That's Frequently Asked-And-Answered Questions. Our very own advice column for curious innovators... Is there a fee to enter, do I need to be profitable, and does my trophy make me look big in this?

There’s a few common questions we get asked often – we’ve answered them below in case they can help you to complete your entry. If you still can’t find the answer to your question, please call 0800 2 INNOVATE (0800 2 46668) or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


What if my project or idea is still in the research and development stage? Can I still enter?

Yes, you can – and we urge you to! In each of the 12 industry categories there are three streams that will suit you. You can enter:

  • Research (for research and early stage business projects that can be pre-revenue and must be pre-break even)
  • Commercial (for commercial entries, which are in market and generating revenue – there is not upper or lower limit for turnover)
  • Social (for the not-for-profit, public organisation, social innovation and social enterprise entries)
Your entry will be evaluated alongside other innovation projects of the same industry.

Does it matter if my innovation hasn't made much money yet?

No, it doesn't. If your entry has only just been developed and launched and has generated little or no revenue, you can still enter the EMERGING or, in some cases, SOCIAL option within your industry sector category.

What if I'm struggling to find a category to fit into?

Don't worry – we’ll help you find the right category to enter! Please call 0800 2 INNOVATE (0800 2 46668) or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

I have entered my project in other awards. Can I still enter the New Zealand Innovation Awards?

Yes, we are happy to share you! If you have entered other awards just let us know by telling us as part of your entry.

Can I enter if someone from my organisation is part of the evaluation team?

Yes, you can. We will ensure that your entry is not evaluated by anyone connected to your organisation and that all entries are evaluated and moderated fairly.

Do I have to be nominated?

Nope! Nominations are a nice way to shoulder tap someone who you think it doing great work and may not think to enter themselves. However, if you or your team are keen to enter, there's no need to nominate yourself, or wait to be nominated! Just go ahead and enter.

Can I nominate a person?

Yes! We have a couple of categories specifically for amazing people - Most Inspiring Individual and Young NZ Innovator. You can enter their work, and there is a place on the form to highlight the individual you have in mind!

Entries are open... Can I still nominate a person or business?

Absolutely! It's never too late... well, until entries close anyway. You can continue to make nominations through the NOMINATIONS FORM and we'll be in touch to let them know and encourage them to enter.

Nominations once entries closed will be stored away for NZ Innovation Awards 2018.

What's the criteria to enter?

  • Entry is open to individuals, organisations and businesses.
  • Individuals must be either NZ citizens or permanent residents aged 18 and over at the time of entry (or 16, with guardian permission).
  • Organisations must be registered in and have operations in New Zealand.
See the full terms and conditions here.

I've entered the Awards before. Should I / Can I enter again?

Yes, absolutely! Some of our favourite growth stories come from organisations that enter when early stage and come back to enter again with a whole lot of exciting progress to tell us about. We've seen some entrants be a finalist one year and win their category the next! We provide you with feedback on your entry, so feel free to put this into practice and hone your entry.

How do I know if I'm "innovative"?

You must look within one's self, young grasshopper.

Innovation is a state of mind, a psychographic, a process, and an outcome with an impact. If you think you are solving a problem, seizing an opportunity, disrupting or creating a market, or doing things very, very differently, then chances are you are just the kind of crazy we are looking for.

Get in contact if you'd like to talk it through!


Is there a fee for entering the New Zealand Innovation Awards?

Yes, there is a small fee for entry: NZ$75+GST. This helps us to cover the costs of administration. Why is the fee so low? We don’t want to put anyone off because we believe all innovators and organisations should have the opportunity to enter and be recognised for their achievements in innovation and their contribution to the New Zealand economy.

What dates should I keep in mind for the 2018 Awards?

Nominations are open now. While we have not confirmed 2018 dates, here's a guide to help your planning: Entries openearlyon Tuesday 5th September. And the big event is in mid-October!

Got any tips for writing my entry?

  • Make sure your entry is complete, clear and in before the deadline of 5pm Friday 4th August (extended from 28th July).
  • Tell us a story! Share your customer story and your core purpose. Video can be really helpful for this.
  • Categories matter. Get smart about which industry categories you choose to enter. We can help you narrow this down.
  • What's your market? Provide a clear picture of your markets, and their size and scale. The more market information you can provide, the better.
  • Show us the money! Provide a short summary of financial data, or forecasting with supporting data.
  • Share your vision. Social innovation entries are about impact and vision - tell us how your innovation is having a positive impact.

Please note: the online form is made up of plain-text boxes. You are not able to include images, links or bullet points in your written answers. Save these goodies for the PDF, website link or video link you can attach.

Can I include a video in my entry?

Yes, please do! It doesn’t have to be anything too complicated or expensive, but a 2-minute video is a great way to get some cut-through. Show your personality, give us an overview of your innovation, maybe even show it in action and get a customer involved! Simply attach it to your entry on submission. 

Our friends at 90seconds have put a package together for you should you want to create a video as part of your entry. This is by no mean compulsory but it could be a great tool for you to have on file. For $1500 plus GST they’ll work with you on creating a 60second live action video (no animation). This would normally cost $2300 so a savings of $800. If you want to have a chat to them about this, please contact Dave Coles on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Happy filming, team!

