Teō Haka
Centre for
growth &

Ara Institute of Canterbury Offering New Business and Innovation Courses

This year for the first time Ara Institute of Canterbury is offering learners the opportunity to enrol in courses designed to develop their own business and innovation ideas.  The two courses – ‘Business Accelerator’ and ‘Innovation Accelerator’ – are both short 12-week courses that can be undertaken on their own or credited towards degree or graduate diplomas. These two new courses are designed and facilitated by Ministry of Awesome who partners with Ara and ChristchurchNZ to deliver Te Ōhaka – Christchurch’s city centre startup hub.

As self-employment options grow and the drive to improve upon technology continues, people studying traditional tertiary subjects or vocational education can benefit greatly from familiarity with the art and science of entrepreneurship. ‘Entrepreneurship training’ has been identified by recent studies as an effective way to encourage the formation of new enterprises and to provide students with increased motivation to start their own businesses.

Naturally, the side-effect of this enhanced motivation is to create greater numbers of start-ups – an outcome that offers significant benefits to the host economy. This suggests that tertiary education providers should prioritise the incorporation of entrepreneurship and innovation training within their curriculum, wherever possible.   

Both of the new Ara courses will be taught by Jacob Varghese, Head of Innovation of Ministry of Awesome, who manages the accelerator and corporate innovation programmes within Te Ōhaka.

The new ‘Business Accelerator’ is designed to give students the skills and insights that will enable them to validate and commercialise their own business ideas, using proven industry frameworks. Designed to be a hands-on course, participants will focus on one of their existing business ideas or gain group input towards identifying one, then undertake customer engagement and validation processes to test the viability of their idea and its commercialisation potential.

The ‘Innovation Accelerator’ is focused upon teaching students how to spot and engage with innovation opportunities within an existing organisation or industry. Students will learn how to analyse organisational processes and identify potentially transformational opportunities, and then go on to develop a business case for developing them. The course also covers the profiles of the various groups in New Zealand that work to support national innovation.


Jacob Varghese says “The Business Accelerator is quite different from the other short courses on offer on Small Business or Entrepreneurship. It’s focused on helping participants to go through the fundamental steps towards launching their business. The course has academic rigour but is very application-oriented. It is based on globally-accepted startup methodologies but also draws heavily from our experience of supporting multiple startups during their product development, launch and capital-raising phases. Innovation Accelerator focuses on intra-preneurship and aims to prepares a professional to help their organisation identify and seize new opportunities.”

Find out more information about the Business Accelerator and Innovation Accelerator course.