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CIO upfront: New Zealand – a technology startup's dream?

CIO upfront: New Zealand – a technology startup's dream?

As liberal adopters of new technology, New Zealand is a great spot to trial new products and bring emerging technologies to market, but there are opportunities to do more, write Liz Blythe of Russell McVeagh and Timothy Wixon of BNZ.

Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Loon and Rocket Lab have all tested new features in NZ before rolling them out to the global market

As New Zealand's third biggest export sector, technology is the fastest growing sector of our economy, contributing $16.2 billion to national GDP annually and employing 98,900 workers across 28,749 firms.

In an economy historically dominated by its service, manufacturing and primary industry sectors, the technology industry presents a strong and exciting opportunity for New Zealand’s future economic growth and presence on the international stage. There have been a number of inspiring New Zealand examples already.

So, what makes New Zealand such an attractive option for technology businesses?

1. Ease of doing business

New Zealand is one of the most deregulated, and least corrupt, economies in the world with a rich history of export and strong trade relationships with Asia, the Pacific, the Americas and the European Union. Setting up a company in New Zealand is relatively quick and inexpensive. Our IP laws are also more startup friendly than those of many other jurisdictions.

2. Location, location, location

Between New Zealand's beautiful natural environment and relatively laid-back lifestyle, you can't get away from the fact that New Zealand is an attractive place to live.

While our location on the map may influence freight costs for exporters of physical goods, digital distribution channels have side-stepped this issue for many technology companies. New Zealand's unique location also makes it perfect for a 24 hour ‘follow the sun’ model, when combined with a Northern Hemisphere office.

The technology sector can also be highly scalable without reliance on limited environmental or human resources for growth, making the industry a good fit within the New Zealand context.

3. Kiwi ingenuity and entrepreneurial gusto

With a rich history of innovation, Kiwis tend to look at problems, and solve them, in a different way. As liberal adopters of new technology, this makes New Zealand a great spot to trial new products and bring emerging technologies to market. Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Loon and Rocket Lab have all tested new features in New Zealand before rolling them out to the global market.

4. A supportive tech community and government

New Zealand's technology community is established and forward-thinking, with many alliances, organisations and forums supporting the quality and success of technology enterprise. There are also a host of government ministries and agencies working to build the profile of the New Zealand technology industry. The New Zealand Government has invested heavily in IT infrastructure over recent years and announced a commitment to a national digital architecture, digital inclusion and strengthening digital rights.

5. Investment opportunities

There is significant offshore liquidity looking for opportunities to invest in the technology sector and New Zealand has been the recipient of a steady flow of both overseas and local investment.

New Zealand technology companies have access to a raft of local angel investors, high-net worth investors, government initiatives, incubators and accelerator programmes, not to mention peer to peer funding platforms, venture capital opportunities and traditional banking with an innovative Kiwi twist.

Looking ahead, all signs point to New Zealand having a very bright future in this space and our thought leaders and industry participants are all working hard to make New Zealand a world-renowned destination for technology businesses, innovators and leading thinkers. All in all, there is a lot to like, but equally plenty of opportunity to do more.

Liz Blythe
Liz Blythe

Liz Blythe is a special counsel at Russell McVeagh, specialising in ICT and corporate advisory; and Timothy Wixon is a partner – commercial at BNZ, who specialises in funding tech and high growth businesses.

Timothy Wixon
Timothy Wixon

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