How do I upload a video with my entry?

We ask that you share your video as an online link. Use a website like Youtube, Vidme, Vimeo or similar to upload your video, and then copy & paste the link into the field within the entry form.

YouTube - Head to www.youtube.com/upload and create an account or login. Upload a video, and make sure it is either public or unlisted... if it's private, we won't be able to view it!

VidMe, Vimeo and others work in a similar way.

Once your video is uploaded, take the URL link and include this under "Video" in the entry form.

Can I demo my product or service for you?

Given the number of entries we receive, we aren't able to coordinate demonstrations to our evaluators. So just pack all that goodness into your entry - you could use the video option in your entry and film a short demo. If you're not sure how to explain how your innovation works without a show-and-tell, give us a call and we can help you come up with a solution - 0800 2 46668.

Can the whole team be entered as a single entry?

Yes. When you enter, you'll be telling us all about your innovative work but there is a question that asks about individuals that have made a significant or inspiring contribution to your project or to innovation in general. This is the moment for that individual or team to shine! You will need to provide the name of one person in the team to be the main contact who will represent your entry.

Is there a prize?

There’s a whole swag of prizes, but we reckon that the acknowledgement that comes from being a finalist or winner in the prestigious New Zealand Innovation Awards is the best accolade of all.

Who can help me with my entry?

We can! If you would like help clarifying any aspect of your entry, please call 0800 2 INNOVATE (0800 2 46668) or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

I really want to enter Export Innovator of the Year or Excellence in Social Innovation or Most Inspiring Individual – but where do I do it?

Good question! You can’t enter the business discipline categories – we’ll do this for you based on your entry answers. See our next Q&A for more information.

When should I begin my entry?

Entries tend to open at the beginning of June each year. We only make minor tweaks to the categories, entry form and criteria each year, so you can sneak a peek at all of this information over on our How to Enter page in the meantime... just don't get your heart set on that exact format/wording in case we make some changes before we launch in 2018!

How long does the entry process take?

We're guessing you know your innovation & organisation well. Like REALLY well. All we're looking for is you to share that knowledge and experience in the entry form. This could be from information you already have on hand or writing up something specific. Aside from the who are you / how can we contact you, the main bulk of the entry form (and the only bit that is evaluated!) is 6 - 8 questions long, and no more than 250 words per question.

For some entrants, they can do this in around an hour. Others like to spend more time, and get input from other members of their team.

The best shortcut we can offer? Call us. We can help you nail the categories you should enter and take you through the entry form over the phone. 

Does my trophy make me look big in this?

No way! You look great. The shine really sets off your glowing skin!


Who sees my information?

Valid question! You pour your heart and soul, and sometimes some commercially sensitive information, into your entry. We guard it with our lives.

The Awards convenor has access to all entries, and they only use this information to check your entry came through OK, let you know if any additional information is needed, and allocate your entry for evaluation.

We allocate your entry to three separate evaluators, who will be invited to review and score via a secure online system. All evaluators are carefully selected, sign a non-disclosure agreement, and participate in the Awards out of the goodness of their innovation-loving hearts. 

If you score well, your entry will be up for discussion amongst our moderation team (again, all carefully chosen and bound by an NDA). If there is anything in your entry that is extremely sensitive and you would like dibs on who knows what and when, give us a call.

Conflicts of interest are taken into account. If there is a conflict between your entry and an evaluator, they will not be allocated to review or score your submission.

What are the evaluators looking for?

Firstly, check out the category descriptions. These are seriously your best friend in terms of writing an entry the evaluators will love.

Ultimately, we're looking for uniqueness, impact, scalability, and innovation at every level. Tell us a story about the problem you're solving, why your solution is unique, who it is impacting AND in what metrics, how well you know your market and its size, and what disruption is next for you.

If in doubt, go back to the question at hand and make sure you are answering it as best you can. Or call us, you can do that too.

How are entries evaluated?

We allocate each entry to three separate evaluators, all holding expertise in your industry category with an innovation bent, and they are bound by non-disclosure agreements. Each evaluator independently scores your entry through our online system. We aggregate all scores, and the best performing entries are up for discussion (or argument, depending on how heated things get) at our moderation session. This is for us to check that each evaluator understood your entry, and that they have scored your fairly, and can defend that score.

The moderation session produces the list of finalists. We perform due diligence on those finalists before we announce them online approximately 6 weeks ahead of the Awards Event.

When will I know how the evaluation has gone?

We publish a list of finalists online approximately 6 weeks ahead of the Awards Event. We don't contact finalists to tell them personally (either before or after the list is published) so make sure you take a look!

If I am a finalist, will the organisers pay for my flights to Auckland and my accommodation?

Unfortunately not. It is up to you to organise and pay for your own travel and accommodation. But we will do a blinking good job of organising a very fun awards night for you to kick your heels up at! 

Can I get feedback on my entry to help me next year?

Yes, of course! We provide feedback on entries in November, and we're happy to chat this through.


The Awards Event for 2018 is still under wraps! Check back in early 2018 for more information so you can save the date.

© NZ Innovation Council 2017