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Pushpay is NZ hi-tech company of the year

Pushpay is NZ hi-tech company of the year

Greg Cross of Soul Machines is new ‘Flying Kiwi'

Pushpay shows what happens when a metrics-mad company just keeps pushing

Pushpay is the big winner at the 2019 Hi-Tech Awards, claiming the PwC Hi-Tech Company of the Year Award.

Close to 1100 attended the awards dinner in Auckland, held to celebrate the successes of New Zealand hi-tech companies across 13 categories and to recognise the 2019 Flying Kiwi, Greg Cross.

In selecting Pushpay as the PwC Hi-Tech Company of the Year the international judges said, "Pushpay shows what happens when a metrics-mad company just keeps pushing.”

“Last year, Pushpay’s platform was used by more than 7500 churches around the world to process more than $5 billion in contributions. CEO Chris Heaslip has built a strong and enduring ‘people first’ culture that has endured even as the employee base globalized and grew into the hundreds."

The judges liked Pushpay’s combination of metrics and mission, and applauded a Kiwi company where technology meets generosity.

Other big winners were PredictHQ, taking out three awards – The Duncan Cotterill Most Innovative Hi-Tech Software Solution Award, the Kiwibank Most Innovative Hi-Tech Service Award and the Coretex Hi-Tech Emerging Company of the Year Award. In addition, Robotics Plus took out the Callaghan Innovation Maori Company of the Year Award and the NZTE Most Innovative Hi-Tech Agritech Solution Award.

The Hi-Tech Awards judges said the calibre of this year’s entrants was at an all-time high, making the job of selecting winners exceedingly challenging for the more than 70 local and international judges who assessed entrants across the 13 award categories.

We’ve made great strides in the last 12 months to encourage diversity across the board and at the same time grow the awards programme

Jennifer Rutherford, Hi-Tech Trust

Commenting on the 2019 Awards, New Zealand Hi-Tech Trust chair Jennifer Rutherford says it was great to hit so many highs this year with a record number of entries from right around the country and a record number of people attending the Gala Dinner.

“We’ve made great strides in the last 12 months to encourage diversity across the board and at the same time grow the awards programme. We are still on the journey but it’s really pleasing to see progress being made and the awards continuing to attract new entrants and at record levels,” says Rutherford.

This year’s event also recognised the achievements of Greg Cross. 

“Greg has achieved so much in his own career and is truly an inspiring and passionate individual. He is someone who has spent so much of his life on the road, taking leading-edge NZ-founded tech companies like Power By Proxi and now Soul Machines to the world,” says Rutherford. 

“His relentless drive and passion is inspiring to many of our up and coming companies. He is truly a worthy recipient of the prestigious Flying Kiwi award.”

The complete list of 2019 NZ Hi-Tech Award winners are:

2019 Flying Kiwi and inductee into the Tait Communications Hi-Tech Hall of Fame

Greg Cross

Xero Hi-Tech Young Achiever Award

Winner: John Roy from Coretex

Visa Best Hi-Tech Solution for the Public Good Award

Winner: The Cacophony Project

IBM Most Inspiring Individual Award

Winner: Peter Beck

ATEED Hi-Tech Creative Technology Solution Award

Winner: Spalk

Callaghan Innovation Hi-Tech Maori Company of the Year Award

Winner: Robotics Plus

Duncan Cotterill Most Innovative Hi-Tech Software Solution Award

Winner: PredictHQ

Endace Most Innovative Hi-Tech Hardware Product Award

Winner: Taska Prosthetics

Kiwibank Most Innovative Hi-Tech Services Award

Winner: PredictHQ

NZTE Most Innovative Hi-Tech Solution for the Agritech Sector Award

Winner: Robotics Plus

Quick Circuit Best Contribution to the NZ Hi-Tech Sector by an Internationally Headquartered Company

Winner: Talent International

New Zealand Venture Investment Fund Hi-Tech Start-up Company of the Year

Winner: Whip Around

Coretex Hi-Tech Emerging Company of the Year

Winner: PredictHQ

Highly Commended: Fergus Software

PwC NZ Hi-Tech Company of the Year Award

Winner: PushPay

Spotlight on Māori innovators

Four industry-changing companies and the Māori innovators behind them have been recognised at this year’s Hi-Tech awards, with Robotics Plus taking top honours and being named Hi-Tech Kamupene Māori o te Tau and Most Innovative Hi-Tech Agritech Solution.

