hub, Te Hau said the startups will work to implement their solutions within the museum. Whether put to use in the back of house or on exhibition floors, the credibility lent by having Te Papa as a first customer is priceless.

Of course, funding still helps, and the teams will each receive NZ$20,000 in return for a six percent equity stake.

The 10 teams will be taken on a trip to the US towards the middle of the program, and on a national roadshow closer to the finish – an opportunity for both the teams and the museum to showcase and amplify their work.

With Te Papa already earning 50 percent of its own revenue, the museum’s leaders are looking at ways to grow this even further by making Te Papa, its collections, and products developed within its walls globally relevant within the cultural sector.

The 10 startups chosen for the first Mahuki intake are:

Time Limited – Founded by four Chinese international students, Time Limited is looking to a product that builds a timeline of locations of interest across the world by collecting data from users.

Point Zero – Aims to change the way people and businesses interact and engage through 3D visualisation and interactive hologram development.

IPSL – Wellington businesses Click Suite, Touchtech, and Story Inc are working together to explore the possibilities of a product that will allow curators to mark interactive hotspots on 3D models of physical artefacts or high resolution photographs of artworks. The data would link visitors directly to the rich collection knowledge within cultural institutions, enriching their visitor experience offerings.

Koha Information and Technology Solutions – The Koha team plans to work towards developing interactive, mobile and gestur- enabled virtual experiences to tell the stories and traditions of Māori using Te Papa collection items.

Gamelab – A 15 year old Wellington business, Gamelab wants to combine learning with game development to inspire young people in science and technology.

Craft Mapper – A joint venture of Wellington companies Craft Mapper and Rabid, the team intends to enable communities to determine and safeguard their own cultural heritage needs. Their concept creates opportunities for communities to discover, produce, and supply museums with authentic, high-quality cultural products.

Dot Dot – Dot Dot has designed a solution to address the issues and challenges of using VR hardware and software in a public environment. It plans to develop a custom un-tethered headset and a platform that will enable developers to programme 3D exhibitions for a fraction of the cost of traditional exhibitions.

In­depth – The Indepth team is looking to develop an open-source platform that would enable museums to display additional content about their collections, both on the floor and behind the scenes to visitors in-person or online.

Open Window – Open Window is designing a product that allows galleries, artists and curators to design virtual art galleries, offering an immersive artistic experience to viewers and prospective buyers, as well as better experiences for physical and hearing impaired museum visitors.

Ad Cloud – Ad Cloud’s platform Wantad provides a new way of delivering targeted messages for businesses, NGOs, infrastructural and community organisations. The platform delivers full screen visual content to the users of mobile devices in a form of live wallpaper.

Image: Mahuki teams. Source: Mike O’Neill © Te Papa

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