Launched in March, the Atom provides a base for fledgling businesses to work from and access advice and support from entrepreneurs who have done it all before.
“The creation of the Atom was a team effort between students, staff, and stakeholders interested in creating a dedicated space for student entrepreneurship in the heart of Wellington,” says Professor Stephen Cummings, director of entrepreneurship at VBS.
Seven businesses are currently based at The Atom, including HerbScience, a start-up specialising in the development of ethical evidence-based nutraceuticals and integrative medicine.
“Plants have been used to treat infections for centuries, but their potential as antimicrobials has been neglected by scientific research,” says Cynthia Hunefield, the founder of HerbScience. “My background in ethnobotany and clinical herbal medicine, combined with a postgraduate degree in clinical research and my current study towards a Master of Innovation and Commercialisation, have provided me with a unique perspective of what might be possible. I look at our traditional medicines for inspiration to develop the medicines of tomorrow.”
The Atom also provides a space for events centred on innovation and entrepreneurship. Earlier this year, a breakfast at the Atom saw alumnae Brooke Roberts and Sonya Williams, co-founders of wealth development platform Sharesies and VBS entrepreneurial ambassadors, speak about the development of Sharesies, which has around 36,000 Kiwi investors who have invested more than $38 million.
“Wellington is the best environment I’ve ever seen for being a student and an entrepreneur,” says Stephen. “We hope that the Atom aids that by becoming a central hub and incubator for New Zealand innovation and entrepreneurial talent.”