Wil is NZ’s Fellow in Eisenhower Innovation Program 2014

explore-assurity 10 July 2014

Wil McLellan is all set to make huge strides in bridging the innovation gap between New Zealand and the USA when he visits the US from late September to mid-November

The trip is the result of being selected as one of only 20 new Fellows for this year’s Eisenhower Fellowships Innovation Program out of the 89 final candidates from 49 countries. Previous New Zealand Eisenhower Fellows include David Clark, MP for Dunedin North (2013 Fellow), Barrister Greg King (2012) and Hon Paula Bennett, Minister for Social Development (2011).

About the Eisenhower Fellowship

A private, non-profit, non-partisan organisation, the Eisenhower Fellowship was established in 1953 to honour President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Its Fellows are outstanding leaders from around the world who make important contributions to their societies.

The Innovation Program gives its Fellows the opportunity to explore in-depth a programme, project or policy that’s an innovation in their country, professional field or organisation. It is also a chance to interact with a diverse, interdisciplinary group of innovators to collaborate with and reach across boundaries and work to advance each other’s innovations.

The road to becoming a Fellow

Wil was invited to apply for the Eisenhower Fellowship following discussions with the US Embassy in New Zealand around his project concept of creating an ‘Innovation Bridge’ between the USA and New Zealand.

He then had to submit his application to the New Zealand representatives/committee for the Eisenhower Fellowship who created a shortlist of applicants to interview from NZ. Wil’s application was shortlisted and he attended a panel interview with members from the Fellowship and the US Embassy in Auckland. After another round of questions and submissions about the project, Wil received confirmation that he had been chosen as the candidate for New Zealand for 2014.

However, this didn’t guarantee him a Fellowship. He then did a telephone interview with the Eisenhower Fellowship representative in Philadelphia and was finally told in April that he had been chosen as one of the 20 new Fellows to join the Fellowship this year. “I’m stoked” says Wil.

Wil is now planning his trip to the US when he will meet with other Fellows from around the world, share projects and discuss how to support each other’s work. There will also be a network of meetings across the USA to help get the projects underway.

USA and NZ Innovation Bridge project overview

“Aimed at global entrepreneurs and fast-growing organisations that refuse to see borders, legendary individuals who want to give back and for investors who want to make a difference, the Epic Innovation Bridge is an ‘Innovation Enabler’ bringing together the world’s most creative companies, the most amazing industry leaders and the highest quality financiers to increase access to innovation worldwide” says Wil.

“Hubs and funds for innovation are appearing around the globe, but global innovation results are hard to measure. Harnessing the lessons learned from the Christchurch earthquakes for a more sustainable way to nurture the next generation of leaders and connect innovators, EPIC Innovation has created the Epic Innovation Bridge project.

“The objective of this project is to measurably increase global access to innovation experience, networks, resources and capital – starting with the creation of the Epic Innovation Bridge between the USA and New Zealand. 

“The Epic Innovation Bridge will connect global hubs and other ‘outposts of innovation’ and bring the best NZ opportunities to the US for investment, while providing US organisations access to New Zealand innovation skills, experience and Government initiatives. EPIC’s unique network of partners, hubs, industry heroes and advisors provides the essential building blocks to make this project a reality. We are knitting together existing business models in an elegant way, now that they have reached the level of maturity where this is possible. Once the Innovation Bridge model is proven between the USA and New Zealand, it can be extended to complementary regions around the world.”

Wil’s background

Wil has worked in the technology industry for global companies for over 15 years.

His career in NZ started as Business Development Manager for Fujitsu NZ where he successfully grew their technology business in the South Island. Before moving to New Zealand, Wil was UK Sales Manager South for EDS Global Field Services.

He’s one of the founders of CerebralFix gaming studios, responsible for establishing partnerships with world-class organisations like EA Games, DreamWorks, the BBC, SONY and Disney. By developing this international business Wil also established strong New Zealand Government relationships with the Ministry of Science and Innovation (now Callaghan Innovation) and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.

“Following the devastation of the Christchurch earthquakes, my NZ and global relationships helped us create the technology hub known as the ‘Enterprise Precinct and Innovation Campus’ or  ‘EPIC’ with Co-Founder Colin Andersen. Colin and I worked with partners including Google and Weta to develop the innovation hub from concept to reality” says Wil. “The EPIC Sanctuary building was one of the first developments in the Christchurch red zone. EPIC houses 250 people working in 20 innovation-focused companies in a campus-style building that promotes shared services for business efficiency and inter-company collaboration for new opportunity development.

“I am also a co-founder of Epic Innovations which aims to create a global network of skills, experience and capital to foster international collaboration and innovation”.

Assurity CEO Garth Hamilton says, “We’re delighted that Wil’s been selected as a Fellow. It’s a great achievement, especially since only 20 Fellows are selected each year out of candidates from 49 countries. We very much look forward to seeing his exciting and far-reaching project develop as a result of his trip to the US”.

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