NZ TechWeek underway, showcasing agri-tech, virtual reality and tech-enabled government

"We have a very strong economy and we want to keep it that way," says Paul Goldsmith.

Techweek'17 is underway across New Zealand, with more than 100 events held in 27 towns and cities from Whangarei to Hokitika aimed at showcasing innovation, networking and raising awareness.

The aim is to "stimulate an environment where technology provides important productivity and economic benefits for New Zealand," said Graeme Muller, NZTech chief executive. ICT is New Zealand's fastest growing sector, with the top 200 tech firms generating around $6.5 billion in offshore revenue, according to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

"We have a very strong economy and we want to keep it that way," Paul Goldsmith, minister of science and innovation, told BusinessDesk. "As a government, we are keen to keep the momentum going. We have major investments in ultra-fast broadband that we are pushing through and major investment through Callaghan (Innovation) through the growth grants, encouraging R&D in that sector and other sectors."

Goldsmith underscored New Zealand's economy is far more diverse than people realise and TechWeek is an opportunity to explore ways to keep growing the tech sector over the next couple of years.

Events include an "interface challenge," a forum where scientists, academics and researchers from the MacDiarmid Institute and the Dodd Walls Centre tackle problems being faced by New Zealand companies undertaking technology development. Seven New Zealand companies, including Fisher & Paykel Healthcare and Buckley Systems - which manufactures precision electromagnets, ion beam physics hardware, and high vacuum equipment - as well as five start-ups, posed problems and scientists from the MacDiarmid Institute and the Dodd Walls Centre are now working on a proof of concept.

Other events focus on agri-tech, such as herd improvement, software, pasture mapping and management and how they merge into on-farm practices. "Reigniting primary productivity in the rural sector is critical for both farmer profitability and New Zealand's global competitiveness. Digital agriculture, in the form of precision farming, big data, sensor technology and drones, delivers a new potential for productivity gains across rural New Zealand," said NZTech's Muller.

Other sessions will focus on how to start your own company, virtual reality, augmented reality, game development and women in technology, as well as technology-enabled government. Maori innovation will also be showcased. "We are rich in creativity and innovation and Techweek'17 will ensure digital technology opportunities reach our rangatahi Māori, whānau, iwi and hapu," Maori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell.

Techweek is presented by NZTech in association with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

(BusinessDesk receives assistance from Callaghan Innovation to cover the commercialisation of innovation)


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