Majestic scenery, adventure tourism and agricultural products may be central to New Zealand’s international image, but technology and digital exports are growing fast, prompting industry calls for greater recognition, David Brooks reports for Nikkei Asian Review.
“We’re spending millions promoting tourism, but we need to show we’re a tech nation too,” said Graeme Muller, chief executive of the New Zealand Technology Industry Association, also known as NZTech.
A few New Zealand companies are well-known in the international technology marketplace, including Weta Digital in movie special effects, Xero in small-business accounting software and most recently Rocket Lab, an aerospace company, after a maiden launch into space in May.
The technology sector generated exports valued at 6.3 billion, or 9 per cent of the total value of exports in 2015, according to an NZTech report, ‘From Tech Sector to Digital Nation,’ making the sector the third largest after tourism and dairy products.
New Zealand is also collaborating with the UK, Estonia, Israel and South Korea to develop advanced digital societies through the so-called Digital 5 group, and startup incubators have sprouted in New Zealand cities as the country draws in entrepreneurs.
Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Brian and Matthew Monahan, whose company Inflection sold the Archives.com family history website to Ancestry.com for $100 million in 2012, have established a base near Wellington, and are running a government-supported scheme, the Edmund Hillary Fellowship programme, to attract digital entrepreneurs to New Zealand.
Yoseph Ayele, who heads the programme, worked with Inflection in Silicon Valley but is now New Zealand-based. He said New Zealand is attractive to digital entrepreneurs because its small size makes it easier to make connections and achieve goals, while the fellowship programme will provide access to a network of collaborators and investors.
“You can move fast in a place like New Zealand. It has a stable environment where there is the rule of law and there is a lot of infrastructure. The lifestyle, the well-being, the strong values here make it ideal for the top talent to be basing themselves here,” Ayele said.
Original article by David Brooks, Nikkei Asian Review, October 5, 2017.
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