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People working and networking at Design Factory NZ


Learn innovation while earning your qualification.

You have joined the world of education because you want things to be different. You imagine a new future, with a new career and new opportunities on your horizon. We want to help prepare you for this future by providing you with the innovation skills necessary to lead, create and thrive.

Our undergraduate programmes are designed to teach you leadership and problem-solving skills that you can apply to your area of study and, best of all, earns credits towards your current qualification.

Explore our courses below that will grow your future-focused skills and be workplace ready to lead in your career.

Design Factory NZ Student Learning


DFNZ Launchpad

DFNZ Launchpad has been specifically designed for level 6 students interested in building an innovation foundation. This 16-week course teaches you how to:
  • Begin engaging with complex problems
  • Reframe situations to gain new perspectives on issues
  • Start empathy and qualitative research on problems
  • Make sense of large groups of data
  • Brainstorm and build innovative solutions
  • Test prototypes with stakeholders
  • Link global sustainable challenges with local opportunities

You will join other students from across our Wintec | Te Pūkenga in group work supported by our experienced coaches.

Completing this course will provide you with 15 credits towards your qualification and can replace many level 6 classes from your school or centre.

Design Factory: Industry Project

Get ready to grow your innovation toolbox and learn in-demand skills by solving a real-world problem.

Our Design Factory: Industry Project course is a 16-week learning journey to discover human-centred design, problem-solving and leadership skills through engagement with industry.

You will be placed in a team of students from across Wintec | Te Pūkenga, all studying different subjects, and partnered with a local business or organisation, provided with a problem they are facing.

Over the 16 weeks, you will be coached by DFNZ staff in the design thinking process and will be taught how to apply these lessons to your project. You will network with industry, interview stakeholders, collect and analyse data, learn to generate hundreds of creative ideas, build prototypes, test concepts, deliver findings, and a whole lot more.

Previous projects have included:
  • Working with Habitat for Humanity to redesign their rescue stores
  • Partnering with Z Energy to imagine their zero-carbon future
  • Collaborating with Hamilton City Council to plan the future of cemeteries
  • Engaging with E Tu Tangata to design a nationwide campaign for raising resilience among secondary school students

This course will develop your leadership, teamwork, innovation and networking skills and is a valuable addition to your education, positioning you for success in your future career.

Hear from our students

Hannah talks about her experience at Design Factory NZ alongside a diverse team of cross-disciplinary students as they find solutions for the Hamilton City Council.

Sarajane talks about her experience joining the Design Factory NZ and working alongside her teams client Genesis Energy.
Akhil is a mechanical engineering student and was one of our 2018 Design Factory NZ participants. 
Josh, a third-year IT student, shares why choosing Design Factory NZ was the best part of his Wintec study journey.

IT student Mohammed talks about why he chose Design Factory NZ to enhance his skill set for the workforce.

International IT student Erin talks about what makes Design Factory NZ great and why you should consider joining.

Frequently asked questions

What does DFNZ involve?

Wintec students from across all centres come together at DFNZ. Over 16 weeks, they learn processes for solving complex problems - which can be applied to any domain or practice. 

Students get put into groups, and we teach them how to solve complex problems faced in the workplace. This isn’t theoretical learning, but learning by solving a real-world problem, with a real-world industry partner. Students learn how to lead a group, how to interview others, how to create 100s of ideas, how to build and test an idea quickly, and how to sell solutions stakeholders. You form deep friendships, drink a lot of coffee, and have a lot of fun and hard-work along the way.

It also involves networking with Waikato business and community leaders, developing your emotional intelligence, navigating challenging scenarios, and gaining insights into how innovation works in the real world.

What are the benefits?

The core benefit of this course is students gaining the most in-demand skills the workplace is looking for. Graduates receive a qualification that gets them work-ready, and able to thrive in the workplace. 

Research has shown the in-demand skills employers are looking for. Number one is the ability to solve complex problems. Estimates suggest that in the next few years, one in three jobs will require complex problem solving as a core skill. Complex problem solving is exactly what we teach.

Any list of the most in-demand skills also features creativity, communication, leadership and team skills. We invest significant coaching to help you upskill in your personal leadership and development, and your ability to be a team leader, and a team-player. 

There’s a bunch of other benefits, too. You get 24/7 access to our dedicated work-space, unlimited free coffee, coaching from our awesome staff, opportunities to network with business leaders, and become part of the Design Factory Global Network - a family of 29 Design Factories around the world.

Are there any additional fees?
No, studying at the DFNZ does not occur any additional study cost for you. When you study with us, the Design Factory module replaces 30 credits of your degree programme that you would otherwise be studying. 
Can this fit around my other course times or does studying at the DFNZ put me a semester behind?
Yes, we run different streams of the Design Factory module, with a range of times to make sure this can fit with other courses as needed. There’s no additional time spent studying at all and you will earn 30 credits towards your degree.
What subjects will I be replacing DFNZ with?
This depends on what qualification you are currently studying. It would be best if you talked to your programme coordinator to identify which courses can be replaced by DFNZ. We have had students replace internships and other elective papers, but it all depends on what you’re currently studying.
Do employers look at DFNZ graduates?

Yes, studying with the DFNZ is a great way to get seen by employers. Our alumni have gone on to work at a range of cool businesses - from corporates like Genesis Energy, through to tech start-ups. Two of our alumni have gone on to study problem-solving further in Melbourne and China. 

Also, a big part of DFNZ is working with industry partners. Over the 16 weeks with us, you will have heaps of opportunities to network and get yourself in front of employers. 

How is DFNZ different to an internship?

An internship offers you a good opportunity to get experience in a workplace and learn more about how your skills fit in the real-world.

DFNZ, on the other hand, has a focus on teaching you problem-solving. This means you will be co-leading a project for an industry partner, seeking to bring about change for their organisation. You will learn leadership, problem-solving, communication, team-work, and creativity, which you might not get on an internship.

Additionally, DFNZ offers you world-class coaching from our DFNZ staff and connections to a wide alumni across the Wintec centres.

How much time does it take up in a week?
You spend 4 hours in a taught session, learning the process along with your teammates. You also have 4 hours in a coached session, where your group works together to solve the complex problem. We then expect a further 8 hours study a week to be completed outside of class which involves researching, interviewing, building, creating, and a whole lot more.

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