Pouring Some Fertiliser on Our Tech Tall Poppies

Jackie Clark
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TechMarketers Blog

NEW ZEALAND HI-TECH AWARDS CELEBRATE ALL THAT IS GREAT IN THE TECHNOLOGY INDUSTRY

The geeks went glamorous last Friday night, as the hi-tech sector gathered to celebrate the industry’s heroes in the 24th annual version of the awards.

800 people enjoyed a stunning array of companies and individuals who are having an impact on the world with their innovations. In many ways such celebration is not a naturally Kiwi approach, but the Hi-Tech Trust have done a great job at creating an event that pours some fertiliser, rather than weed killer, on these technology tall poppies.

While most of these entrepreneurs are driven by a desire to make an impact on the world by realising the potential of their technology, making some serious coin along the way is also great for them, and for our economy.

Tech is certainly the industry to be in when it comes to earning. A recent study put the number of billionaires in the world at 2,754, of which 143 are from the tech sector. The interesting point was that the average wealth of these tech titans was $US 6 billion, as against the average of a modest $3 billion.

We don’t quite have our first tech billionaire yet, but there are plenty of Kiwis having a good go. Perhaps some of those acknowledged at the 2018 Awards will be our first billionaire.

Who won the gongs at the Awards?

  • Young achiever was founder of Staples VR Aliesha Staples (for the second year running).
  • Contribution to the public sector – emergency department software from Healthcare Applications.
  • The Inspiring individual was the founder and CEO of Figure NZ Lillian Grace.
  • Creative Sector solution of the year was exhibitions and visitor attractions software vendor Dexibit.
  • Maori technology venture was Straker Translations, a digital translations service.
  • Claudia Batten won the ‘hall of fame’ award called the Flying Kiwi.
  • Best software of the year was Dexibit again.
  • Hardware winners were local electronics company Enatel Motive Power.
  • Hi-tech Service was an app-based service from engineers Beca.
  • The international company judged to have had the greatest impact over the last year was IBM.
  • Agricultural tech winners was the venerable Gallagher Group.
  • Another Christchurch company, Banqer, won the start-up gong for their financial literacy app for schools.
  • The emerging company of the year was customer feedback software company Ask Nicely.
  • And, the overall winner was payment solutions provider Invenco.

Having been to quite a number of these award events over the years, it certainly delivered on the Hi-Tech Trust’s stated aim of broadening the participation in the awards, and better reflecting Kiwi culture in the ceremony itself.

In contrast to the SPM (stale, pale, male) days of old, the event had a much richer flavour, with women leading the event and winning a number of prizes. Our tangata te whenua was also more accurately reflected, again with the dedicated Maori technology venture award, but also a strong flavour of Te Reo flowing through the various speeches.

Such diversity is not just window dressing, it’s actually a clearer reflection of what the tech sector is like these days. It also helps equip our exporters to better understand and interact with the foreign cultures they encounter.

What are the ingredients of success for all these Award winners? They will be many and varied, from the talent of the people, the availability of skills, access to capital and, to a degree, some good fortune. Growth is also about finding ways to efficiently sell their solutions to mostly offshore markets.

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