New Master’s Degree Unique Springboard for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Whitecliffe’s new Master of Creative Enterprise and Innovation is New Zealand’s first-ever non-disciplinary MCEI. Not only is it highly innovative and unlike anything else on offer on either side of the Tasman, but it has the golden stamp of approval from some of the world’s most visionary movers and shakers.

Co-designed with industry, the revolutionary degree will equip aspiring entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs with the tools for success – drawing on the knowledge, expertise and lessons learned by the industry heavyweights who precede them.

This degree has been co-created with industry and is completely unlike anything currently on offer in New Zealand and Australia. Yes, there are other master’s and bachelor’s in entrepreneurship but they’re very much wound in technology and business. This is a hands-on programme that focuses firmly on innovation, teaching students how to take an idea and make it desirable, feasible, and viable.” says Whitecliffe Head of School, Design Innovation Eric Thompson.

Founders, venture capitalists, investors, and R&D department heads from New Zealand and beyond have contributed to the programme content, including the likes of Kale Panoho (2021 Top 30 Founder Fortune 5000), Sachi Taulelei (Head of Design at ANZ), Tess O’Regan-Byrnes (Xero, Head of Education NZ) and New York-based entrepreneur/investor Jonathan Reid. Together they’ve helped shape a cutting-edge degree that will open the entrepreneurial door for students, providing invaluable mentorship and teaching them how to spot new business opportunities, develop a minimum viable product (MVP), and approach investors.

“When I began developing this degree I went out to industry and said, ‘This is what I want to do, can you tell me what you’d like to see in it? From your personal experience, what did you miss out on? What did you wish you’d known?’. I spent nine months talking to people all over the world and they all said the same thing – this is exactly what New Zealand needs.”

Feedback included the importance of being a self-starter, building resilience, learning from failure, being able to pivot quickly, and connecting to the wider ecosystem and community – all of which are woven throughout the programme.

“You need to understand that failure is okay and to move on is really important,” says Heidi Renata - Founder, Chief Energy Officer, and Curious Wahinepreneur at INNOV8HQ. “There’s huge analysis around the psychology of resilience that is a must in being an entrepreneur or a startup. Resilience is very important in a founder, especially when you look at mental health these days. You’ve got to be solid.”

During the 18-month MCEI, students will build this resilience – and a whole lot more - as they navigate a journey of build-test-learn. They’ll enter the programme with an idea for a product or service they want to develop, and at the end of the degree, they’ll pitch their idea to a panel of investors.

“I’m really impressed with this course and excited about what products, businesses, and leaders it could produce,” says Design Director at Proximity, Nick McFarlane. “The focus of the course is on entrepreneurship rather than just the business side of things gives it a USP (unique selling point) from other courses. Students must develop a minimum viable product, proceed to create a mule and gain experience in approaching potential investors, as that’s where the rubber hits the ground. This forces an end goal where the proposition, product or service has to stand up under harsh interrogation.”

The chance to test and potentially launch an idea, with the safety net of Whitecliffe and industry, provides aspiring entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs with a unique opportunity to learn the ropes. And that’s great news not just for the students themselves, but also for New Zealand. According to MBIE (the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment), the New Zealand government wants to stimulate the creation of more high-growth businesses – and that means new founders and startups will be a top priority.

Already we are seeing huge growth in the sector. PwC Startup Investment New Zealand says that in 2021, early-stage investors poured $257.5 m into startups - up 63% from 2020. And as New Zealand’s startup ecosystem continues to thrive and mature, programmes like Whitecliffe’s pioneering Master of Creative Enterprise and Innovation will offer an increasingly vital springboard to future wealth and job creation.

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