Local businesses urged to ‘Innovate Northland’

With the countdown on to the NorthChamber Northland Business Excellence Awards, local entrepreneurs are being encouraged to enter the innovation category.

The call comes from Sophie Wiltshier, Northland Inc’s Business Innovation Growth Team Leader.

Northland’s Regional Economic Development agency is sponsoring the Innovate Northland category in the awards and Ms Wiltshier says it is exciting to be involved.

The awards are for aspirations of excellence but it’s not necessarily about excellence right now,” says Ms Wiltshier.

“I want to encourage Northland business owners to think about applying for the Innovate Northland award because it is a fantastic opportunity to benchmark your business and get feedback from the judges about how your business is performing.

“You can get insights into all of your strategic goals and these are just the things you get for applying – you might even win the award.

“We are looking forward to seeing all of the innovative ideas coming out of Te Tai Tokerau right now,” says Ms Wiltshier.

It is a view shared by NorthChamber Chief Executive Steve Smith.

“There is so much talent, innovation and business acumen in Northland and it is good to again have the support of Northland Inc throughout the awards process,” he says.

“By being part of the awards process, businesses entering will grow their capability by default and meet like-minded individuals with whom they can share knowledge, experiences and learn from each other.

Winners of the innovation category in 2018 and 2019 respectively, Olive and Ash and Extrutec Ltd, say success in the awards have been a catalyst in business growth.

Olive and Ash owners Debbie and Nigel Stowe say their win in the Innovate Northland category helped them increase the awareness and credibility of their new product, leading the numerous opportunities which resulted in immense business growth.

Extutec founders Theunie and Joe Wiid say it is thanks to judges suggesting they were underestimating their potential sales that led to a change of mind-set.


They took the advice to heart, tested their concept more, did increased market research and landed plenty of media exposure which assisted in marketing their business offering.

Entries for the Innovate Northland category close on 30 July.

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