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NZTech CEO: 'We don't have enough big ICT companies'

Sathya Mithra Ashok | Feb. 4, 2014
Candace Kinser, CEO of NZ Technology Industry Association (NZTech), chats with ComputerWorld NZ on the important issues facing the country's ICT sector and how the association is working with both the government and the industry to enable faster, stronger growth in the future.

So we started the Auckland Education Advisory Group, and we do a lot of cool stuff in that area.

Those are kind of the big goals that I have. The other one was actually making this a sustainable organisation. The initial funding to get it going came from the multinationals. We were in debt to them in the early days. We have since paid off those debts. We have become financially viable.

Initially it was just membership fees that sustained us. Right now we are trying to focus more on events. Particularly niche events where we can add value.

One of the last areas that I wanted to cover off when I initially started was a change of name. It had to come at an appropriate time when we had accomplished this ecosystem growth. We also wanted to attract high tech manufacturing, robotics and companies from different industries that weren't ICT per se. We did the name change in August last year. We had an unanimous vote approving the change in name. We had one of our Victoria University architectural student design the logo. That's the history of where we are today.

Over the last 12 months we really took advantage of the focus around the Americas Cup and the fact that NZTE had committed to leverage various industries like marine, ICT into that region to help some of our companies.

Here we are, essentially selling snow to the Eskimos by taking technology companies to Silicon Valley, but at the same time it was a fantastic way to showcase some of the best and brightest in the companies that we have into a region where they would be truly tested. If you get a venture capitalist's attention there, or gain traction with this market, you are well on your way to being a success across the US.

In the mission, we took 37 start-up companies into that market.

When you say you are from NZ or that you are a NZ company, that's a real conversation starter. But very quickly entrepreneurs get that this might get them on the front porch, but they have got to really do their thing to get in the front door and get yourself known in that market. It takes good business practice, it takes a good product, a great team and the ability to move and be agile.

In the last 12 months, we have also focused on getting better relationships with the government. We have been really working closely with the DIA (Department of Internal Affairs) and understanding and being part of the 2017 ICT blueprint, which is great.

We are also working closely with Immigration NZ to bring skills and talent into the country. We are also working on issues around the employee share option plans agenda, along with the finance bill and patents funds.


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