Red carpet wraps up IT jobs

Rolling out the red carpet to foreign investors is already rolling out IT jobs for Kiwis.

Rolling out the red carpet to foreign investors is already rolling out IT jobs for Kiwis.

Trade New Zealand says more than $5 million of direct international investment has accrued under its special investor programme (SIP) since it was launched 18 months ago. And IT has been prominent among it, with potential for "hundreds" of new jobs. Launched to cash in on the America's Cup and the Millennium celebrations, to date the SIP has hosted 50 potential investors, with a target of 30 more over the next year.

SIP manager Nick Arathimos says among the fruits of the scheme was a link-up between Ericsson New Zealand and GeoVector of San Francisco to use Vodafone GPRS 2.5 and 3G technology for a mobile phone map and tourist information service. The partnership, announced earlier this month, should lead to 40 jobs over two years.

Other deals are underway, but Arathimos says companies are demanding confidentiality. For example, after Malaysian businesspeople visited the country a year ago, they have begun working on IT projects with unnamed Kiwi and Singapore companies. In the next few weeks a second wave of venture capitalists will arrive here from Taiwan to see what New Zealand has to offer. The group, with "powerful linkages" to American firms, will meet Kiwi firms and venture capitalists to talk about co-investment.

"We have been talking to the venture capitalists for 18 months. They were here four weeks ago in New Zealand and will have a follow-up mission in four to five weeks," says Arathimos.

A mission of three Singapore technology firms is due in New Zealand in the next few weeks, along with a second group involving the Singapore Trade Development Board. Arathimos is to visit Singapore in mid-November.

The SIP programme is selective, with Trade New Zealand identifying which New Zealand sectors need foreign investment then targeting potential investors. "We tend to do the approaching. We actively pursue a company because we know of the benefits that could arise. It takes a lot of hard work. We facilitate to a point. We have companies talking to companies. That's becoming very exciting," he says.

Over the next year Arathimos expects more direct investment and strategic alliances to result from the visits already made. "I cannot speculate but, being optimistic, it could result in hundreds of new jobs, if it happens well," he says.

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