The Digital Technology (High Impact Programme) – with $3 million government funding – was launched last week to help New Zealand’s digital technology companies grow internationally.
The money is allotted over the next three years for the programme that will be run by the NZ Trade and Enterprise, NZTech, the industry associated chaired by Bennett Medary and Candace Kinser as CEO, and Callaghan Innovation.
“How can we create a blueprint for a digital nation? That is our aspiration, to be seen as a tech savvy sustainable and leading the world when it comes to technology,” says David Downs, general manager, products and services at the NZ Trade and Enterprise, during the launch in Auckland.
Downs, a former Microsoft executive, points out New Zealand's tech companies are breaking growth records and supporting the Government’s Business Growth Agenda target to increase exports from 30 per cent to 40 per cent of GDP by 2025.
He says some of the key themes the group will look at include taking the concept of the NZ Launching Pad in Asia or Australia. The Kiwi Landing Pad was established two years ago in San Francisco to help selected high growth New Zealand technology companies grow their business in the United States. It is supported by NZ tech investors and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
How can we create a blueprint for a digital nation?
Downs says another approach is to look at “clusters” or groups of organisations that can work together. He says one such example is the Security Technology Alliance composed of “four strong NZ companies that share similar market interests”.
The alliance members – Gallagher, Tait Communications, Wynyard Group and Endace – deliver a range of security products and services for managing criminal intelligence, cyber security, critical communications and physical security.
“If we group together and attack the market together, we can get better leverage, and if government will work with us we can use its mandate, or imprimatur, to get access to the US market,” says Downs.
A key component to be tackled, however, is the reported skills shortage in the technology sector. He says recent estimates point to up to a shortage of up to 10,000 people in the ICT industry. “We are going to focus on, how can organisations come together to really drive home this capability gap?”