Startup Dunedin is a charitable (not for profit) trust with a mandate to facilitate and co-ordinate the growth of the startup ecosystem in Dunedin.

Startup Dunedin is the operating name of the Upstart Incubation Trust (Upstart). Upstart previously provided start-up businesses with early stage incubation and commercialisation services. It is an initiative of the Grow Dunedin Partnership and is owned by the DCC, University of Otago, and Otago Polytechnic.


  • A coordinated city wide approach and visible roadmap

  • Management of the startup ecosystem

  • Security of future funding

  • Database to measure number of startups

  • Support network

  • Sponsors and committed knowledge sharing

The board currently comprises eight volunteer members and has representation from Dunedin’s entrepreneurial circle as well as representation from the University of Otago and the Otago Polytechnic. The Chairman, Nigel Bamford, has been appointed by the DCC.

One of Startup Dunedin’s major projects is a co-working space called the Distiller (previously the Startup Space), situated in the Leith Bank building on the University of Otago campus.

The Distiller has a number of desks and offices available for early stage businesses that are unable to fund their own space and who would benefit from a professional work environment. It is an increasingly important community for budding entrepreneurs, offering support and guidance, and helping build confidence, skills and networks. The space is also a feeder for other co-workspaces (also considered startup) in the city. In 2016, two startups based here raised funds for growth and consequently ‘graduated’ to those premises.

Startup Dunedin uses its remaining capital from its days as an incubator to provide grants for entrepreneurial activity and education in the city.

We support all entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial activity in Dunedin, and have interacted with over 700 individuals so far.
— Nigel Bamford, Chairman