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Hawke’s Bay looks to attract successful innovators, investors and entrepreneurs

Jasmine Herlt and Doug Steiner Hawke’s Bay is set to attract successful innovators, investors and entrepreneurs from around the world keen to contribute to local businesses and community initiatives as part of the world-leading Aotearoa INZ immigration programme, the Edmund Hillary Fellowship.

Hastings District Council took the lead role in developing a compelling proposition focused on technology, food and beverage and the environment for this programme. Hastings District Council economic development manager Lee Neville said it was important to have a focus on international innovators, investors and entrepreneurs that could support local businesses keen to “go global” or establish their own business in these sectors.

A key part of the presentation was a 45 minute video with introductions on Technology by David France, Food & Beverage by Nicky Solomon and the Environment by Dominic Salmon of 3R Group. Having watched the video presentation, Canadian technology innovator and entrepreneur Doug Steiner an EHF Fellow and wife Jasmine Herlt, a human rights lawyer, shortlisted Hawke’s Bay for a visit this past October.

Doug, speaking from Toronto, said the couple will return for a closer look at Hawke’s Bay in February before making a final decision later in the year on where to settle. On their first visit they also spent time in the other regions on their shortlist – Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Nelson and Christchurch.

Lee will set up visits with local businesses which could benefit from Doug and Jasmine’s involvement. Other Edmund Hillary Fellows who are preparing to make a significant contributions are also being encouraged to come to Hawke’s Bay. INZ offered a three year Global Impact Visa as part of the EHF programme between 2016 and 2020. Fellows contribute to communities and the economy in New Zealand can earn points to become permanent residents.

COVID19 restricted the entry of many of the Fellows until this year. On their initial 3 month visit to Aotearoa, the couple also spent time in the other regions on their shortlist – Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Nelson and Christchurch. Doug says the couple’s decision criteria included weather, air travel frequency to Auckland and Wellington for connecting flights back to Canada and specialist medical provisions, along with a desire to support indigenous economic and social enterprises. “We are coming to New Zealand with the specific purpose to contribute to the economy and society. We’ve both done considerable work in our home country, and decided it was time for a change. We now need to decide what area can we contribute the most, as well as feel comfortable and connected to the community we intend to serve. “

Doug has varied expertise based on his work in Canada and the US. He has started, run, and sold a number of technology businesses, and has consulted in the use of behavioural economics to change consumer and business stakeholder behaviour. He has also advised firms in finance, government, media and technology in optimisation of business models using technology and researched methods that enhance decision methodologies. Doug already sees opportunities in technology and creating efficiencies within businesses and local government in Hawke’s Bay.

“My last two years in Canada were spent during Covid helping local Government design and implement economic growth and innovation strategies both to attract capital investment and help make local government more efficient. “They have been innovative solutions for civic problems I’d like to try and introduce in places like Hawkes Bay; such as crowd-sourcing solutions Doug Steiner and offering prizes for innovation. These have been very successful are inexpensive and promote civic engagement from citizens.

“I’d like to know what the big problems are in Hastings or Napier that you are dealing with and are complicated to solve. This is what excites me and is the best use of my problem solving skills. And I’m not unique, I am only one of more 528 innovators, investors and entrepreneurs from over 50 countries that are committed to New Zealand as a base camp for global impact within the EHF Fellowship.”

EHF was initially designed in partnership with the Edmund Hillary Institute and the New Zealand Immigration as a test to attract world-changing innovators. The idea was to get Fellows and Kiwis to collectively work on solving pressing issues facing humanity. EHF’s strategy has been to find and build solutions to our toughest challenges. Its intention is that New Zealand inspires global leadership and solutions for future generations, built on principles of Tangata Tiriti and values of Sir Edmund Hillary.

This year (and during the second half of 2023), the EHF has welcomed almost half of the Fellowship into New Zealand after two years of Covid-linked border closure. EHF has a focus on climate action (including sustainable housing, renewable energy and cleantech solutions), regenerative agriculture and food, aerospace and future transportation, consumer software and ICT, investment and venture capital, film/media/storytelling, education and youth leadership, and Māori and Pasifika led initiatives.

“ I’m a tech entrepreneur, but other Fellows have expertise in almost every industry; aerospace, agtech, regenerative farming, artificial intelligence, public transport systems- even micro issues such as solving bike theft and mineral rights on the Moon.

“The EHF Fellowship has the deepest talent and most dedicated members of any community I’ve ever been involved in.” Already some outcomes from the EHF Fellowship activation include the creation of over 120 new registered ventures in NZ, and over 200 high value jobs in areas such as waste to value; renewable energy; clean transportation and climate education.

As of 2021, Fellows have invested over $21 million directly into at least 91 NZ businesses, addressing a high-risk capital gap, as well as helping raise  $239 million in capital for Kiwi businesses. and helping startups to grow globally with at least three new venture funds directed towards Kiwi startups. Alongside these investments, Fellows contributed over 5,000 pro bono hours in providing mentorship and entrepreneurial advice, global market connections/insights and attraction of early stage capital.

The EHF presentation video can be viewed at

More information on EHF and the Fellows Directory can be viewed at