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.