Masterclasses in awesome

The Ministry of Awesome (MoA) is Christchurch’s go-to for entrepreneurs and startups. They operate out of Te Ōhaka, the city’s hub for high growth startups.

The MoA team has been working closely with the incubator participants to deliver four of the twelve masterclasses covering design thinking, rapid prototyping, building a minimum viable product and pitch coaching.

We sat down with MoA CEO, Marian Johnson and COO, Pierre Malou to talk about how they’ve been working with the incubator participants, why Christchurch is THE place for the aerospace sector, and what commercialisation support will be provided after the Challenge.


What are you most excited to see come out of the Aerospace Challenge?

New Zealand is the 11th nation on earth with satellite launching capability, we offer very distinctive advantages for testing and prototyping aerospace concepts. We hope that the winning projects will maximise these advantages and drive the future of our aerospace industry for years to come.


The incubator programme has been administered virtually to cater for the nationwide spread of participants, how have you found the programme?

The incubator gives the participants a sense of belonging, a methodology and a goal (demo day).  Most importantly, it is the first structured framework enabling participants to refine their concepts and develop meaningful connections with mentors and experts alike.  These connections will be very valuable further down the line when each entrepreneurs venture concepts morph into startups.

We designed and delivered each of the masterclasses alongside our partners Assurity and Calibre Design so that they would be engaging for the many remote participants scattered across NZ.  Online masterclasses are always challenging but we’ve even heard that local participants are enjoying learning from their couches rather than live in the conference room!

What’s one piece of advice you have for those taking part in the Aerospace Challenge?

Concepts, project development and startups in the aerospace field don’t come cheap.  Participants must absolutely leverage the support from the Challenge partners, such as Airbus. They also need to validate their ideas early in the piece before investing too much money. 


The winner of the Challenge will be given commercialisation support and access to office space here in Christchurch. What sort of help will MOA be providing them?

MoA is the curator for Te Ōhaka - Centre for Growth and Innovation and we are looking forward to surrounding the winners of the Challenge with the support, guidance, resources, and community they will need to develop their project. 


What makes Christchurch a great place to locate an aerospace business?

There are obvious technical reasons: the existing infrastructure, the airport, the clear skies, the ecosystem, our proximity to Antarctica, and the engineering excellence of our local tertiary institutions.

There are also less tangible factors.  The aerospace industry is a small world of experts and Christchurch, Canterbury and indeed the South Island have so much to offer in terms of quality of life to international aerospace specialists.