Otago Polytechnic

A trio of Otago Polytechnic Bachelor of Design (Communication) learners have been busily brainstorming ways to further enhance visitor engagement at Te Papa.

Melanie Wilson, Catherine Chin and Avishkar Ahire received $20,000 in seed funding and a place on the Mahuki accelerator programme at Te Papa, where they have been based for the past six weeks.

The learners’ project initially began with an Otago Museum collaboration as part of their Communication Design course on Interaction Design.

They used user-focused methods to better understand a design problem posed by Otago Museum, and pitched possible solutions to Otago Museum, including developing “low-fi” prototypes.

Going by the collective name, Merge Creative Agency, the trio focused on young people, aged 18-30, who don't normally visit museums.

They identified that young people prefer stories to information, and want to share social experiences together.

They then developed a prototype Augmented Reality game, designed to access objects in the museum through gameplay and collaboration.

They pitched their concept to the team at Mahuki, and received a place on the accelerator programme for 2018 to further explore areas such as storytelling, gaming, animation, virtual reality, augmented reality, mobile design, and 3D modelling.

Mahuki is in its third year and is world-leading in its work in the intersection of tech start-ups and the GLAM sector (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums).

Mahuki’s in-residence programme takes place in Te Papa’s purpose-built innovation space in central Wellington.

During the four-month programme, 10 teams develop solutions to a range of challenges facing cultural institutions, culminating in a showcase event where they get to show their work to investors, customers and key stakeholders.

Each team gets: financial support of $20,000, free co-working office space in Te Papa, access to Te Papa's experts, collections and visitors, and, among other benefits, opportunities to engage with national and international culture and heritage institutions.

In return, Te Papa takes a small shareholding in each company in recognition of the value of the programme.

“We have been lucky enough to work with experts in their field, whether that’s in the GLAM sector community or further across the board,” Melanie says.

“We have met some great entrepreneurs who have been teaching us the different ways to create a sustainable business model.

 “We are really hoping to complete a prototype, which we can pitch at our end of the programme showcase. We are also hoping this will lead to some potential funding to help us keep developing our ideas and, fingers crossed, be passed on to developers.”

Melanie says the team has learnt much from the Mahuki experience.

“Coming from just being students at Otago Polytech to now being co-founders of a start-up business trying to make a viable product has definitely been a bit of a learning curve.

“We have just been matched with mentors from a mixer evening. They will be a great help in the future development of our company as they are as keen as we are to see our idea succeed.”


Published on 2 Oct 2018

Orderdate: 2 Oct 2018
Expiry: 10 Oct 2018