Agritech startup Robotics Plus has developed automation systems – powered by robotics and sensing technologies – that are helping to solve labour shortages in horticulture and forestry businesses around the world.

The Kiwi company has attracted US$10 million in investment from Yamaha and its technology solutions are being used locally and in major international markets to automate processes including picking, packing and sorting fruit and crops.

The other finalists for this year’s Hi-Tech Kamupene Māori o te Tau award, sponsored by Callaghan Innovation, were:

  • Healthcare Applications for their Emergency Q app which gives real-time information on wait times, fees and distances to local clinics, to help reduce congestion and delays in Emergency Department waiting rooms.

  • Augmented Reality Applications (ARA) for their augmented reality wayfinding technologies designed to connect people to cultural stories about Aotearoa’s land, mountains, rivers and real iwi stories.

  • Takiwā for their technology platform which enables timely collation, analysis and presentation of vital data to help District Health Boards, iwi and educators to make better, more informed decisions.

Robotics Plus owner and board chairman Steve Saunders says the driving motivation behind his award-winning company and its automation technology is ‘helping to feed the world’.

“It’s estimated we will need to feed 10 billion mouths by 2050 and labour is becoming one of the biggest constraints to meeting that challenge, especially in the crop food supply system. Our whole goal is solving those very simple labour pain points using automation, robotics and sensing technologies.”

We want to get more on this waka because if we don’t, innovation will happen to us, not with us

Thinking big and looking to solve global, scalable problems has been integral to Robotics Plus’ success. A philosophy that is well expressed in Saunders’ favourite whakatauki: He rangi tā Matawhāiti, he rangi tā Matawhānui.

"The person with a narrow vision sees a narrow horizon, the person with a wide vision sees a wide horizon."

Award finalist Augmented Reality Applications (ARA) co-founder Amber Taylor says the early Auckland-based projects they completed with their AR wayfinding character Manu – delving into the stories of Puhinui Stream and Totara Park – have the potential to be expanded across the country and overseas.

“There is the opportunity to use Manu as the wayfinder and connection point right across Aotearoa and to use him to encourage people to visit those sites that are often overlooked.”

“We’ve been invited to showcase at Asia’s biggest tech conference, the Rise Conference, in Hong Kong in July this year, which will bring us together with all the people and companies who are redefining tech.”

Taylor says while the focus is on New Zealand at the moment, long-term they want to reach out to other indigenous cultures and other indigenous peoples so they can tell their stories using ARA’s technology.

“Our plan is to nail it here and then take it to the world,” says Taylor.

Callaghan Innovation’s Māori business and relationships manager Vincent Campbell says the cutting-edge products and services being developed by all the finalists in this year’s Hi-Tech Kamupene Māori o te Tau award are indicative of a broader shift toward technology-based solutions in the Māori economy.

“While Māori businesses have traditionally been focused in the primary industries there is a growing understanding of the need to look at what is happening overseas, and to look at technological innovations and advances and anticipate how those are going to disrupt our industries”, says Mr Campbell.”

“We have more and more Māori companies, including those we have worked closely with like Robotics Plus, that are true innovators and that are absolutely leading the way in their sectors. But we want to get more on this waka because if we don’t, innovation will happen to us, not with us.”

Credit: Supplied

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Tags greg crossHi-tech trustJennifer RutherfordPushpaySoul MachinesHi-Tech Awards 2019

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