Tauranga Boys’ College graduate Wade Flanagan is an innovation developer in Nike HQ’s innovation kitchen in Oregon. Next week, Wade is back in town for the Groundswell Festival of Innovation. He is judging the Young Innovator Awards and all the finalists will have an incredible opportunity to design a trainer for Nike during his workshop. UNO. talks to Wade about his visit and some of his favourite innovations.

Why did you want get involved with Groundswell and YiA?

I am proud of where I come from. And this is an oppor­tu­ni­ty for me to give back and to inspire inno­va­tion and entre­pre­neur­ship among stu­dents. I’m excit­ed to get back to Tau­ran­ga and see all the work that is hap­pen­ing in the local indus­try.

What’s your favourite inno­va­tion of all time?

I would have to say elec­tric­i­ty. The advent of elec­tric­i­ty was a true rev­o­lu­tion that would ulti­mate­ly improve the lives of every­one on the plan­et.

What’s the most expen­sive inno­va­tion you have ever splashed out on?

Prob­a­bly the first lap­top I pur­chased when I moved to the US. Lap­tops used to be quite expen­sive but I want­ed the porta­bil­i­ty so it was an inno­va­tion I was will­ing to pay for.

Describe what’s it like to work at Nike HQ in 3 words.

Inspir­ing. Chal­leng­ing. Fun.

What would you advice to Young Inno­va­tor Awards entrants?

Don’t ever lose sight of the cus­tomer. Inno­va­tion can often be secre­tive, lead­ing to end­less con­ver­sa­tions. The soon­er you can test with, and gath­er real feed­back from your user the bet­ter. So often peo­ple notice the issues or prob­lems that you didn’t even think about!

Groundswell Fes­ti­val of Inno­va­tion will shake Tau­ran­ga up with var­i­ous events, work­shops, pre­sen­ta­tions and forums on 7-13th August. All the local tal­ents and inter­na­tion­al speak­ers will be there. And 7 000 peo­ple have already signed up! With over 28 events over 7 days, there is some­thing for every­one. Think marine, health, agri­cul­ture, edu­ca­tion, cre­ative arts, sports and the Maori econ­o­my. Groundswell work­shops cov­er all stages of knowl­edge: from “Dip Your Toes” for begin­ners to a “Deep Dive” for expe­ri­enced inno­va­tors.